Journal Retracts Study That Suggested Autism-Vaccine Link
A medical journal formally retracted a 12-year-old study Tuesday that first sparked fears of a link between autism and vaccines.
The move by The Lancet comes after a British medical panel determined last week that the study’s lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in conducting his research.
“It has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation,” editors of The Lancet wrote in a statement published online Tuesday. “Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.”
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The study in question did not specifically look at the relationship between autism and vaccines. Nonetheless, Wakefield and his colleagues reported that eight of the 12 children who they researched experienced signs of autism within days of receiving the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine.
The study and comments from Wakefield led many parents to forgo childhood vaccination out of concerns about autism even as further scientific research disputed any link between vaccines and the developmental disorder.