Media Vultures Have Another Go At Andrew Wakefield’s Research

This week the news from around the world has focused on Dr Andrew Wakefield’s research. Headlines such as ‘Autism study dismissed as fraud‘ (…) and ‘Paper linking Autism to vaccines was an “elaborate fraud”‘ (…) were littered throughout the news like confetti at a wedding.

According to the British Medical Journal Wakefield’s paper published 1998 in the Lancet linking the MMR vaccine to Autism was an ‘elaborate hoax’.  The National Post (…) said:

“A 1998 study that unleashed a major health scare by linking childhood autism to a triple vaccine was “an elaborate fraud,” the prestigious British Medical Journal ( BMJ) charged Thursday.

The study by now-disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield was blamed for a disastrous boycott of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in Britain, and even had reverberations stretching to Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.”

This is simply untrue. Dr Andrew Wakefield has never at any time linked the MMR vaccine to Autism.

Fact: Dr Andrew Wakefield did link Bowel Disease in children with Autism after they had received the MMR.

Therefore Dr Wakefield did not say that the MMR causes Autism.

Let us study a section of original Lancet report (

It is titled Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children.

Wakefield’s study begins:

Background We investigated a consecutive series of children with chronic enterocolitis and regressive developmental disorder.”

In the introduction he says:

“We saw several children who, after a period of apparent normality, lost acquired skills, including communication. They all had gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and bloating and, in some cases, food intolerance. We describe the clinical findings, and gastrointestinal features of these children.”

Wakefield says ‘apparent normality‘. He is not saying of ‘normality’ because he is taking this from the mouths of the parents and other physicians and not his own observation. This is shown later in the study. It is important to remember that Wakefield was not studying the Autism link but bowel disorder link. Wakefield was not and never has been an expert in Autism he was and is a Gastrointerologist.

In the section ‘findings’ he states:

Findings Onset of behavioural symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children, with measles infection in one child, and otitis media in another. All 12 children had intestinal abnormalities, ranging from lymphoid nodular hyperplasia to aphthoid ulceration.

Note he says  ‘associated by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination’. This is not Wakefield saying this but the parents.

Now here is where I believe the confusion lies:

“Interpretation We identified associated gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression in a group of previously normal children, which was generally associated in time with possible environmental triggers.”

Interpretation means that it is their interpretation of the results they found. This conclusion was made after speaking to the parents, and reading reports from health visitors, and general practitioners.

The study confirms:

all had been assessed professionally elsewhere, so these assessments were used as the basis for their behavioural diagnosis.”

Remember Wakefield was studying bowel disease not Autism.

For me, the most important part of this whole study says:

“In eight children, the onset of behavioural problems had been linked, either by the parents or by the child’s physician, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination. Five had had an early adverse reaction to immunisation (rash, fever, delirium; and, in three cases, convulsions). In these eight children the average interval from exposure to first behavioural symptoms was 6·3 days (range 1–14).”

This is very clearly stating that this link was made previously elsewhere and not by Wakefield.

It also clearly indicates that other professionals linked the MMR vaccine to Autism.

“Viral encephalitis can give rise to autistic disorders, particularly when it occurs early in life.15

Rubella virus is associated with autism and the combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (rather than monovalent measles vaccine) has also been implicated. Fudenberg16 noted that for 15 of 20 autistic children, the first symptoms developed within a week of vaccination. Gupta17 commented on the striking association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and the onset of behavioural symptoms in all the children that he had investigated for regressive autism. Measles virus18,19 and measles vaccination20 have both been implicated as risk factors for Crohn’s disease and persistent measles vaccine-strain virus infection has been found in children with autoimmune hepatitis.21

Wakefield also states the following:

“If there is a causal link between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and this syndrome, a rising incidence might be anticipated after the introduction of this vaccine in the UK in 1988. Published evidence is inadequate to show whether there is a change in incidence22 or a link with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.23

I feel that the word ‘if’ here is a very important factor. In fact the only definite statement I could find connecting the vaccination MMR to anything was made in the last paragraph.

We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immunisation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.”

I suggest reporters read crucial reports before joining in on bandwagon of lies being reported. Getting the facts is so important because lies breed lies, especially when this goes on to ruin the reputation of professionals. Before long no one knows what is correct which leads to total confusion.

Child Health Safety (…) reported yesterday that:

“The BMJ claim results were faked so Dr Wakefield could suggest a link between vaccines, autistic conditions and bowel disease in children.

National Autism Association argue that if the results were faked how is it that now:

  • US Government health officials have admitted vaccines [and not just the MMR vaccine] cause autistic conditions;
  • the US Federal Court has ordered substantial compensation for children whose autistic conditions were caused by vaccines;
  • papers published independently in mainstream leading medical journals confirm, just as Dr Wakefield found in 1998, that autistic children suffer serious bowel disease when their non autistic contemporaries do not.”

They report that Wendy Fournier of the US National Autism Association said:

Despite mounting scientific evidence worldwide confirming the presence of serious bowel disease in some children diagnosed with autism and evidence of a causal association with vaccines, health officials and medical professionals internationally continue to spin, deny and suppress the evidence,” said NAA president Wendy Fournier.  ”This latest attack by the UK medical profession through a journalist, who apparently has no source of income besides stories about Andrew Wakefield, is a continuing denial and failure to investigate either the contrary evidence that exists or the clinical histories of millions of children currently diagnosed with autism worldwide.”

And the Age of Autism (…) says:

“The link between MMR and autism/bowel disease was carefully couched as one of a number of hypotheses the paper reviewed. The MMR hypothesis had appeared in medical journals before. As the paper’s aim was to review possible environmental triggers for the association between autism and bowel disease, the authors were duty bound to record the accounts of the parents of eight children that the onset of autism followed MMR. However, the paper expressly stated We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described (p.164), and recommended further research into this possibility – a responsible and legitimate conclusion to reach.”

This can be clearly seen on the section of the paper that I have shown above.

The parents of the children in the original study have fully backed and supported Dr Wakefield to this day. They supplied statements to the GMC for the hearings.

Below The Child Health Safety Website (…) show news coverage of what Dr Wakefield had to say on the matter, they say:

Andrew Wakefield responds to allegations published in British Medical Journal [which it now turns out are yet another a rehash of journalist Brian Deer’s old work and not independent work of the BMJ].”

The site (…) shows the film of what Dr Wakefield says lays behind the truth of the GMC hearings. This film in Dr Wakefield’s own words:

The site says:

“During the General Medical Councils Fitness to Practice Hearing, Dr Andrew Wakefield was interviewed by Alan Golding and asked a series of questions covering the work at the Royal Free Hospital and the subsequent GMC case . The film has never been viewed by the public.

From today World Autism Awareness Day 2010, at 10.00am GMT, the film will be released over the internet in a series of clips in which Dr Wakefield provides detailed answers and the truth behind the GMC hearing.”

It is high time that the media stops blaming Dr Wakefield for the lack of parents taking up the MMR. This whole case has been designed to discredit Wakefield’s findings and use him as the scapegoat to cover up the truth. Thousands of parents worldwide link their children’s decent into Autism with the MMR and other vaccines.

Wakefield has always continued to promote single vaccines something that I actually do not agree with. This clearly shows the man is not anti vaccine. His only “crime” as far as I can determine, is that he carried out a research study where the hypothesis was proven and on this basis he recommended that more research should be carried out. Thousands of professionals do studies of this kind daily. The only difference between them and Wakefield is the fact that his research implicates the MMR vaccine.

About the author

Christina England, BA Hons