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Entries in Autism (52)

Wednesday
Jan052011

BMJ Declares MMR Study 'Elaborate Fraud'

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News(LONDON) – An article in the British Medical Journal has declared that a study that linked the MMR vaccine to autism was “an elaborate fraud” that may have led to the preventable disease and death of children.

In an editorial, the BMJ has charged that a 1998 study in Lancet by Andrew Wakefield was not just bad science, but rather a deliberate falsification of data. The journal’s editor-in-chief, Fiona Godlee, has called for an investigation into Wakefield’s other studies to determine if they too should be retracted. Lancet itself retracted the article a year ago, saying it contained elements that were “incorrect.”

Godlee has likened the scare caused by the article to the Piltdown man, the paleontological hoax that convinced people for 40 years that the missing link between man and ape had been found.

In a series of three articles, Godlee, along with deputy BMJ editor Jane Smith and leading pediatrician and associate BMJ editor Harvey Marcovitch, conclude that there is “no doubt” that it was Wakefield who perpetrated the fraud. Meanwhile, they say he has denied any wrongdoing.

“Instead, although now disgraced and stripped of his clinical and academic credentials, he continues to push his views. Meanwhile the damage to public health continues,” they said.

Medical experts have declared outrage over the article, questioning how many parents may have kept their children from vaccines based on Wakefield’s study.

 “We can only wonder how many children may have died or suffered debilitating illnesses because of this slander against a powerful medical tool that could have saved them, and how many still will before the autism scare is finally put to rest,” said Robert Field, professor of Law at Drexel University.

Some also question the study’s effect on the public’s trust in science.

“Andrew Wakefield has done inestimable damage to the public health both in the U.S. and Europe,” said Bill Schaffner, chairman of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt. “Bad enough when his work was thought to be a combination of inept science and misguided hucksterism – now there are allegations of premeditated fraud!”

And if those allegations are correct, could Wakefield be charged criminally or civilly in England or the U.S.? According to British and American legal experts, prosecutors would have to prove that Wakefield deliberately and knowingly published false information for personal gain. Furthermore, they would have to prove the study was a "substantial factor" in parents' decision to forego vaccination and that Wakefield could have "reasonably foreseen" kids getting sick because of his fraudulent study.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct112010

Newborns With Jaundice at Higher Risk of Developing Autism

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newborns diagnosed with jaundice at birth are at a greater risk of developing autism, according to researchers.  Their study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found that full-term infants who had jaundice were 67 percent more likely to develop autism.  These statistics were based on data they collected from babies born in Denmark between 1994 and 2004.

According to AFP, this percentage was based on data researchers collected from babies born in Denmark between 1994 and 2004.  Researchers also found an infant's risk for autism increased if the mother had previously given birth to other children, and if the baby was born between October and March.  They suggest this seasonal difference may be attributed to infections or daylight exposure, which affects jaundice.

As for the higher risk among children who are not firstborns, researchers say it could be due to varying levels of antibodies in mothers who have undergone multiple pregnancies, or to discrepancies in health care access among women post-delivery.

About 60 percent of term infants are born with jaundice and are cleared of it within their first week of life.  It usually occurs when the production of bilirubin, a substance found in bile, is elevated.  If neonatal jaundice doesn't resolve quickly, the study says prolonged exposure to high levels of bilirubin can result in lifelong developmental problems.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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