As you undoubtedly have seen in the news lately, the controversy around vaccines, particularly the MMR vaccine, and a possible link to autism is yet again a hot topic. We reported last February that The Lancet, the journal that originally printed Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 original study that implicated vaccines as a cause of autism, had issued a complete retraction after finding several elements of the research were flawed. This week, the British Medical Journal and investigator Brian Deer uncovered “clear evidence of falsification” of Wakefield’s data, which studied only 12 children.
Dr. Wakefield’s research has been questioned for years, and the ethics violations that have come to light are further sad indications that vaccines do not cause autism. As reported previously, the courts and several large-scale studies since have found no evidence of any link.
There are many children suffering from autism and other health disorders. More research must be done to find the cause and cure of this and other health conditions affecting children. One might say that sadly, well over a decade of time, energy, funding and other resources has been spent embroiled in the vaccine controversy. Others, however, feel that Dr. Wakefield’s publication created intense focus on one possible cause of the complex problem of autism, a condition that greatly needs scientific research. Hopefully, future efforts will be more productive.