Lancet officially retracts study linking autism and MMR vaccine

The British medical journal Lancet yesterday announced its decision to officially retract Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 study linking autism and the MMR vaccine.

The decision was the result of long standing scientific concerns about the article – more than a dozen studies have proven there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorders – and a report from the British General Medical Council indicating the manuscript was significantly flawed.

In an ABC News article out today, Dr. William Schaffner, chair of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s Department of Preventive Medicine, was quoted as saying, “The retraction puts another nail in the coffin of this awful, painfully erroneous study.”

And while science may have been vindicated, I, unfortunately, don’t think Lancet’s decision will do anything to change the minds of vaccine critics. Once something has been published, it is almost impossible for people to truly forget the event.

Most pediatricians want nothing more than to find the causes of autism and work to eliminate them. I hope that with this move from Lancet, more scientists will put their time and resources toward discovering the true causes of autism, instead of chasing something that – now officially – has been proven to be wrong.

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Dr. Robert Frenck

About the Author: Dr. Robert Frenck

Robert W. Frenck, Jr., MD, is director of Clinical Medicine and a vaccine researcher at Cincinnati Children's. He has authored over 60 articles and book chapters on the topic of infectious diseases.

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