"Data 'faked' on vaccine dangers
January 7, 2011
AN INFAMOUS 1998 study that ignited a worldwide scare over vaccines and autism - and led millions of parents to delay or decline potentially lifesaving vaccinations for their children - was ''an elaborate fraud'', according to a scathing three-part investigation in the British Medical Journal.
The study has long since been debunked and dismissed by the scientific community, which points to 14 studies that have failed to find any link between vaccines and autism.
Last year, The Lancet issued a formal retraction and British medical authorities found the study's lead author, Andrew Wakefield, guilty of serious professional misconduct, stripping him of his ability to practise medicine in Britain.
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Now, the British Medical Journal reports that Dr Wakefield, who was paid more than $US675,000 ($A676,000) by a lawyer hoping to sue vaccine makers, was not just unethical but falsified data in the study, which suggested children developed autism after being vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.
In fact, the children's records show some had symptoms of developmental problems long before being vaccinated. Several had no autism diagnosis at all.
Dr Wakefield could not be reached for comment.
Vaccination rates in England plummeted after his news conference to promote his study.