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Report of the MMR Expert Group

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Report of the MMR Expert Group

Annex 4 - Glossary of Terms

Generally, the Expert Group has tried to define terms in the body of the Report. However, for ease of reference, some of the terms and abbreviations used are set out below:

Antigen - the term applied to a substance which causes the formation of antibodies: that is, bodies which act in opposition to poisons formed in the body or introduced from outside.

Asperger syndrome - characterised by the same type of abnormalities in reciprocal social interaction and restricted, stereotyped, repetitive patterns of interests and activities that typify autistic disorder; however, it differs primarily in that there is no clinically significant delay in spoken or receptive language or in cognitive development. There is no requirement to have had developmental difficulties before 3 years of age (AS).

Atypical autism - the term used when a disorder differs from classical autism due to a later age of onset (at or after 3 years), atypical or sub-threshold symptoms (typical age of onset, but without a full clinical presentation), or all of these (atypical for both age of onset and clinical presentation). This category is sometimes referred to as "pervasive developmental disorders - not otherwise specified" (PDD-NOS).

Childhood (classical) autism - defined by the presence of abnormal or impaired development that is manifest before the age of 3 years, and the characteristic type of abnormal functioning in all three areas of the triad of impairments. DSM-IV defines this as autistic disorder (AD).

CSM - Committee on Safety of Medicines - one of the independent advisory committees established under the Medicines Act. It advises Health Ministers on the quality, efficacy and safety of medicines in order to ensure that appropriate public health standards are met and maintained.

DSM - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - an internationally accepted framework for diagnosis of developmental disorders, including ASD.

Efficacy - measure of the degree to which the desired effect is achieved.

Encephalitis - inflammation of the brain. It is usually caused by a virus infection, and may occur as a complication of the common infectious diseases, including measles.

Environmental risk factors - all factors which are not genetic.

Epidemiology - the study of the incidence and distribution of diseases, and other factors relating to health.

HCCC - the Health and Community Care Committee of the Scottish Parliament.

Heritable - transmissible from parent to offspring.

ICD-10 - International Classification of Diseases - guidance from the World Health Organization - an internationally accepted framework for diagnosis of developmental disorders, including ASD.

IBD - Inflammatory Bowel Disease - the collective name for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, which are chronic conditions in which the intestines and the large bowel, respectively, become swollen, inflamed and ulcerated.

Incidence - a measure of the development of "new" cases of a condition.

JCVI - the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation - the statutory expert Standing Advisory Committee which advises Health Ministers on matters relating to communicable diseases, preventable, and potentially preventable, through immunisation.

MCA - UK Medicines Control Agency - an Executive Agency of the Department of Health.
Its primary objective is to safeguard public health by ensuring that all medicines on the UK market meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy.

MMR - combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

MRC - UK Medical Research Council.

Otitis media - an infection of the middle ear.

Risk - the possibility of more than one outcome occurring. A more relevant definition, in the context of public health issues, acknowledges the Executive's duty to identify hazards which, by dint of their nature or scale, require some form of intervention in the best interests of the public. The focus is therefore on the possibility of harmful or negative outcomes.

Risk = hazard X exposure,

where a hazard is something with the potential to cause an adverse effect.

Pathogenic - disease producing, or capable of causing disease.

Peer-review - the method by which research is quality assured, given the often highly specialised nature of cutting-edge research. Essentially, before a research paper is published, it is examined by other scientists working within that discipline or subject area, to ensure that the design, methodology, process, interpretation and description of results are sound.

Pharmacovigilance - the process of monitoring medicines as used in everyday practice to identify previously unrecognised or changes in the patterns of their adverse effects, and assessing the risks and taking account of the benefits of medicines in order to determine what action, if any, is necessary to improve their safe use.

PHIS - Public Health Institute of Scotland.

Prevalence - A measure of the number of individuals with a condition at a point in time or over a defined period.

SCIEH - Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health.