Decision Near In Ethics Probe Of Doctor Who Triggered Autism-Vaccine Fears
The results of an ethics investigation into the doctor whose controversial research sparked fears of a link between autism and vaccines are expected this week.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield is under investigation by Britain’s General Medical Council stemming from alleged ethical misconduct related to his 1998 study which first suggested a link between vaccination and autism.
The study published in the journal The Lancet looked at gastrointestinal issues in a small group of 12 children with autism. But it was a mention of vaccines within the paper that got the most significant attention.
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Even though Wakefield’s research did not focus on the relationship between autism and vaccines, he and his colleagues reported that eight of the 12 children in their study experienced signs of autism within days of receiving the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine. Then, at a press conference announcing the research Wakefield was asked about the MMR vaccine and he recommended giving single vaccines for each illness, rather than a cocktail, until further research could be conducted.
The study and Wakefield’s comments heralded in an anti-vaccine movement among the parents of many children with autism. Since then concerns about autism have led many parents to forgo childhood vaccination.
Meanwhile, however, Wakefield’s research has been called into question and the doctor has faced allegations of accepting secret kickbacks from anti-vaccine activists before publishing the controversial study. The Lancet retracted Wakefield’s study and further research has led to a consensus within the scientific community that there is no link between autism and vaccines.
The results of the British ethics investigation are expected later this week. Wakefield, who now lives and practices in Austin, Texas, says all he ever did was listen to the concerns of his patients, reports the (London) Daily Mail. To read more click here.