The Vaccine Autism Scam
Bogus Data and Money Involved...
Have you hesitated for even just a second to vaccinate your child due to the possible vaccine autism connection?
You're not alone!
In 1998, the respectable medical journal The Lancet published a scary report showing a connection between measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination of toddlers and autism. Parents all over world, myself included, became very uncertain whether to really vaccinate our children or not.
Well, it was all a scam! In May 2010, the doctors who carried out the study were erased from the medical register in UK due to serious professional misconduct and hence are not allowed to work as doctors anymore in UK.
On January 5 2011, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published the whole story explaining how this bogus study was carried out and why. Read all about it here.
The Vaccine Autism Scam Unwinded
What the study claimedBack in 1998, Dr Wakefield published a very worrying study in the Lancet: In 8 out 12 children, onset of behavioral symptoms was associated, by the parents, with MMR vaccination. 8 out of 12 - that is 66%!
It was claimed that all these children were normal before vaccination and that the symptoms had started to occur within a couple of weeks after vaccination. A strong link that caused massive concern in the UK and the rest of the world as the information spread. The inoculation rate for MMR dropped in many countries. In the UK it was 92%; after publication, the rate dropped to below 80%. In Sweden the rate dropped from 97 to 88%.
Due to the reduced vaccination rates, onset of measles of course increased, as did deaths due to the disease.
A big pile of bogus dataAfter the publication of Wakefield's article, several other researchers did similar studies of the potential link, but no one found any connections between MMR and autism. And for good reasons, it turned out. Wakefield had faked almost all the data behind the study. Already early on, parents of one of children complained that the data for their child was incorrect and that his behavioral problems started before his vaccinations, which wasn't revealed in the study. And there was more...
Wakefield's article was a case study of 12 child patients; it reported a proposed "new syndrome" of enterocolitis and regressive autism and associated this with MMR as an "apparent precipitating event". But as compiled by BMJ:
So, as you can see, the data was fake! So, why would anyone do this, scare parents all over the world and put the life of young children at risk?
Money talksAs in most cases of fraud, money was involved. It turned out that Wakefield's study was financed by lawyers interested in bringing lawsuits on behalf of parents who were sure that vaccines caused their children's autism. The law firm involved paid Wakefield approximately $1 million to undertake his study, a conflict of interest that Wakefield did not disclose.
What happened nextThe underlying data of the study, as well as its conclusions were questioned already in the beginning of the millennium. And in 2004, ten of the doctors who co-authored Wakefield's paper issued a statement disassociating themselves from Wakefield and the conclusions reached in his study. Other studies (find references below), were published, all showing no vaccine autism connection
Still, the conclusions in the study continued to haunt parents around the world, who didn't really know whether they did put their children at risk by allowing the MMR vaccine.
In May 2010, the two doctors mainly responsible for the study (Dr Andrew Wakefield, and Professor John Walker-Smith) were judged by the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK to Serious Professional Misconduct and their names were erased from the medical register in UK. This means they are no longer allowed to work as doctors in the UK.
This doesn't seem to stop Wakefield. He calls the GMC a kangaroo court and defends his original study, claiming independent studies in five countries back his findings, and arguing that the U.S. government has secretly settled with the families of children with autism. I have been trying to find these studies, but failed. It is possible that they are referenced in Wakefield's new book; Callous Disregard, in which he defends his theories and findings.
ConclusionsDespite the withdrawal of Wakefield's medical license, and the hard evidence that the data of his study was fake, there are many parents out there, who really believe that their children's behavioral problems were triggered by their MMR vaccine. And maybe future research will prove some of them right. But as of today, there is no research to support that conclusion. Autism symptoms may occur as early as by the age of 2 years, although the average age is between 3 or 4. The first MMR shot is usually given at 12-15 months and the second at 4 to 6 years old. Hence the MMR vaccine and the onset of autism may very well correlate, but that doesn't mean that one causes the other at all.
From what research tells us today, there is a zero% vaccine autism connection. By not vaccinating your child, the only thing you do is to put him or her at risk for three serious diseases. And who wants that?
References on the Vaccine Autism Link
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