British Journal Accuses Autism Researcher of Fraud in Study: What Happens Now?

In a major announcement on Jan. 6, 2011, the “British Medical Journal” (BMJ) published an article declaring the results of a research study released in 1998 by Dr. Andrew Wakefield fraudulent. The 1998 study linked autism to childhood vaccinations against measles-mumps-rubella with a form of autism and bowel disease.

Dr. Wakefield was a consultant in the field of experimental gastro-enterology at the Royal Free Hospital in London. The original study was published by the British medical journal “Lancet.” The accusation that the original study was fraudulent was based on an analysis of Dr. Wakefield’s data on 12 children who were believed to have developed autism after receiving the MMR vaccination.

Growing Controversy

The growing global controversy regarding the repudiation of this study is not a new, sudden announcement. The “Lancet” retracted the original Wakefield paper 12 months ago and, shortly after, Wakefield was stripped of his license to practice medicine in Britain.

The controversy began back in 2009, when the Sunday Times of London published a story contending that Dr. Wakefield had “doctored” his data concerning the link between the 12 children and the onset of their autism, which made it seem that the symptoms began only after receiving the MMR vaccination.

Major Problems

The major problem caused by the original Wakefield study and the “Lancet” article was that MMR vaccinations in Britain dropped dramatically, with immunization rates going from 92 percent to 73 percent; even lower rates have been reported in some areas of Brittan. The BMJ cited a major increase in the incidence of measles, and the disease was declared endemic in 2008. There are an estimated 125,000 children in Britain who are now unprotected against the three diseases. This is a potential health care disaster, and the ramifications will ripple for years to come, but there is a deeper back-story.

In the United States, an average of 1 in 110 children born will be diagnosed with one of the range of diseases known collectively as Autism Spectrum Disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That is just under 1 percent. The CDC also states that 13 percent of all children have some form of developmental disorders, ranging from mild language impairment to serious disabilities such as autism. This national awareness of autism and its impact has grown over the last 10 years due, in part, to the Lancet study and the research that the CDC have done.

What about New Vaccination Numbers?

The impact of this revelation on vaccination is apparent. Parents will begin to have their children protected with the MMR vaccination again. Beyond that, however, this story casts a wide light on the larger issue of the apparent endemic nature of ASDs and other developmental disorders. There has been talk of an epidemic based on the seeming increase in the incidence of these diseases; it is unclear and unsupported. Our awareness of the incidence of developmental disabilities has been increasing due to a greater understanding of the disorders and diagnostic science improvements.

The real issue is why are 13 percent of our children born learning disabled? Furthermore, why are 1 percent of our children born autistic? Has this always been the case and we simply did not notice? Is that even possible?

Dr. Wakefield’s study seemed to give insight to the problem, but, having been repudiated, research must begin anew to answer these questions. How many years of work have been lost due to this alleged fraud? How far back has medical science been set? Hopefully this will be a clarion call to answer some of these questions and save the children.

In conclusion, Wakefield’s thesis and argument were part of a devious propaganda by implying that vaccinations during childhood are the cause of autism, when the truth is far from it as it is there since birth or anyone can get afflicted from it at any point of time. Please note that autism is not a disease but a condition that can be cured over a period of time and medical practitioners have voiced their concern over patients who are suffering from it by providing moral support to them in the form of helpful advice through social media. If content marketing isn’t part of your practice marketing strategy then you cannot hope to spread your social message far and wide.