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Landmark Autism-Vaccine Study Retracted

A landmark autism study from 1998 that first linked autism to vaccines has been retracted. The Lancet, an esteemed medical journal in the U.K. first published a study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield citing a link. In the past week the Lancet said, “Following the judgment of the U.K. General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practice Panel on Jan. 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al are incorrect … in particular, the claims in the original paper that children were ‘consecutively referred’ and that investigations were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.”

According to a report by ABC News, the GMC (General Medical Council) concluded that Wakefield participated in “dishonesty and misleading conduct” while he conducted the research. Specifically, it found Wakefield responsible for an ethics breach because he wrote that the children involved in the case report were referred to his clinic for stomach problems, when he knew nearly half of the children were actually part of a lawsuit looking into the effects of an MMR vaccine. Some children didn’t have stomach issues at all.

Wakefield also failed to disclose he was paid in conjunction with the lawsuit, or that he had a patent related to a new MMR vaccine in development when he submitted the case report for publication.

This highly charged issue has had its share of outcomes.  Children not vaccinated rose from  0.77 percent in 1997 to 2.1 percent in 2000.  And although the CDC cleared the US of measles in 2000, the lack of vaccinations brought back the disease in 2008.

The medical and scientific communities have not supported a link between autism and vaccinations due to several independent studies since that of Wakefield’s.  Wakefield, who now resides and works in Austin, Texas, is being investigated for ethical breaches and may lose his license.

Given this information, how does this change your views about a link between autism and vaccines?

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