The Sunday Times, NPR and other media outlets report that the 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield linking the Mumps Measles and Rubella (MMR) vaccinations to increased incidents of autism worldwide was based on altered and fabricated data. That report led to a sharp decrease in vaccinations by parents concerned about autism – as well as increases in measles infections in England and the United States.
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.
Wakefield could not be reached for comment despite repeated calls and requests to the publisher of his recent book, which claims there is a connection between vaccines and autism that has been ignored by the medical establishment. Wakefield now lives in the U.S. where he enjoys a vocal following including celebrity supporters like Jenny McCarthy.
McCarthy and others have been staunch supporters of Wakefield, who has been stripped of his medical license in Great Britain in 2010. His paper was retracted by the British medical journal The Lancet in February 2010. McCarthy, and Jim Carey, issued this statement last year, saying in part:
The press has been deeply misled in the way The Lancet retraction, and Dr. Wakefield’s mock trial, have been characterized. Led by the pharmaceutical companies and their well-compensated spokespeople, Dr. Wakefield is being vilified through a well-orchestrated smear campaign designed to prevent this important new work from seeing the light of day.
British journalist Brian Deer authored a new article for the Sunday Times on his investigation of Wakefield and his work. The original Wakefield article in the Lancet was later renounced by 10 of its 13 authors.
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