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Autism Study a Fraud

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Gee, really? What took the British Medical Journal and Lancet so long to discredit, Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children? As punishment, Andrew Wakefield should contact each and every parent who didn’t give their kid a needed vaccine, and apologize.

An influential but now-discredited study that provoked fears around the world that childhood vaccinations caused autism was based largely on falsified data, according to an article and editorial published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal.

The article, by journalist Brian Deer, found that important details of the cases of each of 12 children reported in the original study either misrepresented or altered the actual experiences of the children, the journal said. “In no single case could the medical records be fully reconciled with the descriptions, diagnoses, or histories published in the journal,” the editorial said. It called the study “an elaborate fraud.”

The original article, by British doctor Andrew Wakefield and other researchers, was published in the highly regarded journal The Lancet in 1998. The study concluded that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine—a mainstay of public health disease prevention efforts around the world—was linked to autism and gastrointestinal disorders.

The findings provoked a still-raging debate over vaccine safety and they prompted thousands of parents to forgo shots for their children. Measles outbreaks were subsequently reported in several Western countries. Several epidemiological studies conducted since the Wakefield paper by public health authorities haven’t found any link between the vaccines and autism.

The Lancet withdrew the article in January of last year after concluding that “several elements” of the paper were incorrect. But the journal didn’t describe any of the discrepancies as fraud. A British regulator stripped Dr. Wakefield of his medical license last May, citing “serious professional misconduct” in the way he handled the research.

(click to continue reading Medical Journal Says Autism Study a ‘Fraud’ – WSJ.com.)

And the British Medical Journal article, begins:

In the first part of a special BMJ series, Brian Deer exposes the bogus data behind claims that launched a worldwide scare over the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, and reveals how the appearance of a link with autism was manufactured at a London medical school

When I broke the news to the father of child 11, at first he did not believe me. “Wakefield told us my son was the 13th child they saw,” he said, gazing for the first time at the now infamous research paper which linked a purported new syndrome with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.1 “There’s only 12 in this.”

That paper was published in the Lancet on 28 February 1998. It was retracted on 2 February 2010.2 Authored by Andrew Wakefield, John Walker-Smith, and 11 others from the Royal Free medical school, London, it reported on 12 developmentally challenged children,3 and triggered a decade long public health scare.

“Onset of behavioural symptoms was associated by the parents with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children,” began the paper’s “findings.” Adopting these claims as fact,4 its “results” section added: “In these eight children the average interval from exposure to first behavioural symptoms was 6.3 days (range 1-14).”

 

(click to continue reading How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed — Deer 342 — bmj.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

January 6th, 2011 at 10:27 am

Posted in health

Tagged with ,

2 Responses to 'Autism Study a Fraud'

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  1. Even though this has come out, there will still be parents that believe immunizations cause autism. I don’t see any of them reading this news and then calling their pediatricians to schedule an immunization appt.

    Katie

    7 Jan 11 at 8:35 am

  2. There’s a phrase for that, cognitive dissonance:

    Wikipedia:

    Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.

    These parents (and we know one, don’t we?) would rather ignore all the evidence because it would make them uncomfortable that they made a wrong decision

    Seth Anderson

    7 Jan 11 at 9:14 am

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