The research linking the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism was a hoax, a complete fraud. The English study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, deceived the world and parents looking for a cause of their autistic child’s unfortunate condition. These revelations were outlined in a series of extensive investigative reports published in the British Medical Journal.
The infamous study was published in the medical journal Lancet in 1998 by lead author Wakefield and 12 others from the Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine in London. Ten of those co-researchers retracted their names from the study in 2004, having been deceived as well.
The paper sparked a decade-long worldwide immunization scare and lent enormous credence to the belief that vaccinations are a major cause of autism. With wide media coverage, it raised such doubt among parents, especially in the United Kingdom, that it caused immunization rates to plunge leading to mumps outbreaks and a measles epidemic in 2008.
The MMR immunization rate in England has never fully recovered, and the study fueled much of the fear regarding immunizations in America as well. The number of U.S. measles cases in 2011, the highest in 15 years, and the Super Bowl-associated measles outbreak in Indianapolis are the results of children left unimmunized.
Wakefield claimed to have discovered a new syndrome, “autistic enterocolitis,” precipitated by the MMR vaccine. The vaccine supposedly created an inflammatory condition in the bowel that allowed encephalopathic proteins to be released in the blood which injured the brain. Astonishing breakthrough, but unfortunately Wakefield applied for research grants citing evidence for this new diagnosis before his study to prove it was actually conducted. Even worse, the study’s data was fabricated.
Wakefield chose the study’s 12 children in a biased and unscientific manner and falsified medical records and facts. Unremarkable bowel histopathology reports were changed to abnormal. The commencement of autistic traits was falsified to produce the appearance of these behaviors within 14 days after vaccination. Actually, five of the children’s problems were pre-existing, yet were classified as being previously normal. Only one child in the study actually had regressive autism. All of the children’s records were altered to create the desired study outcome.
Wakefield lost his British medical license, charged with acting “dishonestly and irresponsibility,” with “callous disregard” to the children and families involved, and “repeatedly violating the most basic principles of research medicine.”
The investigations also uncovered that Wakefield was funded by an attorney planning to use the study in a suit against MMR vaccine manufacturers. And during his research, Wakefield applied for patents for a diagnostic test to identify children with the bogus condition. It was all about fame, dishonesty, money and greed.
Although the study’s methodology was always suspect, it took seven years to expose the fraud. Wakefield’s institution and Lancet falsely reassured the world by reporting that an investigation had been conducted that almost entirely cleared Wakefield. That investigation never took place. What only transpired was a media relations scheme to protect all involved.
Additionally, the English government was slow and incomplete in its investigation, and took 12 years for Lancet to retract Wakefield’s paper. The system failed.
Since the publication of Wakefield’s study, there have been 14 studies looking at hundreds of thousands of children who did and did not receive MMR. The incidence of autism was the same in both groups. Meanwhile, Wakefield persists in his claims, and parents continue questioning the wisdom of vaccinating their children.
Vaccines are not absolutely harmless.
Extremely rare allergic and idiosyncratic reactions do occur. All medications have adverse effects. But although there is no credible scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism, 25 percent of parents continue to believe vaccines cause autism.
The Star Press