Vaccines, Autism and Andrew Wakefield’s Victims

January 8, 2011

I thought we had seen Wakefield’s last stand.  But this week the British Medical Journal released a report detailing the calculated fraud that went into Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet publication linking the MMR vaccine with autism.  What’s newsworthy is the extent to which the data reported by Wakefield was fabricated.  For a thorough delineation of his shenanigans, read Orac’s coverage.

Much like the attention we offer a serial killer at the expense of his victims, Wakefield’s public evisceration comes at the expense of those he has damaged.  We shouldn’t overlook his impact on 3 populations:

Children.  Wakefield’s most obvious victim is our children.  While the pediatric community has worked desperately over the past two generations to make deadly childhood disease part of history, Wakefield and his disciples have done their part to see to it that diseases like whooping cough remain front and center.  To appreciate Wakefield’s most critical impact on children, grab a copy of The Forgotten Story.  It’s a compilation of first-hand stories told by the families of those touched by vaccine-preventable illness.  The expression on the faces of the young parents holding pictures of their children is chilling.

Parents.  Any parent who has ever had a fleeting second thought about protecting their child from measles, mumps or rubella is a victim of Andrew Wakefield’s crafted manipulation.  Parental fear is the fuel of a conspiratorial cottage industry that is slowly losing its base.

Pediatricians.  Ultimately it’s the pediatricians who are left to clean up the mess and advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves.  The cumulative hours spent by pediatric providers helping young families manage their fear represents an extraordinary expenditure.  The fraudulent connection between vaccines and autism will continue to occupy the precious minutes of well-child exams for years to come.

While I have been known to prematurely predict Wakefield’s final stand, his impact remains and he continues to claim victims.  I can comfortably predict that Wakefield will go down in history as one of modern medicine’s most important figures.  Not for what he advanced but for taking the most first steps toward reversing the eradication of deadly childhood disease.


{ 18 comments }

Safan January 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

I came across Wakefield during an research for an English class in undergrad about why parents were refusing vaccines for children. I was horrified at the amount of unsubstantiated claims made in the paper and the increasing incidence of preventable diseases in children. Most of all I saddened by the diversion this was creating to finding an actual cause(s) of autism.

I am glad that Wakefield’s fraud is being brought to the masses, but there is still a huge gap in convincing the parents of this fact.

Liz Ditz January 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Bryan, with all respect you don’t go far enough in the child victims. Thanks to Wakefield’s 13+ years of fraud, parents are subjecting their children to “treatments” based on the lies — years of anti-viral medication, supplements, restricted diets, even DIY fecal transplants.

Read these posts
http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/09/truth-and-consequences-%E2%80%93-the-anti-vaccination-movement-exacts-a-price/
http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2010/11/hope-and-false-hope/
http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2010/12/bring-the-crazy-fecal-transplant/

for samples of what parents, under the guidance of “biomedical” practitioners (including dentists, nurses, and chiropractors) are doing to their children.

DrV January 8, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Thanks, Liz. The autism cottage industry has had their way with the parents of these children. I was thinking strictly of the victims related to vaccine refusal but your point is well taken.

Alexander Cheezem January 11, 2011 at 11:04 am

Liz & Dr. V,

You’re also forgetting the increase in autism-related stigma created by the antivaxxer parents, the autism quack community’s constant opposition to the autistic rights movement… etc., etc.

Peggikaye January 8, 2011 at 8:20 pm

It started as the MMR and went onto the DPT ..and soon all vaccines were the essance of all that was evil in medicine, pharma, corporate american and the government.

Vaccine became the ‘it’ word to imply
conspiracy
&
destruction

No one really wanted to pay attention.

My husband had polio at the age of 3 … a friend who never asked what was wrong with him, assuming he had a particularly bad case of CP, started to go on and on and on about how bad the vaccine industry was and how the diseases that they ‘supposedly’ protected us from were, in truth, minor and most people didn’t even know they were sick.
We sat there, absolutely incredulous, as mis information and outright lies spewed from his and his wife’s mouth. We listened till they were talked out ..the last ‘minor’ disease they chose to attack was polio … how it was a cold … a bad one, but a cold … and most people feel more ill with the flu than polio …that the iron lung had been an imagination of a clever writer and that in reality there were few, if any deaths, and no long term complications for the survivors … which they kept using ‘air quotes’
they even found using the word ‘disease’ for these childhood diseases distasteful …

they finally came to a halt and waited for our dismay, our chiming in about how could we have been victims to such an evil conspiracy.

My husband stood up, quietly, and lifted his shirt in the resteraunt .. his gaunt frame … left as literal skin and bones with extremely severe scoliosis/kyphosis .. his stature that would ahve been about 6’3” had he not had polio .. a mere 5’3 on 1 foot and 5’1 on the other (when I married him, he was 5’6 on one and 5’3 on the other, he’s currently 5’2 and 4’11) he turned his back and showed them the scar that starts well below his waistband and goes 2/3 up his back from where they fused it ag age 6.

He said one sentence and then we left … we’ve not seen our friends since, but we know they’ve spread the anti vaccine debate further in our community …
his sentence
“Tell me again how polio left no lasting damage and come remind me in my nightmares that the iron lung that haunts me was a figment of someone ELSE’s imagination.”

DrV January 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm

This generation has forgotten about these diseases. Oprah needs to profile your husband. Thanks for sharing your story. Powerful.

Lissa Critz January 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm

The damage that this person (I deleted several more colorful descriptions because they all implied insanity, which isn’t the case and would actually give this jerk an out that he doesn’t deserve) has done will be felt for years to come. I actually pity the parents who have been duped by his fraud and by the irresponsible reporting on that fraud by the media. I feel for parents of children on the Autism Spectrum who are just desperate for answers and will cling to any rope thrown them. My daughter has severe food allergies and one of the most difficult things for a parent to come to terms with is that there is no known reason for what is wrong with your child. You want something or someone to rail against, to shake your fist at, to blame. But, in order to be the best parent to your child you MUST move past this stage of grief to be able to accept the diagnosis and learn how to live with the realities every day and provide the best life.

Alex January 8, 2011 at 9:09 pm

The BMJ article by Brian Deer is available online: http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347.full

I am an autism parent, not a doctor, but I found the writing accessible. I am looking forward to the installments to follow.

Judy Converse MPH RD LD January 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Is there a vaccine-autism link? The gap I see, as a nutrition professional (MPH, RD, LD) who has worked with children with autism for twelve years, is in a willingness to open our minds, and in awareness among MDs of studies that corroborate Wakefield’s work. Why don’t you guys read this stuff? I am weary of doing this lit search for the MD community over and over. Wakefield is not alone, not a fraud. I challenge you to pause, breathe, read (links aplenty below), and wonder. Think it through: What if he’s right?

There are fewer, not more, children getting measles in the UK since Andrew Wakefield voiced his concerns for the bundled MMR vaccine. See this analysis for data on measles cases pre and post Wakefield: http://bit.ly/gmoBpB

I would also point out (groan, again) that Wakefield’s infamous original Lancet article was a case series. It did not test a hypothesis that MMR causes autism, nor did it intend to. It did not state this at all, as the media has relentlessly hyped. I wonder how many MDs have actually read this original article, or even know the findings published there. The real tragedy is that the message of that original case series has been long lost in the sensationalist media cacophony. Again, think: What if he’s right? Would Pharma, CDC, FDA, AAP, ACIP, UK GMC, and NIH stand up and say – “Oops. Sorry.” Would the US go into even greater financial arrears, to pay the hundreds of thousands of injured families the billions they would be due? Do you really think that Wakefield is anything more than an unlucky fall guy for these colossally powerful, profitable entities? What a tidy solution if he is indeed a fraud. I don’t think he is, after reviewing food intakes, GI sx, growth patterns, medical histories, and developmental histories on hundreds of children with autism.

Enough lamenting. I’m always asked, so here are some citations to start for the uninitiated. Wakefield has company. Can all these journals and authors be wrong? O.Sheils, P.Smyth. C Martin. J.J. O’Leary. Development of an ‘allelic discrimination’ type assay to differentiate between the strain origins of measles virus detected in intestinal tissue of children with ileocolonic lymphonodular hyperplasia and concomitant developmental disorder. 
J Pathol. 2002;198. Okay, here’s another one.. http://bit.ly/rKeth And another: http://bit.ly/fXmchZ Oh alright, I will keep going…http://bit.ly/cr0HAL and http://bit.ly/eTH7Vg and http://bit.ly/aYirdO ..Here’s a page with over twenty citations for MMR-autism: http://www.jabs.org.uk/pages/thrower.asp

Lastly, we never hear much about this study, perhaps the most damning of them all. It is the only one that reviewed the immunization schedule as it is given to human infants – something the FDA never required anybody to review before allowing our children to be given dozens of vaccines in a short time span, or as many as twelve or fifteen in one day, as I have seen on my patients’ vaccine records. It was a prospective case controlled study with primates, the closest animal model to humans that we can use. Do you know the outcome? Read it and weep, for our children. They are not victims of Wakefield, who should be collecting a Nobel Prize about now. They are victims of MD ignorance, MDs who are complicit this convenient status quo, and Pharma’s greed.
http://imfar.confex.com/imfar/2008/webprogram/Paper3024.html

DrV January 8, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Judy – I think it’s important to read the investigation into Wakefield’s ‘study’ and understand that his work was fabricated. It’s fraudulent. Therefore deliberation about whether his ‘work’ was a series becomes irrelevant. If his data hadn’t been falsified, we could perhaps have an intelligent debate about what the numbers mean. But we can’t.

I have evaluated the Everest-sized stack of peer reviewed studies from all corners of the planet and unfortunately the concerns initiated by Wakefield have never been substantiated.

And I forgot one other victim of Wakefield: The cottage industry that stands to make a buck victimizing unsuspecting parents with unsubstantiated therapies. Wakefield has done his part to erode business. But I’m sure you’d agree that’s a good thing.

Concerning MDs and greed. I might remind you that this global panic began with the greed of one man, Andrew Wakefield, who created data after being paid some 700k pounds by attorneys looking to sue vaccine manufacturers.

I don’t think they award the Nobel for that.

Sullivan January 11, 2011 at 12:12 pm

“I would also point out (groan, again) that Wakefield’s infamous original Lancet article was a case series. It did not test a hypothesis that MMR causes autism, nor did it intend to. It did not state this at all, as the media has relentlessly hyped.”

It was Mr. Wakefield himself who promoted the idea that he had evidence. In the video that was made for the news conference for the Lancet article, Mr. Wakefield

“DR ANDREW WAKEFIELD: Again, this was very contentious and you would not get consensus from all members of the group on this, but that is my feeling, that the, the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.”

http://briandeer.com/wakefield/royal-video.htm

It was Mr. Wakefield who promoted the idea that the vaccine was causal.

The last paper cited–the IMFAR abstract is a case study in bad science. They have published the paper now. They claim in the paper that in unvaccinated monkeys, they go through a period of infancy where their brains don’t grow and that parts of the brain actually shrink. Yes, infant monkeys brains don’t grow over a 3 month period. But, vaccinated monkeys do show brain growth. Tell me, do you think infant brains should grow or shrink? If we take this study seriously, we should vaccinate our kids to insure that their brain development is protected.

The fact is, they had far too few animals to draw any real conclusions. What they are reporting is statistical noise, nothing more. It was a waste of animal life. But it goes to show that bad science will be promoted to further the cause of autism as vaccine injury.

http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2010/07/the-genie-is-out-of-the-bottle-vaccines-cause-autism/

Mike Stanton January 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm

The article by Yazbak that you refer to uses notified measles cases. But since 1995 all notified and suspected cases are subject to laboratory testing. The number of confirmed cases is much lower and bears no relation to the number of notifications. The confirmed cases also show that more children are getting measles now than before Wakefield voiced his concerns.

There is also the fact that measles is once more endemic in the UK. In the early years of the vaccine scare the proportion of vaccinated children was still high enough to maintain herd immunity. There were isolated outbreaks when measles was imported into the country. But each one was contained. However years of sub-optimal vaccination levels have created a sufficiently large population of non-vaccinated individuals so that the number of children susceptible to measles is now sufficient to support the continuous spread of measles in the UK.

David Foster January 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm

For someone who writes and thinks about the “convergence between media and medicine”, I am surprised to see so much ignorance in your writing. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but you are clearly not familiar with any of the relevant facts in this issue. And you quote the great and mighty “Orac” as “evidence”? I would think that the first step in vetting any information would be to require a first and last name.

First and foremost, understand that the article in the BMJ was not a “report”, it was an editorial which was based completely on misinformation and lies which have been perpetuated by journalist Brian Deer…hearsay as the legal profession calls it. Surprisingly enough, it was Deer who first submitted the complaint to the GMC regarding Wakefield, and then proceeded to report on it as an unbiased journalist, without Deer nor the GMC revealing this fact. Despicable.

The GMC hearings wasted years of time, and resulted in Dr Wakefield losing his license to practice medicine in the UK. Now the BMJ decides to regurgitate Brian Deer’s lies again. And all of this without not a single complaint from one of the parents of the original 12 children in Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet study. In fact there has never been anything but complete support for Wakefield and the other doctors at the Royal Free from these parents:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHrgYxqcU0w&feature=player_embedded

The data in the 1998 Lancet study was not altered or “fixed”, in fact by definition this would not have been possible…please do your homework and you will come to understand this yourself. This study was a simple case report and was not intended to link MMR and autism. Dr. Wakefield did not cause the decline in MMR uptake in the UK, he simply recommended that parents get single measles, mumps and rubella vaccines for their children (at the request of health agency officials, by the way)…it was the government’s decision to ignore parents’ concerns and make single vaccines unavailable 6 months later which caused the drop in immunization rates. The findings from this 1998 study have been replicated all over the world in many different studies, and it is now accepted as fact in the medical community that autistic children often suffer from gastrointestinal problems.

DrV claims above to have scoured the planet for all papers relevant to this issue, but then insists that “the concerns initiated by Wakefield has never been substantiated” [bad English preserved]. DrV, you are either lying about reading the relevant papers, or you have a reading comprehension problem. As I said, the findings of Dr Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet study have been replicated over and over again. Here is one example of many:

http://www.la-press.com/article.php?article_id=1816

Please also see:
http://www.whale.to/vaccines/wakefield71.html
http://nutritioncare.net/blog/2011/01/09/wakefield-has-company/

Chris January 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Actually there were two separate BMJ links, one is an article and the other is an editorial. You will now be ignored because you have invoked Scopie’s Law:

In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses you the argument immediately …and gets you laughed out of the room.

David Foster January 10, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Ok fair enough and I apologize for my tone. I promise to abide by the rules of this blog.

Now would you care to comment on the substance of what I said??

Did you in fact scour the planet for relevant papers on this topic? Are you aware that there are many papers published in peer-reviewed journals which have replicated the findings of Dr. Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet study?

Curious to know what you think of the following, which is a very incomplete overview of research on this subject which I put together in a response to Newsweek magazine regarding a very biased and misleading article on autism:

==================================================
Overview of Research
==================================================

(In reply to Newsweek Article “Understanding Autism” 7/31/2002)

It is more than unfortunate that you failed to mention the
most important of Dr. Wakefield’s findings, and failed to
even address the recent findings of other researchers,
including Dr. H. Kawashima, Dr. John O’Leary, and Dr. Vijendra
Singh, who have all provided very important information relating
directly to this issue. Why was this information not included?

Specifically, to date Dr. Wakefield has studied over 150
children with autistic enterocolitis. He has found
raised circulating IgG measles antibody levels and measles-
specific antigen in the intestinal tissues of a significant
number of these children.[1] In short, he has found measles
virus in their guts. Why did you fail to mention this most
basic fact about his research?

Dr. Wakefield’s findings were replicated by Dr. John O’Leary
using at least 4 different techniques.[2] He located,
quantitated, and sequenced measles virus in the gut of 24 out
of 25 (96%) autistic children, but in only 1 of 15 (6.6%) control
children. He studied samples from the same children as did
Dr. Wakefield, so this was a direct confirmation of Dr.
Wakefield’s findings in a subset of these children.

In addition, Dr. Wakefield’s and Dr. O’Leary’s findings
were replicated again by Dr. H. Kawashima in Japan. He was
able to identify the measles virus as being consistent with
the vaccine strain of the measles virus in the MMR vaccine,
thus directly implicating the MMR vaccine as the source of
measles virus in the gut in these children.[3]

In a correspondence to the Lancet (1998;352:234-5), researchers
from Georgetown University Medical Center provide support for
Dr. Wakefield’s hypothesis, that lesions in the gut may lead
to CNS disturbances. They have studied such disorders as
migraine, infantile colic, abdominal epilepsy, and attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder, and have found associations
between these disorders and disturbances in the gut. They
propose “that similar mechanism(s) may be involved in the
pathogenesis of the CNS dysfunction in the patients described
by Wakefield and co-workers”.[4]

Of particular importance in their correspondence is the
following statement:

“Although Wakefield’s study, which suggests a connection
between the CNS and the gut in patients previously
immunised with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine,
did not prove an association, it has stimulated further
discussion and opened unanticipated lines of investigation
concerning the role of ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia
as a predictive marker of gastrointestinal inflammation
responsible for immunologically mediated tissue injury in
other target organs sites.” [4]

So you see, not only has an association between vaccines and
autism been demonstrated, but a possible mechanism has been
described.[5] Another group, which has been studying autism
for 11 years and has studied over 1200 autistic children, has
reached the conclusion that “autism results from the action of
peptides originating outside the body affecting neurotransmitters
within the CNS”. These peptides are a result of incomplete
digestion that could very well be caused by the kind of damage
to the gut wall that Dr. Wakefield found in autistic children.
It is believed that the attenuated measles virus in the MMR
vaccine causes an “infection in the intestines and produces
the hyperplasia [abnormal growth] and an increased
permeability of the intestinal wall”.[6]

Dr. Vijendra Singh provided convincing evidence that this
condition is in fact an autoimmune insult. He found
autoantibodies to myelin basic protein and neuron-axon
filament protein in autistic children, suggesting that
these childrens’ immune systems are attacking their
brain tissue.[7] In further studies, he found an
association between measles virus antibody and brain
autoantibodies (the more measles virus antibody, the more
brain autoantibodies present). [8] As he summarizes: “[this]
supports the hypothesis that a virus-induced autoimmune
response may play a role in autism”.

It is unfortunate that your journalists did not review
the study by Dr. Brent Taylor more thoroughly and with
a critical eye before portraying it as solid evidence
against a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. First,
this study claims that it did not find evidence that the
incidence of autism increased significantly (“stepped up”)
following the introduction of the MMR vaccine in Britain in
1988. [9] This is because the Public Health Laboratory Service
(PHLS), which sponsored the study, assumed that the step-up
would occur in children born one year before the introduction
of MMR, since these would be the first children to be eligible
for vaccination. Well, in fact the PHLS ignored its own “catch-up”
policy of vaccinating children starting at age 2-3, regardless
of whether they had been previously vaccinated. Once you take
these children into account, the step-up should occur in
children born 2-3 years before the introduction of MMR, in
1986. And guess what, this is exactly what this study found!
The significant increase in autism cases can easily be seen in
their main Figure 1. [10]

Furthermore, the study also looked at the relationship
between the timing of first parental concern and when the
MMR vaccine was given. But when a significant peak in
parental concern was found at 6 months after MMR vaccination,
it was summarily dismissed by the authors as an artifact of
the parents’ difficulty in pinpointing when their childrens’
symptoms first developed.

So the Taylor study:

a) Found an step-up or increase in autism cases
associated with the introduction of the MMR vaccine;

b) Found an increase in parental concern 6 months after
their children received the MMR vaccine.

It is also worth noting that a debate in the Royal Stastical
Society in Londed concluded that Taylor’s study design was
wrong. Taylor himself states in the text that the case-series
analysis he uses is “valid for rare chronic disorders of
acute onset”.[9] I would hope that, at the very least, we have
all become convinced that autism is NOT a rare disorder. And
as noted by JH Roger, “the case-series approach is appropriate
for investigating acute adverse events such as febrile
convulsions but is not suitable for long-term effects of
vaccination” [11,12]

Now, why is it that this study continues to be cited as
evidence that there is no connection between the MMR vaccine
and autism? Originally the Medical Research Council (MRC)
touted this study as definitive proof against a link, with
then chief medical officer Kenneth Calman declaring that
such a link has been ruled out by the panel.

But later Dr. Ken Aitkin, an authority on autism and himself
a member of the MRC, admitted that the Department of Health
did not accurately put forward the conclusions reached by the
MRC. “We did not conclude that autism was not linked to MMR.
The view was that there was a problem which needed to be looked
at very carefully and there was not enough evidence to rule
out a link”. [13] And later still, Dr. Aitkin actually agreed
to act as an expert witness on behalf of parents suing 3 vaccine
manufacturers for alleged damage done to their children by
MMR vaccine!

References:
—————–

1. Testimony before Congressional Oversight Committee
on Autism and Immunisation. Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield MB.,
BS FRCS. April 6, 2000.

http://www.house.gov/reform/hearings/healthcare/00.06.04/index.htm

2. Testimony before Congressional Oversight Committee
on Autism and Immunisation. Dr. John O’Leary MD, PhD,
MSc, MRCPath. April 6, 2000.

http://www.house.gov/reform/hearings/healthcare/00.06.04/index.htm

3. Detection and sequencing of measles virus from peripheral
mononuclear cells from patients with inflammatory bowel
disease and autism.
Kawashima H, Mori T, Kashiwagi Y, Takekuma K, Hoshika A, Wakefield A

Dig Dis Sci 2000 Apr;45(4):723-9

4. Correspondence in Lancet, 1998; 352: 234-5.
Aderbal Sabra, Joseph A Bellanti, Angel R Colsn,
International Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of
Immunology, and Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown
University Medical Center, Washington, DC

5. Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis,
and pervasive developmental disorder in children.
Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, et al.
Lancet 1998; 351: 637-41.

6. Autism: a gut feeling.
Paul Shattock, OBE, Director of Autism Research Unit,
University of Sunderland.
What Doctors Don’t Tell You, February 1999, Volume 9,
No 11, pg 12.

7. Antibodies to myelin basic protein in children with
autistic behavior. Singh, V.K.,
Journal of Neuroimmunology. 66,143-145, 1996.

8. Serological Association of Measles Virus and Human
Herpesvirus-6 with Brain Autoantibodies in Autism.
Vijendra K. Singh, Sheren X. Lin, and Victor C. Yang.
Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology, Vol. 89, No. 1,
October, pp. 105-108, 1998.

9. Autism and measles, mumps and rubella vaccine; no
epidemiological evidence for a causal association.
Taylor B, Miller E, Farrington CP, Petropoulos MC,
Favot-Mayland I, Li J, Waight PA.
Lancet 1999; 353: 2026-2029.

10. Viewpoint: A Spin on the Truth, Lynne McTaggart.
Quoting: Paul Shattock, OBE, Director of Autism Research Unit,
University of Sunderland.
What Doctors Don’t Tell You, August 1999, Volume 10, No 4, pg 5.

11. Letter to Lancet re: Taylor study.
http://www.whaleto.freeserve.co.uk/v/roger.html

12. Case series analysis of adverse reactions to vaccines:
a comparative evaluation
Farrington CP, Nash J, Miller E.
Am J Epidemiol 1996; 143: 1165-73

13. Viewpoint: MMR: Defector in the ranks, Lynne McTaggart.
What Doctors Don’t Tell You, November 1999, Volume 10,
No 7, pg 5.

DrV January 10, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Actually, I did scour the planet but failed to mention that I limit my reading to journals actually recognized by the National Library of Medicine. Maybe you should consider more reputable sources.

Even if I chose to give your centerpiece ‘reference’ the benefit of the doubt, it’s hard to see beyond the fact that the article was penned by Arthur Krigsman. For the readers, Krigsman was Wakefield’s partner-in-crime at Austin’s Thoughtful House. You might be interested to know that Krigsman conveniently serves on the editorial board of “Autism Insights.”

Concerning your efforts to build a case supporting a link between the MMR and Wakefield’s enterocolitis, keep in mind that this connection was recognized as contrived long before last week’s report in BMJ. You might reference Dan Burton’s congressional committee testimony of Nicholas Chadwick, the research assistant who personally performed the analysis on the intestinal biopsies cited in Wakefield’s Lancet study.

“For months he had been extracting genetic material from children’s gut biopsies, looking for evidence of measles from the MMR. That was the crucial first link in the chain of argument connecting the MMR to autism: the measles virus infects the gut, causing inflammation and leakage, then gut leakage lets neurotoxic compounds into the blood and brain. Yet Chadwick kept coming up empty-handed. “There were a few cases of false positives, [but] essentially all the samples tested were negative,” he later told a judicial hearing. When he explained the negative results, he told NEWSWEEK, Wakefield “tended to shrug his shoulders. Even in lab meetings he would only talk about data that supported his hypothesis. Once he had his theory, he stuck to it no matter what.” Chadwick was more disappointed than upset, figuring little would come from the Lancet study. “Not many people thought [Wakefield] would be taken that seriously,” Chadwick recalls. “We thought most people would see the Lancet paper for what it was—a very preliminary collection of [only 12] case reports. How wrong we were.” – Newsweek Magazine, Anatomy of a Scare.”

Just as the man who originally conducted Wakefield’s tissue analysis knows, the link between MMR and gut disease was cooked. A long list of references can’t counter the reality of fraudulent research.

And I forgot one more victim of Wakefield’s creative science: the anti-vaccine movement. Wakefield’s greed has done its part to corrode the credibility of those looking to make the illusive connection.

Sullivan January 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm

The idea that Mr. Wakefield’s study has been “replicated” is false, based on a misrepresention of the study.

If you check the abstract, the first sentence under “findings” is:

“Onset of behavioural symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children, with measles infection in one child, and otitis media in another.”

As Mr. Deer has disclosed, this is false on many fronts. Mr. Wakefield’s “behavioral symptoms” include “fever”. Not exactly an autism symptom. More damning is that Mr. Wakefield changed the reported “onset” time for some parents’ reports to make it seem more causal. Second, Mr. Wakefield dropped other parent reports where he couldn’t change the timing, so that he could claim a short time interval between MMR and onset of symptoms.

He also states in the abstract:

“Interpretation We identified associated gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression in a group of previously normal children, which was generally associated in time with possible environmental triggers. ”

Many of the children were not “previously normal”, but had signs of developmental delay before they had the MMR vaccine.

Dr. V, I don’t recall Nick Chadwick testifying before Senator Burton. He did testify before the Omnibus Autism Proceeding (vaccine court) and showed clearly that Mr. Wakefield ignored negative results from his own laboratory in favor of those which supported the claim he was trying to make.

Lou January 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Although Judy Converse earns a living from children with autism, in part via her scare tactics involving anti-vaccine writings, she is quite incapable of interpreting data, or even simple mathematical facts drawn from this data.
Please note her epic misinterpretation and mathematical missteps regarding infant mortality on her own site:

“Actually, babies there die a lot less frequently than they do in the US, which ranks 44th in the world for infant mortality (Japan is 4th). In 1960, when I was born, we ranked 12th. So, if you’re pregnant right now and living in the US, your baby is about four times more likely to die in its first year than I was.”

http://nutritioncare.net/blog/2010/03/30/can%E2%80%99t-get-these-babies-in-the-usa/

It is not true that a child born now is more likely to die than in 1960, and Ms. Converse fails to mention the criteria surrounding comparisons of infant mortality among countries that invalidate her notion, as well as the fact that US infant mortality numbers have steadily improved, although slowly, all along (and yes, with the inclusion of additional vaccines over that time).

This is a good example of how facts and data are used to mislead parents.

As a parent of a child with autism, I would like to move past the defense expended on Wakefield’s fraud, and the waste of time and resources that he and his defenders have perpetuated.

There are many legitimate issues that need our attention, and we should be encouraging and supporting the ethical professionals to investigate legitimate questions and issues.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: