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NOTE: The mercury-based preservative thiomersal (which was formerly used in childhood vaccines) is known as 'thimerosal' in the USA.
In February 1998, the Lancet medical journal triggered a global scare with research claiming a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella triple vaccine and autism. The researchers' leader, Dr Andrew Wakefield called for the vaccine to be "suspended". Following a Sunday Times investigation by Brian Deer, researchers at Britain's Royal Free hospital retracted claims that had caused a worldwide scare by linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine with autism. (briandeer.com website)
Materials from a documentary investigation by Brian Deer for the UK's Channel 4 Television (first broadcast on 18th November 2004) "exposing the bizarre true story of British gut surgeon Andrew Wakefield and his strange crusade against a children's vaccine". (briandeer.com website)
"The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has found no link between autism and vaccination. In a stunning trio of decisions, Special Masters have concluded that no credible evidence exists that MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) or thimerosal-containing vaccines can combine to cause autism. The decisions completely debunked these notions and implied that doctors who base their treatments on them are unscientific and unethical. More than 5,000 families who claim that vaccines caused their children to become autistic are seeking compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). The decisions came in three cases selected to "test" how similar cases should be handled. One Special Master said "Sadly the petitioners in this litigation have been the victims of bad science conducted to support litigation rather than to advance medical and scientific understanding." Another said that the child's parents had been misled by doctors who were guilty of "gross medical misjudgment." Autism-Watch has posted key findings and links to the hearing transcripts and decisions." AutismWatch (13th February 2009)
"In 1998 Andrew Wakefield and others published a small study of only 12 subjects in the Lancet. This small study sparked a huge controversy — Wakefield used it to claim that the MMR (mumps measles and rubella) vaccine caused autism. As a result compliance with the MMR dropped from 92% in the UK down to 85%, and measles cases soared from only 58 cases in 1998 to 1,348 cases in 2008. Despite the fact that Wakefields paper has been thoroughly discredited, and subsequent studies showed convincingly that there is a lack of association between MMR or vaccines in general and autism, the controversy sparked by Wakefield continues…..Investigative journalist Brian Deer has been almost single-handedly responsible for digging up and exposing the sordid details of Wakefields dubious behavior…..Most of Wakefield's co-authors withdrew their names from the paper and the Lancet has issued a retraction. However, the damage to public perception had already been done." Article by Steven Novella MD, Neurologica Blog (9th February 2009)
"…according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): children are increasingly not being vaccinated against the highly contagious virus because of fears that ingredients in the injection may cause autism…..but new research by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health did not find a connection. "We are confident that there is no link between [the measles vaccine] and autism," says lead study author W. Ian Lipkin, an epidemiologist. The researchers hope their findings published in the journal PLoS ONE will put the issue to rest and persuade parents to vaccinate their children—a move that could stop measles and other previously controlled serious illnesses such as mumps and whooping cough from making comebacks." Article by Nikhil Swaminathan Scientific American (3rd November 2008)
"The number of measles cases in England and Wales jumped more than 30% last year to the highest level since records began in 1995. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) recorded 971 cases during the year — up from 740 in 2006. The agency issued a warning last summer urging parents to get their children immunised with the MMR jab. Experts have repeatedly stressed that public concerns about the safety of the jab have no foundation." BBC News report (22nd February 2008)
Dr Michael Fitzpatrick talks to the molecular biologist, Stephen Bustin, whose devastating testimony in a US court demolished the last shred of evidence against vaccines. Spiked Online (4th July 2007)
"The doctor who sparked the controversy over the safety of the MMR vaccine has dropped a two-year libel action against Channel 4, a fortnight after a high court judge ordered the disclosure of confidential documents to his opponents. Andrew Wakefield sued Channel 4 20-20 Productions and reporter Brian Deer over a November 2004 Dispatches programme MMR: What They Didn't Tell You." The Guardian (6th January 2007)
A critical look at Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who triggered the MMR scare that caused vaccination rates to fall across the UK resulting in the return of large numbers of measles and mumps cases. Includes a timeline of events. Orac at scienceblogs.com (January 2007)
"Andrew Wakefield, the former surgeon whose campaign linking the MMR vaccine with autism caused a collapse in immunisation rates, was paid more than £400,000 by lawyers trying to prove that the vaccine was unsafe… Critics this weekend voiced amazement at the sums, which they said created a clear conflict of interest and were the "financial engine" behind a worldwide alarm over the triple measles, mumps and rubella shot." Brian Deer, Timesonline (31st December 2006)
Concludes that the outbreak was caused by the importation of measles into a population of children whose parents had refused to have them vaccinated because of safety concerns about the vaccine. High vaccination levels in the surrounding community and low rates of vaccine failure averted an epidemic. The New England Journal of Medicine (3rd August 2006)
The findings of this study ruled out an association between pervasive developmental disorder and either high levels of ethylmercury exposure comparable with those experienced in the United States in the 1990s or 1- or 2-dose measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations. Pediatrics (1st July 2006)
"Andrew Wakefield, the doctor at the centre of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine controversy, was criticised by a high court judge last week for trying to silence critics by warning them that he was suing for libel while at the same time failing to progress the case. Mr Justice Eady said that he was quite satisfied that Dr Wakefield, who now works in Austin, Texas, "wished to extract whatever advantage he could from the existence of the proceedings while not wishing to progress them or to give the defendants an opportunity of meeting the claims."" News Extra, British Medical Journal (12th November 2005)
"Even after a Cochrane review found 'no credible evidence' of a link between MMR and autism, sections of the British media just won't let it die." Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, Spiked Health Online (11th November 2005)