The Lancet retracts autism/vaccine study

Feb. 2, 2010 at 2:34 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The Lancet, a British medical journal, retracted a 1998 study that linked the childhood measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism.

The retraction follows an investigation by the General Medical Council, which oversees doctors in Britain, that found the study's lead author Dr. Andrew Wakefield acted unethically and dishonestly conducting the research, CNN reported.

"There was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper" and Wakefield's "conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible," the council said.

The General Medical Council said Wakefield paid children for blood samples for his research at his son's birthday party. He also subjected some children in the study to various invasive medical procedures such as colonoscopies and magnetic resonance imaging scans.

The claims in the 1998 study that children were not randomly chosen and that investigations were approved by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false, The Lancet said. The study resulted in some parents refusing to vaccinate their children.

Since the paper's publication in 1998, Wakefield's study has been criticized for being so flawed it should not be regarded as scientific. Subsequent studies have found no evidence that the vaccine had a link to either autism or gastrointestinal disorders.

Wakefield had theorized that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine given to toddlers caused gastrointestinal problems and these problems led to autism.

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