National AP News | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

[UPDATE] Journal: Study Linking Vaccine to Autism Was Fraud

By: Associated Press; Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Associated Press; Lanetra Bennett Email

Updated 1-7 6:28pm

Many area parents are trying to wrap their heads around the fact that a longtime controversial study linking childhood vaccinations to autism has now been debunked.

A year ago, Eyewitness News reported how The British Medical Journal, The Lancet, retracted an article from 1998 that linked childhood vaccinations to autism because it said the author was not honest.

Now, a new study is flat out calling that study fraud.

But, some parents say it's still hard to believe which is right -- making them question: to vaccinate, or not to vaccinate?

As local resident Mary Allen puts it, she "didn't know any better" when it came to her first daughter, and she had the child vaccinated.

"She ended up having pretty severe speech delay and difficulty." Said, Allen.

Allen couldn't help but think about a 1998 study that linked childhood vaccinations to autism.

So, with her second daughter -- who's now 15 months old -- Allen decided to go with an adjusted vaccination schedule.

Allen said, "That just made me more comfortable."

A new report in the British Journal of Medicine says that 13-year-old study by Andrew Wakefield linking the two is bogus.

Allen said, "It makes you uneasy as a parent because you're not really sure which one to believe when you hear it both ways from someone who's supposed to be official. it just makes you cautious as a parent."

The new report says five of the 12 children in Wakefield's study had developmental problems before they were vaccinated, and three children who were said to have autism did not.

Tallahassee resident Erin Petscher says she never bought Wakefield's story.

She vaccinated her first daughter almost three years ago; and now seven months pregnant, she says she won't hesitate to do it again.

Petscher said, "I always thought that the data were insufficient and they couldn't be replicated. So, it was just disappointing. I think vaccinations are extremely important for kids; and I think that it's ignorant and irresponsible for people to not get their kids vaccinated."

Doctors Eyewitness News has spoken with say vaccinations are safe and that it is not worth the risk of not vaccinating your child.

They point out that even before Wakefield's study was retracted, there were dozens of studies that did not show a link between autism and vaccinations.

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A new report in the British Journal of Medicine finds the 1998 study was based on altered information about the children involved.

Even though conclusions of the paper by Andrew Wakefield was widely discredited- worldwide, M-M-R immunization rates dropped and never fully recovered.

A report in the British Medical Journal says five of the 12 children in Wakefield's study had developmental problems before they were vaccinated and three children who were said to have autism did not.

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Associated Press

LONDON — The first study to link a childhood vaccine to autism was based on doctored information about the children involved, according to a new report on the widely discredited research.

The conclusions of the 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues were renounced by 10 of its 13 authors and later retracted by the medical journal Lancet, where it was published. Still, the suggestion the MMR shot was connected to autism spooked parents worldwide and immunization rates for measles, mumps and rubella have never fully recovered.

A new examination found, by comparing the reported diagnoses in the paper to hospital records, that Wakefield and colleagues altered facts about patients in their study.

The analysis, by British journalist Brian Deer, found that despite the claim in Wakefield's paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children's parents.

Called 'an elaborate fraud'
Wakefield defended his research in a statement released after the report. "There was absolutely no fraud," Wakefield, who is attending an international conference of doctors and scientists in Jamaica, said in the statement. "In the absence of adequate data on vaccine safety they continue to go after the man...What government and pharma fear in the UK is the exposure...of the fact that the UK government indemnified the manufacturer...They don't understand why I won't just go away. There is just too much at stake."


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