‘I heard that there is a direct link between vaccinations and Autism. I don’t want to be directly responsible for damaging my child’s mental health.’ – Concerned Mother
Figure 1. Suggests a possible link between the MMR vaccine and Autism
Many of us would have heard the rumours that the vaccine to combat measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), given to small children from as early on as 12 months of age, can cause the onset of Autism in some children. You might have also heard rumours that big money vaccine funding organisations or big pHARMa have spent millions trying to silence these claims. If this is the case, you may be quite surprised to hear that the truth is, in fact quite the opposite.
Andrew Wakefield, a former gastroenterologist (gut doctor), published a paper in 1998 suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This paper was almost immediately refuted due to the incredibly small sample size (only 12 subjects) and the fact that all of his conclusions were speculative, and none substantiated. It was discredited and retracted by the Lancet (the paper that the article was originally published in). It was too late, however; the damage had already been done, and vaccination levels through Europe were dropping.
Figure 2. Dr. Andrew Wakefield
It turns out that Wakefield was being paid big money by lawyers that were attempting to sue vaccine-producing companies in an attempt to strengthen their case. Andrew Wakefield has since been charged with deliberate fraud. He and the other researchers who published the paper, picked data that suited them, falsified facts, underwent invasive investigations on kids without proper ethical clearance, and misrepresented scientific data.
Figure 3. Newspaper clippings from 2010 showing scientists retracting their previous statements
Many researchers have since looked into the MMR vaccine, in order to find the suggested link, but no credible peer reviewed scientific research has been able to find any evidence that the MMR vaccine is connected to Autism.
Overall, Wakefield’s work on the MMR vaccine is now going down as the single greatest and most serious case of fraud in medical history, one which has created a lasting negative impact on Global health, years after it has been discredited.
- Deer B. Investigation forces Lancet into two retractions [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2017 Feb 20]. [Figure], Investigation forces Lancet into two retractions. Available from: http://briandeer.com/mmr-lancet.htm
- Fitzpatrick, M. MMR and Autism. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. London and New York, 2004 [Cited: 15th February 2017]. Available from: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.uwa.edu.au/lib/uwa/reader.action?docID=200468
- Health Impact News. Dr. Andrew Wakefield [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2017 Feb 20]. [Figure], Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Available from: http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/the-vaccine-autism-cover-up-how-one-doctors-career-was-destroyed-for-telling-the-truth/
- Novella S. The Lancet retracts Andrew Wakefield’s article. Science-Based Medicine, 2010 [Cited: 14th February 2017]. Available from: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/lancet-retracts-wakefield-article/
- Rao TSS, Andrade C. The MMR vaccine and autism: Sensation, refutation, retraction and fraud. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2011 April [Cited: 14th February 2017]; [53(2): 95-96. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136032/
- Skeptical Raptor. Vaccines and Autism [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2017 Feb 20]. [Figure], Vaccines and Autism. Available from: http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/yes-autism-rate-rising-vaccines-caused-vaccines/
- Taylor B, Miller E, Farrington CP, et.al. Autism and measles, mumps and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association. The Lancet, 1999 May [Cited: 15th February 2017]; 9168(353): 2026-2029. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.library.uwa.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0140673699012398?np=y&npKey=ae338550f954748fbcdf6b35de667cab047a0ea0615a027a11327bfe3391c6ba