Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Autism's False Profit - Disciplined
Andrew Wakefield is the medical doctor whose discredited research started the whole scare over MMR causing autism has been disciplined by the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK. The GMC (the regulatory agency that oversees the medical profession in the UK) ruled that Wakefield had showed a “callous disregard” for the suffering of children. They also ruled that his research was deceptive.
Wakefield and colleagues published a paper in the prestigious and venerable British medical journal, The Lancet which detailed 8 children who supposedly became autistic after getting the MMR vaccine. The children had gastrointestinal symptoms which lead to the theory that the vaccine changed the permiablity of the GI track and allowed substances into the blood and eventually to the brain resulting in autism. The paper said that the children were consecutively seen when this was not true. Most of the authors retracted the paper 6 years after it was published and today the journal completely retracted the 1998 paper that created all the controversy. What allowed the journal to retract the paper was the GMC's decision that the paper was deceptive.
I guess one could say too little too late. On the other hand I view this as the self correcting nature of science. Clearly there has been significant harm because of this paper and the hysteria it has provoked. Those who believe that vaccines are the cause of autism, of course, will not let any amount of scientific evidence change their minds. As it is said “You cannot reason people out of a position they have not reasoned themselves into.”
NY Times article about this