The idea got a foothold in 1998 when Andrew Wakefield had an article published in a British medical journal called The Lancet that suggested a link between vaccinations with the ingredient thimerosal and autism. The article and the author have since been discredited.
Wakefield manipulated the data and misreported the results. It turns out Wakefield was working for a law firm looking to sue the manufacturer of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and so had a financial interest in creating false information on the MMR vaccines that existed in Britain at the time. The law firm in question was, in turn, working for a company that had developed their own MMR vaccine.
In May 2010 the General Medical Council (the group that regulates and licenses doctors in the United Kingdom) found Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct over unethical research and was banned from practicing medicine in England after investigating the research into the article. The Lancet retracted the article saying the statements of the article were “utterly false.”
The scientific community has since investigated the matter since and in October 2010 the medical journal Pediatrics published a study showing no connection between vaccinations and autism. In it they concluded “Prenatal and early-life exposure to ethylmercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and immunoglobulin preparations was not related to increased risk of autism spectrum disorder. (Price, Thompson 4)
You can’t find a credible public health export that doesn’t support vaccinations. The Centers for Disease Control’s immunization safety director Frank Stefano told WebMD: “I don’t think there is much worthwhile to study anymore with regard to thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.”
Vaccinations are not linked to autism and as such misinformation about any such link is irresponsible and dangerous. It leads to lower rates of immunization and as Bill Gates recently told CNN the anti-vaccination campaign “kills children.” For example, in the Soviet Union diphtheria was virtually eliminated but anti-vaccination myths caused the immunization to be suspended and from 1993-1997 resulting in more than 5,000 deaths from the disease. The death rates dropped again after immunization was reestablished.
As a parent of a child with autism I certainly understand the challenges other parents of children with autism face. I also understand the frustration and the need for an explanation for my child’s disability but vaccinations work and they do not cause children to have autism.
Bryan Johnson – Albert Lea Tribune