The Huffington Post
Glenn D. Braunstein, M.D.
Chairman of the Department of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai
Although I’ve written about vaccines and autism before, new reports in the medical community have prompted me to reiterate my stance on the subject. In early January, the British Medical Journal called the 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield, which proposed a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, gastrointestinal problems and autism, “an elaborate fraud.” According to Fiona Godlee, the journal’s editor-in-chief, “It’s one thing to have a bad study… In this case we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data.”
I don’t know how many different ways the medical community can say this: Childhood vaccinations do not cause autism. As any competent researcher will tell you, the facts speak for themselves. The facts concerning Wakefield’s activities were described in great detail by an investigative reporter, Brian Deer, in two articles published this month in the British Medical Journal (“How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed” published on January 5 and “How the vaccine crisis was meant to make money” published on January 11). All the medical histories of the mere 12 children in Wakefield’s study had been altered or misrepresented. Despite Wakefield’s claim that all the children were normal until they had the MMR shot, five of them had previously been documented to have developmental problems. Timelines were falsified to create the appearance of cause and effect. Children had been subjected to unnecessary procedures like a colonoscopy and lumbar puncture. The findings of the study have never been able to be confirmed or reproduced by other researchers. Ten other authors of the study withdrew their names from it in 2004. Exhaustive investigations into Wakefield’s methods by the British General Medical Council (GMC) proved dozens of charges against him including dishonesty and ethical violations including abuse of developmentally challenged children. The study was also formally retracted last year by the medical journal that originally published it, the Lancet.
The investigation by London Sunday Times reporter Brian Deer revealed payments to Wakefield in excess of £435,000 (approximately $674,000) from lawyers who were preparing lawsuits against drug companies that manufactured the vaccines, creating “experimenter bias” even before the study began. In addition, Deer reported that Dr. Wakefield had filed a patent for a new measles vaccine and proposed to develop a new company that would develop new diagnostic tests and therapeutics including vaccines. In 2010, after the GMC’s most exhaustive fit-to-practice hearing in its history, Wakefield was banned from practicing medicine in Britain.
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