Just this month a report has been publicized that the original research that linked the MMR immunization to the development of autism was fraudulent. The conclusions of the 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues was renounced by 10 of its 13 authors and later retracted by the medical journal Lancet, where it was published. Andrew Wakefield has had his medical license revoked.
This is all very disturbing. Why would reputable doctors condone a study based on fraudulent data? They take an oath to “do no harm,” yet have caused much damage to many children.
Though this report and its subsequent publicity caused parents around the world to delay or refuse immunization for their children, the rate of autism continues to rise. This, in itself, is enough to show there is not a universal link between the immunizations and autism. Some children may have a genetic susceptibility, like Hanna Poling, that leads to autism from immunizations, however they are a very small minority. Parents must use their best judgement for their own children.
The great danger comes from so many children not being immunized. Though measles was considered eradicated from most developed countries, there are now sporadic outbreaks of this deadly disease again. We cannot afford to have large numbers of children unvaccinated without risking deaths again from measles, mumps, and rubella.
So what do we do about autism?! The bottom line is, we still do not know what is causing this world-wide epidemic. We must wait for good, broad studies. My questions are: What changed some 20 years ago that caused this dramatic rise in Autism Spectrum Disorders? And why can we not find the link?