||A secret government report reveals that eighteen babies and toddlers have died following childhood vaccinations in just four years.
According to documents prepared for the Government's expert advisers on immunisation four deaths have been linked to suspected adverse reactions to the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) triple injection.
The controversial injections has been beset by fears of a link to autism and bowel disease, although since its introduction in 1998, yearly deaths from measles have fallen from 16 to zero, while the jab against meningitis C is thought to save 50 lives a year.
The report, covering the period between 2001 and 2004, details how one baby suffered a cot death following MMR vaccination in 2003. Two more infants were reported to have died after having the MMR jab in 2001, but the cause of death in both cases was unknown.
After the death of a child who developed meningitis and swelling of the brain three weeks after an MMR jab in 2004, a claim for compensation was made by the child's parents. It is not known if this was successful.
Six fatalities followed meningitis C vaccinations between 2001 and 2003. The deaths of seven other babies were linked to combined vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough and reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). They include a baby who died from a heart attack. Another died after a polio injection.
Almost 800 other reports of suspected complications of childhood vaccination - including convulsions and hyptonia, in which the baby becomes floppy like a "rag doll" - were also made, including 160 for MMR.
Details of the document, which emerged after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, come amid fears of "vaccine overload" due to a rise in the number of jabs given to infants.
Dr Richard Halvorsen, a general practitioner who runs a private single jabs clinic at Holborn Medical Centre in London, said: "We know vaccines have potential side effects, but this does not mean that children died as a result of MMR or other jabs. However, it is not insignificant because these are reports from health professionals who suspect an adverse vaccination reaction".
Experts last night said that the true figures for suspected fatalities and serious side effects could be much greater. Dr John Griffin, the former editor of the medical journal Adverse Drug Reactions, said: "For fatalities, it is probably only one in two which gets reported and for other side affects one in 10.