If you have kids, you've no doubt looked considered whether or not to vaccinate your children. And if your research has gone beyond the brochures handed out at your doctor's office, you have probably heard of the Wakefield study, the now notorious 1998 study that was the first to raise concerns about the potential link between vaccination and autism. It turns out, that study was a complete fake.

The study, led by Andrew Wakefield, then a consultant in experimental gastroenterology at London's Royal Free Hospital, supposedly uncovered a "new syndrome" of autism and bowel disease among 12 children. Wakefield linked it to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, also known as MMR, because eight of the kids in the study were vaccinated shortly before the symptoms emerged.

The Wakefield study put fear in the hearts of parents around the world and was the sole reason that millions of parents made the decision to delay or decline vaccination for their children.

Yet, according to data released today from an investigation by the British Medical Journal, the data was faked. The journal reported that Sunday Times investigative journalist Brian Deer had "unearthed clear evidence of falsification," that included falsification of the children's medical records, skewed data, and a controversial and unethical payoff for Wakefield. 

Deer found that none of the cases, as reported in the Wakefield study, matched what actually appeared in the children's official medical records. He also found that diagnoses had been misrepresented and dates faked to more conveniently draw a link between vaccination and the onset of symptoms. Of the nine children Wakefield described as having "regressive autism," only one clearly had this condition and three were not diagnosed with autism at all.  

All of that would have been bad enough, but Deer found even more evidence to suggest that Wakefield's motives were shady from the start.

According to his investigation, Deer found that the Wakefield study had been skewed in advance, as the researchers intentionally recruited patients who opposed to the MMR vaccine. Finally, Deer uncovered that Wakefield had been confidentially paid an elaborate sum of money through a law firm with plans to launch class-action litigation against the vaccine.

Am I shocked by these findings? No, but I have to admit that I never suspected this level of deception. I mean, why even bother recruiting actual patients at all? Why not just dream up what you want your study to say and post it to Facebook?  

What do you think of this info? Does it change your mind about vaccination?

[via Reuters]

Read more about this story on MNN: Autism vaccine research declared a 'fraud'

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