Lancet retracts study linking autism, vaccine
The Lancet medical journal has fully retracted a 1998 study that linked a routine childhood vaccine to autism. A British medical panel ruled last week that a doctor who linked the common mumps-measles-rubella vaccine to autism acted “dishonestly and unethically” in his research. More than a decade ago, Dr. Andrew Wakefield published controversial research suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and the rising incidence of autism and autism-spectrum-related cases. More than a dozen researchers helped conduct the study and most have since renounced the study’s findings. “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,” the editors of the Lancet wrote in a statement today (Feb. 2). Yet many parents and some medical and science professionals still believe the vaccine is linked to autism although numerous studies have failed to support that conclusion. The 2 1/2-year probe by the council concluded that Wakefields research methods were flawed and unethical and that he acted “irresponsibly.” Wakefield has denied any wrongdoing and called the council’s findings “unjust.” “The allegations against me and against my colleagues are both unfounded and unjust, and I invite anyone to examine the contents of these proceedings and come to their own conclusion,” Wakefield said in a statement today. The statement was provided by Thoughtful House, an Austin, Texas, treatment center for children where Wakefield now works.