I have written previously about the nonexistent link between vaccinations and autism, and the harm that has been caused by the acceptance of this variety of magical thinking.
Yesterday, the Times of London reported the results of an investigation into the data collection and record keeping of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the researcher responsible for publicizing the MMR/autism connection. And, what do you know, he falsified the data.
Let me say that again: He falsified the data.
In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal.
So, in addition to making a definitive conclusion based on a sample of only 12 children (with no controls), Wakefield, unable to find the effect he believed existed, fudged the data to support his ridiculous conclusion. (The Times also published a second article with a patient-by-patient breakdown of Wakefiled’s research sample.)
And the result of the publication of this falsified report? In England,
Despite involving just a dozen children, the 1998 paper’s impact was extraordinary. After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%. Populations acquire “herd immunity” from measles when more than 95% of people have been vaccinated.
Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease.
And it’s having an effect in America as well. At least one child has died of measles, and there have been outbreaks in Minnesota and California. But that’s not enough:
Wakefield has left Britain to live in Austin, Texas, where he runs a clinic offering colonoscopies to American children. He tours the country, giving lectures and speeches against the vaccine, and attracting a loyal following of young mothers.
Wakefield thrives only because he appeals to emotion instead of reason. The science is unequivocal – there is no autism/vaccination link. The February 15 2009 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases contains an exhaustive review of the studies conducted that disprove the hypothesis. It’s very clearly written, but absolutely firm in its conclusion:
…speculation that an exaggerated or inappropriate immune response to vaccination precipitates autism is at variance with current scientific data that address the pathogenesis of autism.
I urge everyone to read this article. Circulate the link, download the PDF – get the information out there.