Study on Autism/Vaccine Link was a Fraud
The 1998 study that first linked the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine to autism was an "elaborate fraud", according to the most recent issue of the British Medical Journal. In both an in-depth investigative report by Brian Deer (the first in a series) and an accompanying editorial by the British Medical Journal's top editorial staff, the BMJ damns the original study as "doctored" and "fraudulent", stating that "Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare."
According to the BMJ, the study authored by Andrew Wakefield and 12 others was "fatally flawed both scientifically and ethically" right from the start, but that it was not retracted for 12 years after publication, planting the first seed in the mind of the public linking vaccines with autism. That single seed has grown into a tangled forest of legitimate concern, outrage, anger and misinformation among confused parents. The issue has leaped out of the hands of medical authorities and into the arms of popular culture. Jenny McCarthy has turned it into a cause célèbres, penning two books on the subject and starting her own autism organization called Generation Rescue.
The pain of raising a child with autism must be tremendous. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the rate of diagnoses of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder falls somewhere between 1 in 150 and 1 in 90, daunting numbers to be sure. My concern is that so much focus has been placed on the vaccine/autism connection — a focus that was started by a fraudulent study — that we may have missed many opportunities along the way to find other links, causes or cures.
When my parents were children, their young lives were shadowed by the ominous threat of polio. For many summers, they were kept shuttered in the house, away from other children and especially public swimming pools for fear of exposure to the debilitating, often deadly disease. When the polio vaccine was introduced the world in 1955, it was considered a miracle and researcher/inventor Jonas Salk was the hero of the day.Continued on the next page