Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Andrew Wakefield, Fraudulent Charlatan or Autism Prophet???

Article first published as Andrew Wakefield, Fraudulent Charlatan or Autism Prophet??? on Technorati

In 1998 a shocking article was published in the popular medical magazine The Lancet. Dr. Andrew Wakefield (a gastro enterological researcher at the Royal Free Hospital in London) and his colleagues had tested 12 autistic children between the age of 3 and 10 years old and claimed to have found a possible connection between the measles-mumps-rubella (M.M.R.) vaccination, autistic enterocolitis (a controversial term created by Wakefield to describe an unproven form of inflammatory bowel disease) and regressive autism. According the article in The Lancet 8 of the 12 children developed autistic phenomena - together with gastrointestinal dysfunction - days after being injected with the M.M.R.-vaccine.

This article caused great upset amongst parents who, especially in Great Britain and the United States, massively abandoned the M.M.R. vaccination. As a result the number of children with measles increased dramatically. Major complications with measles are: otitis, pneumonia and meningitis, which can result in a permanent handicap or even death. In exceptional cases the measles can cause fatal encephalitis (sub acute sclerotic pan encephalitis) months or even years after the infection.

The head editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, declared “we should never have published it”.

In 1993 Wakefield did research to prove the connection between measles (or vaccination against measles) and Crohn’s disease. This research was refuted.

In 1995 Wakefield requested a patent (one year before he examined the first child) for a diagnosis kit for bowel diseases using the measles virus, which we can, without any exaggeration, label as a conflict of interest!!

In 2004 a journalist at The Sunday Times, Brian Deer, wrote a series of articles about the research of Wakefield (Secrets of the MMR scare: How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed) in which he proves that the fraud was intentional and the research unethical.

The Wakefield article claimed that, based on twelve cases, a new syndrome was discovered: a combination of a certain type of bowel disorder and regressive autism, almost immediately after the M.M.R. vaccination. But: There was only one child with regressive autism instead of nine.
Three of the nine children were not diagnosed with autism.
Five of the twelve children had been diagnosed with development problems before the vaccination. In some cases the behavioral problems started months after the vaccination and not days.
In nine cases the results of the bowel tests were normal, which later was changed into “non specific colitis”.
The parents were recruited by the anti-vaccination movement and in many cases Wakefield had extensive conversations with them before they came to the clinic.
Wakefield was financed by the Legal Aid Board, an organization who represented some of the parents whose children participated in the research and who were mounting a case against vaccine manufacturers.

After publication of these articles by Brian Deer, most of the coauthors of Wakefield withdrew their support for the study’s interpretations.

The British General Medical Council (GMC) conducted an inquiry against Wakefield, focusing on the accusation that children were subjected to unnecessary invasive medical procedures, such as colonoscopy and lumbar puncture.

In 2010 the statutory tribunal of the GMC found 36 charges proved including dishonesty and abuse of developmentally challenged children. The medical license of Wakefield was revoked and he is no longer allowed to practice medicine. The Lancet fully retracted the 1998 publication. Wakefield has continued to defend his research and conclusions, saying there was no fraud, hoax or profit motive.

Worldwide numerous people believe that the M.M.R. vaccine causes autism, based on one dubious study whose head researcher, Andrew Wakefield, was proven as committing fraud. He received a substantial sum of money of a legal aid group which made him manipulate the outcome of his research in such a way that it seemed that the M.M.R vaccine causes autism.

The real outcome is that millions of people worldwide refuse to vaccinate their children based on this questionable research and the once feared (and eradicated) pediatric diseases like measles have returned and have claimed lives.

Of course it’s absolutely necessary to keep researching what causes autism and find a cure (if possible), but in my opinion this study has done more harm than good.

Author: Nellisa Noordijk

Article first published as Andrew Wakefield, Fraudulent Charlatan or Autism Prophet??? on Technorati
Published: May 02, 2011 at 7:46 pm

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