LONDON — Using vaccines outside their licensed indications could put the lives of children in danger and trigger new epidemics of diseases that are virtually eradicated in the UK, immunization experts warned last week.

The potential new crisis surrounds the use — or lack of — the triple measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) introduced in the UK in 1988. In the last three years, uptake of the vaccine has dropped from 93% of all children to 86%, largely because of publicity surrounding research published by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues at the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study Group (IBDSG), London, suggesting a link between the vaccine and serious conditions including inflammatory bowel disease and autism.

In the 1990s the Group, which is based at the Departments of Medicine and Histopathology, Royal Free Hospital in London, suggested firstly that measles disease and, later on, that measles vaccination was linked to inflammatory bowel...

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