By Shannon Des Roches Rosa, BlogHer
Have you ever wondered why, exactly, vaccines are erroneously associated with autism? I’ll tell you: In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield held a press conference to announce that his research had revealed a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. He published his findings in the respected independent medical journal The Lancet, and spent the next few years promoting his vaccine-autism “concerns” through media outlets like the TV news magazine 60 Minutes.
The result was panic, a vaccination rates nosedive, and the resurrection of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.
In 2004, it was revealed that Wakefield had also been conducting a separate, simultaneous study funded by lawyers seeking compensation for clients who claimed their children suffered from vaccine damage. Ten of Wakefield’s twelve original paper co-authors, horrified by Wakefield’s conflict of interest as well as the public health crisis they’d help cause, issued an official retraction in The Lancet [PDF], stating, “We wish to make it clear that in [Wakefield’s] paper no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient.”
Read more at: http://www.blogher.com/verdict-vaccination-boogeyman
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By Alison Singer
President, Autism Science Foundation
The week, the British General Medical Council (GMC) ruled that Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who first proposed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly” when he published his research and showed a ‘callous disregard’ for the suffering of children.
The GMC decision came after the longest and most expensive hearing in its 148-year history. The hearing focused on a small study of a dozen children by Dr Wakefield and 12 doctors which linked the MMR with autism and bowel problems. It was published in the Lancet, the highly respected medical journal, in 1998. At a press conference following the publication, Wakefield said there were “sufficient anxieties for a case to be made” to give the three vaccines separately. Numerous other studies, including one involving three million children, failed to make the link. But that didn’t prevent MMR vaccination rates from plummeting by 12% in Great Britain after Wakefield’s report. And in 2006 a 13-year-old boy died from measles. More death followed.
Eventually Wakefield’s collaborators withdrew their names from the Lancet paper and the paper itself was eventually retracted. Later it was revealed that Wakefield had received funds from lawyers representing the children enrolled in his study. And now the GMC has spoken in clear and convincing terms. And let’s not forget that the hearing itself was not even about the science; it was about Wakefield’s methods. The science has been in for some time now. No study has shown a link between autism and MMR. To read the studies visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org/autismandvaccines.html
But will this be the end of the controversy. I doubt it.
Once you put an idea in people’s head, even in the presence of clear and convincing science, it is very hard to unscare them. Anti vaccine autism advocates continue to see Wakefield as a hero who remains willing to take on the establishment and fight for their children. In the meantime, Wakefield’s actions have had a lasting negative effect on children’s health in that some people are still afraid of immunizations. In some cases, the younger siblings of children with autism are being denied life saving vaccines. This population of baby siblings, already at higher risk for developing autism, is now also being placed at risk for life threatening, vaccine preventable disease, despite mountains of scientific evidence indicating no link between vaccines and autism. This is the Wakefield legacy.
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UK Daily Mail Online
The doctor at the centre of the MMR controversy ‘failed in his duties as a responsible consultant’, and went against the interests of children in his care, a disciplinary panel ruled today.
Dr Andrew Wakefield also acted dishonestly and was misleading and irresponsible in the way he described research which was later published in The Lancet medical journal, the General Medical Council (GMC) said.
In the late 1990s, Dr Wakefield and two other doctors said they believed they had uncovered a link between the jab and bowel disease and autism.
Today’s ruling will be a setback to campaigners who back Dr Wakefield’s claims but will fuel fears that the controversial doctor has been the victim of a sustained witch-hunt.
Dr Wakefield was absent from today’s hearing but parents who believe their children were damaged by the MMR jab heckled the GMC panel of experts as they delivered their findings.
The hearing – which was the longest and most complex case ever held by the GMC – has sat for 148 days over a two-and-a-half-year period.
Thirty-six witnesses gave evidence at the hearing, which has reportedly cost more than £1 million.
It centred around Dr Wakefield’s study, which sparked a massive drop in the number of children given the triple jab for measles, mumps and rubella.
During the mid 1990s, uptake of the MMR vaccination had stood at 92 per cent, but five years after The Lancet paper, the vaccination level had fallen below 70 per cent in some places. Measles cases in Britain rose from 56 in 1998 to 1,370 in 2008.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1246775/Doctor-centre-MMR-controversy-failed-duties-responsible-consultant-rules-GMC.html#ixzz0dvDPwLQl
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