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Journal: Study linking vaccine to autism was fraud

LONDON – The first study to link a childhood vaccine to autism was based on doctored information about the children involved, according to a new report on the widely discredited research.

The conclusions of the 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues was renounced by 10 of its 13 authors and later retracted by the medical journal Lancet, where it was published. Still, the suggestion the MMR shot was connected to autism spooked parents worldwide and immunization rates for measles, mumps and rubella have never fully recovered.

A new examination found, by comparing the reported diagnoses in the paper to hospital records, that Wakefield and colleagues altered facts about patients in their study.

The analysis, by British journalist Brian Deer, found that despite the claim in Wakefield's paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children's parents.

Wakefield could not be reached for comment despite repeated calls and requests to the publisher of his recent book, which claims there is a connection between vaccines and autism that has been ignored by the medical establishment. Wakefield now lives in the U.S. where he enjoys a vocal following including celebrity supporters like Jenny McCarthy.

Deer's article was paid for by the Sunday Times of London and Britain's Channel 4 television network. It was published online Thursday in the medical journal, BMJ.

In an accompanying editorial, BMJ editor Fiona Godlee and colleagues called Wakefield's study "an elaborate fraud." They said Wakefield's work in other journals should be examined to see if it should be retracted.

Last May, Wakefield was stripped of his right to practice medicine in Britain. Many other published studies have shown no connection between the MMR vaccination and autism.

But measles has surged since Wakefield's paper was published and there are sporadic outbreaks in Europe and the U.S. In 2008, measles was deemed endemic in England and Wales.


I never bought into the vaccination and autism argument.  I never linked the two together and never put much merit in it.  This article states that the claims of the link are fraud.  Based on this article, what do you think?

Answer Question

Asked by _Tam_ at 1:39 PM on Jan. 6, 2011 in Parenting Debate

Level 30 (42,083 Credits)
Answers (23)
  • i know vaccines didnt cause my sons autism but there are ladies in the autism group on here who swear up and down they had normal functioning, non autistic children until they got the MMR, and i personally know a girl who said her son never had seizures until he got the MMR shot.

    i dont know though i wasnt there. i think genetics has something to do with it though

    Answer by pookipoo at 1:41 PM on Jan. 6, 2011

  • I thought they disproved the link several years ago.

    Answer by bugfin at 1:43 PM on Jan. 6, 2011

  • I'm not surprised. I never believed it,

    Answer by mommy_of_two388 at 1:44 PM on Jan. 6, 2011

  • I never believed it anyway. Only because there are MANY children who have Autism, and have never been vaccinated. It's in the parents heads now, and most of them will remain that way about it.

    bugfin, I thought I heard something about this a year ago too.

    Answer by Christine0813 at 1:46 PM on Jan. 6, 2011

  • I never thought the MMR caused autism. I DO think however, that some children(in rare cases) have bad, life-long reactions to some vaccines. But normally I would think the benefits outweigh the risks.

    Answer by nsrush83 at 1:47 PM on Jan. 6, 2011

  • I never believed there was a connection. Based on all the accusations of fraud in recent years, this doesn't surprise me at all. I think this has been a major distraction in figuring out what the real causes are.

    Answer by pam19 at 1:48 PM on Jan. 6, 2011

  • I have a son with autism and always knew the study was crap.

    Answer by gemgem at 1:58 PM on Jan. 6, 2011

  • I'm frustrated that so much time and money has been wasted trying to prove that there was a connection instead of looking for other causes/treatments. Too many people still believe that vaccines cause autism, even with this study discredited. Until there is sincere focus on looking for the cause (and subsequent cure or treatment) nothing is going to change.

    Answer by Scuba at 2:00 PM on Jan. 6, 2011

  • It is about time that they revealed what a fraud he is. There have been way too many people avoiding having their children vaccinated and far too many children with serious diseases as a result. It was criminal of him--he needs to be in jail for lying to the parents who were gullible enough to believe him and desperate enough to try to find a reason for autism that had nothing to do with the real cause.

    Answer by kerp1960 at 3:28 PM on Jan. 6, 2011

  • that is fine - but the idea of delaying shots is still valid - kids in the usa get more shots than in europe - why is that ?? because in the usa docs make $$ on shots - when you have socialized healthcare you dont need to waste your money... and kids do get heavy metal poisoning - but only if they have gut issues.... and measles - having the disease is linked to autism it can cause it. so ... while we all knew not to follow the doc. you wont see any changes made in my household regarding shots ---- you still should never give your kid tylenol b4 shots (it lowers immunity) and never get a shot while a kid is sick (same reason) dont forget some kids still have real reactions to shots, and knowing the facts to make it safer... is still a smart thing for all moms to do --- if anything - this should show parents more - do not trust doctors - research yourself and question everything!

    Answer by AmaliaD at 3:45 PM on Jan. 6, 2011

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