vaccine vaccinationAndrew Wakefield is in deeper, hotter water.

Wakefield’s study fueled the MMR/vaccination/autism debate, and served as trusted evidence for the anti-vaccination movement, led now by Age of Autism, Jenny McCarthy, among others.

An analysis conducted by British journalist Brian Deer, by comparing the reported diagnoses in the paper to actual hospital records, found Wakefield skewed facts about the patients in his study.

In addition, Deer found that despite the claim in Wakefield’s paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR vaccine, five already had documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from actual medical records and the children’s parents reports.

Deer summarizes how Wakefield “fixed the link” between MMR and regressive autism with enterocolitis. To quote:

“The Lancet paper was a case series 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 in fact:

  • Three of nine children reported with regressive autism did not have autism diagnosed at all. Only one child clearly had regressive autism
  • Despite the paper claiming that all 12 children were “previously normal,” five had documented pre-existing developmental concerns
  • Some children were reported to have experienced first behavioural symptoms within days of MMR, but the records documented these as starting some months after vaccination
  • In nine cases, unremarkable colonic histopathology results–noting no or minimal fluctuations in inflammatory cell populations–were changed after a medical school “research review” to “non-specific colitis”
  • The parents of eight children were reported as blaming MMR, but 11 families made this allegation at the hospital. The exclusion of three allegations–all giving times to onset of problems in months–helped to create the appearance of a 14 day temporal link
  • Patients were recruited through anti-MMR campaigners, and the study was commissioned and funded for planned litigation”

Deer’s articles can be found online here:
http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347.full
http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452
http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2011/01/06/brian-deer-piltdown-medicine-the-missing-link-between-mmr-and-autism/

What do you think it will take for the anti-vaxxers to let go of Wakefield’s study, and accept it for the fraudulent report that it is? Why does he still receive support? This baffles me.

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References:
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/01/piltdown_medicine_andrew_wakefields_scie.php
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/01/it_wasnt_just_shoddy_it_was_fr.php
http://scienceblogs.com/deanscorner/2011/01/fraudulent_vaccine-autism_stud.php
http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/01/british_medical_journal_calls.php

  • Anonymous

    I don't think they ever will. Read this woman's blog on it and you can tell they will go to great lengths to hold on to their beloved MMR causes Autism idea.
    http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the article – though it is sad to see it… I agree with you – they won't let it go, and he'll be seen as a martyr. I just wish that time, effort, and money, would be directed to other avenues other than the antivax campaign.

  • Anonymous

    You can't convince me that injecting known neurotoxins into an infants bloodstream (and with no blood-brain barrier developed)–and expect it will NOT cause neurological difficulties!!

  • Ben Fenton

    They want to believe. No amount of evidence will change that, as anonymous above me proves yet again. Autism is caused by vaccines because THEY SAY SO! And that's final!