The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has announced that Dr. Andrew Wakefield's autism study is fraudulent. The controversial autism study said that the MMR vaccine is somehow linked to autism in children. Parents who heard about the autism study panicked and led to a sharp drop in the number of children who received the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine prevents measles, mumps, and rubella.
As a result, the Baltimore Sun reports that while MMR vaccinations dropped, the number of measles cases increased in the United States. In 2008, there were more measles cases reported than any other year since 1996. According to the CDC, more than 90% percent of the infected patients did not receive an MMR vaccine or their vaccination status was not known. In the U.K., vaccination rates fell almost as low as 80%.
The BMJ claims that key facts in the autism study were intentionally altered to support a link to autism with the MMR vaccine. According to NPR, the original study purported that 9 out of 12 children studied developed "regressive autism" after getting the MMR vaccine. However, a journalist found that only 1 of the 9 children claimed to have this autism clearly had it. 3 of the children had no form of autism. While the autism study claimed all of the children were normal prior to vaccination, it appears that 5 children had preexisting developmental problems.
As a result of these findings, the BMJ editor Dr. Fiona Godlee is quoted by Reuters as saying that the autism study "was based not on bad science but on a deliberate fraud." She and her colleagues at BMJ stated in an editorial that they hope that this declaration will encourage parents to vaccinate their children: "Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare."