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British court to rule on mothers' MMR appeal
( 2003-07-30 15:34) (Agencies)

Two British mothers, fighting a ruling which forces them to have their daughters given the controversial MMR vaccination, will learn on Wednesday whether their appeal against the decision has been upheld.

Britain's High Court ruled that the two girls should be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) in accordance with the wishes of their fathers, who are not married to the mothers.

The MMR jab has been clouded in controversy since a medical study published in 1998 raised fears about the safety of the triple vaccine and a link to autism or bowel disease.

An independent review of medical research into the vaccine found no evidence of a link and the British government insists it is safe.

In a landmark decision in June, Justice Christopher Sumner agreed with the girls' fathers that it would be in their daughters' best interests for them to be immunized.

The mothers, who oppose the MMR vaccination, took the case to the Court of Appeal and three of the country's top judges will deliver their verdict on Wednesday.

Both girls, aged four and 10, live with their mothers.

Health officials in several countries have warned that refusal to have the combined MMR jab could lead to a resurgence in measles, a highly contagious illness that can cause pneumonia, brain damage, dementia and death.

Officials in Britain believe parents could be putting their children at unnecessary risk from the diseases if the injections are given separately over three years.

The MMR jab is usually given to children when they are 18 months to two years old. It has been used in Britain since 1988 and in the United States for the past 30 years. More than 200 million doses of the MMR vaccine have been given worldwide.

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