(CNN) -- A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an "elaborate fraud" that has done long-lasting damage to public health, a leading medical publication reported Wednesday.
An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study's author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study -- and that there was "no doubt" Wakefield was responsible.
"It's one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors," Fiona Godlee, BMJ's editor-in-chief, told CNN. "But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data."
Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license in May 2010. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday.
"Meanwhile, the damage to public health continues, fueled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals and the medical profession," BMJ states.
The now-discredited paper panicked many parents and led to a sharp drop in the number of children getting the vaccine that prevents measles, mumps and rubella. Vaccination rates dropped sharply in Britain after its publication, falling as low as 80 percent by 2004. Measles cases have gone up sharply in the ensuing years.
In the United States, more cases of measles were reported in 2008 than in any other year since 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90 percent of those infected had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown, the CDC reported.
"But perhaps as important as the scare's effect on infectious disease is the energy, emotion and money that have been diverted away from efforts to understand the real causes of autism and how to help children and families who live with it," the BMJ editorial states.
Wakefield has been unable to reproduce his results in the face of criticism, and other researchers have been unable to match them. Most of his co-authors withdrew their names from the study in 2004 after learning he had had been paid by a law firm that intended to sue vaccine manufacturers -- a serious conflict of interest he failed to disclose. After years on controversy, the Lancet, the prestigious journal that originally published the research, retracted Wakefield's paper last February.
The series of articles launched Wednesday are investigative journalism, not results of a clinical study. The writer, Brian Deer, said Wakefield "chiseled" the data before him, "falsifying medical histories of children and essentially concocting a picture, which was the picture he was contracted to find by lawyers hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers and to create a vaccine scare."
According to BMJ, Wakefield received more than 435,000 pounds ($674,000) from the lawyers. Godlee said the study shows that of the 12 cases Wakefield examined in his paper, five showed developmental problems before receiving the MMR vaccine and three never had autism.
"It's always hard to explain fraud and where it affects people to lie in science," Godlee said. "But it does seem a financial motive was underlying this, both in terms of payments by lawyers and through legal aid grants that he received but also through financial schemes that he hoped would benefit him through diagnostic and other tests for autism and MMR-related issues."
Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, said the reporting "represents Wakefield as a person where the ends justified the means." But he said the latest news may have little effect on those families who still blame vaccines for their children's conditions.
"Unfortunately, his core group of supporters is not going to let the facts dissuade their beliefs that MMR causes autism," Wiznitzer said. "They need to be open-minded and examine the information as everybody else."
Wakefield's defenders include David Kirby, a journalist who has written extensively on autism. He told CNN that Wakefield not only has denied falsifying data, he has said he had no way to do so.
"I have known him for a number of years. He does not strike me as a charlatan or a liar," Kirby said. If the BMJ allegations are true, then Wakefield "did a terrible thing" -- but he added, "I personally find it hard to believe that he did that."
CNN's Elizabeth Cohen and Miriam Falco contributed to this report.
Autism on the rise is not a manmade affliction nor related. This increase is related to inbreeding, among those with similar propensities. Obsessive individuals do not feel comfortable among those with high emotions and spontaneity. They bond, befriend, and spend time with others who like a regimented life style. Repeatedly intermarrying, this then becomes a dominate gene, and expresses.
Additional ZetaTalk added Dec 14, 2005.
Why is the evidence against mercury so high, so low as to be almost absent in the Amish and children being schooled at home as their parents want to avoid the vaccination requirements for entry into the school system and the like? Why the upsurge in autism in recent years, in parallel with the mercury in vaccines? Where the evidence against pharmaceutical companies and the government agencies leaned on to exclude any data that would pave the way for litigation against them in no way makes them heroes, here the link is not failsafe. If the vaccine melts the brain of a child, then why have all such children so vaccinated between 1989 and 2003 been so affected?
What else has been on the rise since 1989? Beaching whales; mad cow disease and the wildlife equivalent, a wasting disease; dead fish washing up on beaches; the red tide, an algae bloom; flesh eating bacteria; chronic fatigue syndrome; depression among adults; suicide among children; adults and teens going postal and murdering their families and then themselves. What factors can affect this?
All of this affecting the psyche and immune systems of humans. What effect does this have on human interactions? Job loss and bankruptcies stress the wage earner and his or her family alike. Marital harmony is stressed. Couples wanting children find themselves unable to conceive. Fathers find their confidence in being a protector of the family challenged, and mothers wanting a secure environment for their newborns and young find themselves tense. Children reflect the environment they find themselves in, and even those homes supposedly sheltered from the buffeting of economic problems sense the shape the world is in. The parents are tense, the child withdraws, and this is all symptomatic of the stress the parents are under. If the issue of why the Earth changes are occurring, and what people can do about helping themselves, were openly discussed, this would ease as direct action against the real issues would occur. But instead, due to the cover-up, the public is told to carry on, march in place as though nothing were wrong, and this is the real culprit in the autism increase.
Additional ZetaTalk added Dec 3, 2007
Autism, as childhood schizophrenia, has the brain chemistry affected, just as adult schizophrenia does - an excess of this chemical, a lack of that chemical, etc. Just as the homosexual lifestyle can affect the brain development, can affect the hormones released, the decision by the child's body to be insane, to withdraw, can affect the developing child's brain, which is so very plastic. Fever disturbs chemical relationships, chemical bonds, breaking them and thus allowing normal brain development for a time. Regular heat treatments may result in the treatment of autistic children, in an attempt to change the course of the disease, but this will prove futile in most cases.
That auto-immune factors have been found in some mothers, where their bodies are attacking the fetus brain, is not surprising, as in autism cases the mothers are often tense, under stress, the setting that causes childhood schizophrenia in the first place. Auto-immune disease is due to a heightened immune system, as allergies are, so the fact that the mother is reacting to what her body might consider a foreign substance from the fetus is not surprising. This reaction in the mother can also teach the fetus to react in a similar fashion. The fetus brain cells, attacked, break down into pieces, each viewed by the developing fetus as a foreign substance as the clues that the cell is whole are missing, disrupted.
- Fever can unlock autism's grip: study
Dec 3, 2007
- It appears that fever restores nerve cell communications in regions of the autistic brain, restoring a child's ability to interact and socialize during the fever. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, was based on 30 children with autism aged 2 to 18 who were observed during and after a fever of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. The change involved things like longer concentration spans, more talking, improved eye contact and better overall relations with adults and other children.
- Autoimmune Theories
- Brain autoantibodies to myelin basic protein (anti-MBP) and neuron-axon filament protein (anti-NAFP) have been found in autistic children. Immunological testing of autistic children has shown certain features that are also found in patients with autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, thyroid disease, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, insulin-dependent diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. These are: genetic predisposition -- autism shows a greater concordance rate in monozygotic twins than in the normal population; gender factor - autism is 4 or 5 times more common in boys than in girls; triggering by microorganisms - rubella virus and cytomegalovirus infections have been indirectly linked to autism; maternal factors --maternal antibodies in autism were detected; (e ) major histocompatibility association -- autism displays genetic linkage with immunogenetic factors located on chromosome six; and immune activation.
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