Health Law

Vaccine Autism Study Was ‘Elaborate Fraud,’ Medical Journal Says

  • Print.

The first study linking vaccines to autism was “an elaborate fraud,” according to an editorial by a British medical journal.

An accompanying story in the medical journal BMJ found that study author Andrew Wakefield misrepresented or changed the medical histories of the 12 children who were subjects of his 1998 paper, according to the Associated Press and CNN.

Wakefield had claimed that all 12 children were normal until they received vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella. But BMJ’s examination of hospital records found that five of the children had previously documented developmental problems, the CNN story says.

Wakefield’s 1998 article, published in Lancet, was retracted after a fitness panel found that Wakefield had acted unethically, in part by subjecting some children to unnecessary medical tests. At least five of the children in the study had been referred by plaintiffs lawyers.

Fears stoked by Wakefield’s findings spurred parents to eschew vaccines and led to the filing of more than 5,000 cases claiming an autism link in a special vaccine court here. The court rejected the vaccine theories, and the plaintiffs now hope to file in civil court, the ABA Journal reported in October.

Wakefield told CNN that his work has been “grossly distorted” and he has been targeted in a “ruthless” attempt to crush study of valid safety concerns.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.