Report: Study linking vaccine to autism was a fraud

(AP) - The first study to link a childhood vaccine toautism was based on doctored information about the childreninvolved, according to a new report on

LONDON - (AP) - The first study to link a childhood vaccine toautism was based on doctored information about the childreninvolved, according to a new report on the widely discreditedresearch. The conclusions of the 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield andcolleagues was renounced by 10 of its 13 authors and laterretracted by the medical journal Lancet, where it was published.Still, the suggestion the MMR shot was connected to autism spookedparents worldwide and immunization rates for measles, mumps andrubella have never fully recovered. A new examination found, by comparing the reported diagnoses inthe paper to hospital records, that Wakefield and colleaguesaltered facts about patients in their study. The analysis, by British journalist Brian Deer, found thatdespite the claim in Wakefield's paper that the 12 children studiedwere normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previouslydocumented developmental problems. Deer also found that all thecases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data frommedical records and the children's parents. Wakefield could not be reached for comment despite repeatedcalls and requests to the publisher of his recent book, whichclaims there is a connection between vaccines and autism that hasbeen ignored by the medical establishment. Wakefield now lives inthe U.S. where he enjoys a vocal following including celebritysupporters like Jenny McCarthy. Deer's article was paid for by the Sunday Times of London andBritain's Channel 4 television network. It was published onlineThursday in the medical journal, BMJ. In an accompanying editorial, British Medical Journal editor Fiona Godlee andcolleagues called Wakefield's study "an elaborate fraud." Theysaid Wakefield's work in other journals should be examined to seeif it should be retracted. Last May, Wakefield was stripped of his right to practicemedicine in Britain. Many other published studies have shown noconnection between the MMR vaccination and autism. But measles has surged since Wakefield's paper was published andthere are sporadic outbreaks in Europe and the U.S. In 2008,measles was deemed endemic in England and Wales. British Medical Journal

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