Posted On: January 13, 2011 by Patrick A. Malone

Discredited study linking MMR vaccine to autism used fraudulent data, report says

The conclusions of a 1998 study that appeared to link the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism were not only false but fraudulent, according to an article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The original study, written by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, reported on a dozen children, eight of whom were said to have developed gastrointestinal trouble and autism after receiving the MMR vaccine. The paper was published by the prestigious medical journal The Lancet and helped fuel an anti-vaccine movement that persuaded a significant number of parents in the U.S and Europe to shun childhood vaccinations, which in turn has led to an increasing number of outbreaks of mumps and measles.

Wakefield’s study was later renounced by 10 of its 13 authors. In February 2010, the Lancet retracted the 1998 article, and 3 months later, Wakefield and another physician author were stripped of their right to practice medicine in Britain. To date, no credible scientific evidence has clearly connected vaccines with autism or other developmental disorders

But vaccine critics remain skeptical, citing anecdotal evidence of a pattern of bad reactions in vaccinated children, including identical symptoms appearing in the same period. They contend that toxins used as additives and preservatives, and the number and timing of immunizations can cause developmental disabilities and other chronic health conditions in children with sensitive immune systems or genetic disorders.

The new examination of Wakefield's research alleges the British doctor and his colleagues falsified facts about the children. The allegations were made after comparing the reported diagnosis in the original paper with hospital records.

Among the more glaring new findings in the article, the first in a series on the Wakefield case by a British investigative reporter, is that hospital records show five of the 12 children studied had previously documented developmental problems, before they were vaccinated, though the original study reported all the children had developed normally until after they were vaccinated. In addition, behavioral problems that the original paper said appeared days after vaccination did not in fact appear for months in some of the children.


You can view the article in the British Medical Journal here.

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