The possibility that the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine could cause autism in children has
The link was made by Dr Andrew Wakefield at the Royal Free Hospital in London when he discovered that the vaccine caused changes in the gut which, in turn, could trigger autism.
His findings have been hotly disputed by the medical establishment, but researchers at Washington's Georgetown University Medical Center believe that he may be on the right track.
They point out that food allergies have been recognised as causing problems to the central nervous system, leading to conditions such as migraine, infantile colic, abdominal epilepsy, allergic tension fatigue syndrome, and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders.
The researchers have been studying the gut as "a central focus for injury of other target organs" such as the skin, lungs and gastrointestinal tract, they explain in a letter to The Lancet.
Although they did not feel that Dr Wakefield had proved his case, they believe he has opened up a whole new area of research (Lancet, 1998; 352: 234-5).