Wakefield reported on 12 cases, all he said were normal children until they received the MMR vaccine. Eight of the 12, the paper claimed, soon developed autism. But British journalist Brian Deer (in work that would have won him a Pulitzer if he hadn’t been a British journalist) went back to the records and found that five of the kids had developmental problems before receiving the vaccine, and reports on all the other children were manipulated. Deer wrote that Wakefield, who has lost his license to practice medicine in Britain and now lives in the U.S., had a monetary relationship with lawyers anxious to sue the vaccine makers.
Deer’s expose appears in the British Medical Journal and his work, interestingly, was paid for by the Sunday Times of London and the Channel Four Television Network. Among the findings:
*Three of nine children reported with regressive autism did not have autism diagnosed at all. Only one child clearly had regressive autism.
*Despite the paper claiming that all 12 children were 'previously normal,' five had documented pre-existing developmental concerns
*Some children were reported to have experienced first behavioral symptoms within days of MMR, but the records documented these as starting some months after vaccination
* In nine cases, unremarkable colonic histopathology results—noting no or minimal fluctuations in inflammatory cell populations—were changed after a medical school 'research review' to 'non-specific colitis'.
*The parents of eight children were reported as blaming MMR, but 11 families made this allegation at the hospital. The exclusion of three allegations—all giving times to onset of problems in months—helped to create the appearance of a 14 day temporal link.
*Patients were recruited through anti-MMR campaigners, and the study was commissioned and funded for planned litigation.
Wakefield says his findings were distorted. No they weren't.
The movement against vaccination mostly has been fueled by parents with autistic children who, it would seem, need to find someone or something to blame for their children's plight. No one knows the cause of autism, although it apparently has a strong genetic component. McCarthy, a former Playboy Playmate of the Year and failed actress, whose son Evan has autism, denounced the MMR vaccine, normally given to infants. She convinced thousands of people to not get their children vaccinated. Even years after it was clear the paper had no scientific basis, McCarthy and her followers continued to war against the vaccinations. Enough parents believed the assertions that childhood diseases almost unknown in the U.S. came back. Children have died.
Movements like hers do not go away just because their basic premise has been proven fraudulent. In this age of anti-science, truth is not a defense.