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The Lancet retracts study linking MMR vaccine and autism

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-02

Respected medical journal, The Lancet, formally retracted a 1998 paper by British doctor Andrew Wakefield (pictured) Tuesday which controversially linked autism with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

AFP - Medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday withdraw a 1998 study linking autism with innoculation against three childhood illnesses, a paper that caused a major storm and an enduring backlash against vaccination.
The British journal said it was acting in the light of an ethics judgement last week by Britain's General Medical Council against Andrew Wakefield, the study's lead researcher.
"We fully retract this paper from the published record," The Lancet's editors said in a statement published online.
The 1998 paper, based on a small sample of 12 children, implied a connection between an autism-like disorder and a triple vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella.
Although other experts said the claim was spurious, many parents in Britain were deeply alarmed and refused to have their children given the triple vaccine.
The slump in vaccine use has yet to fully recover today and as a result young, unprotected lives have been placed at risk, say doctors.
In 2004, 10 of the paper's 13 authors distanced themselves from part of the study, publishing what they called a "retraction of an interpretation."
In last Thursday's ruling, the General Medical Council attacked Wakefield for "unethical" research methods and for showing a "callous disregard" for the youngsters as he carried out tests.
He was also accused of acting in a "dishonest" and "irresponsible" way in describing the research.
"Following the judgement of the UK General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Panel on January 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 study by Wakefield et al are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation," The Lancet said.

Date created : 2010-02-02