Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and measles vaccine in an English population, 1979-1998

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2003 Nov;57(11):883-7. doi: 10.1136/jech.57.11.883.


Study objective: s: To study the hospitalised incidence of Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) from 1979 to 1998; and to determine whether the introduction of the measles vaccination programme was associated with an increase in the young.

Design: Analysis of linked data on hospital admissions; a cohort analysis of the effect of the measles vaccination programme on the incidence of hospitalised CD and UC; and a comparison of these results with those from previous studies on the association between measles vaccine and CD or UC.

Settings: Southern England.

Subjects: People admitted to hospital with a main diagnosis of CD (1959 people) or UC (2018 people).

Main results: Overall, the incidence of hospitalised CD showed no significant change over the 20 year period: the average change per year was 0.08% (95% confidence interval: -0.7% to 0.9%). The relative risk associated with the measles vaccination programme was not significant (0.91: 0.5 to 1.4). The estimate differed significantly from the relative risk of 3.0 obtained in the original study reporting an association, but agreed with the combined estimate from three subsequent studies (0.95: 0.6 to 1.5). The results for UC were similar.

Conclusions: The incidence of hospitalised CD and UC remained stable over the 20 years, 1979 to 1998. Whatever caused the marked increases in CD and UC in the mid-20th century must itself have stabilised in this region. These results, together with those from other studies, provide strong evidence against measles vaccine causing CD or UC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / epidemiology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / etiology*
  • Crohn Disease / epidemiology
  • Crohn Disease / etiology*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Measles Vaccine / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Risk Factors


  • Measles Vaccine