By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Vaccines are down, measles are up and resources have been diverted away from studies that could have actually led somewhere.

This was all started by so-called research that was all fraud.

It’s one thing for researchers to make mistakes, find mistakes and admit mistakes. It’s quite another to completely make up the data.

This is what has happened with the now-retracted British study from the prestigious journal Lancet that linked autism to the childhood measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. The study was a fraud.

“The British Medical Journal has come out with very strong language, saying that, using the word ‘fraud,’ which has really never been done before, although the study was discounted several times in the past five or six years,” says Dr. David Wolfson, a pediatrician at Children’s Community Pediatrics in Squirrel Hill.

An investigative journalism piece in the British Medical Journal shows the lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, stretched the facts about the 12 patients in the 1998 study to fit his claims.

This deliberate falsification of data has created fear and confusion and put public health in danger.

“The damage that has been caused by this ‘study’ has really been immeasurable,” Dr. Wolfson continues. “We are definitely seeing more parents who are fearful of vaccines. It’s hurt children, quite literally, by causing illness.”

Wakefield and other researchers have not been able to reproduce the findings. His co-authors withdrew their names in 2004 when they discovered he had been paid $674,000 to cook up a vaccine scare. The source of the money was a law firm intending to sue vaccine makers.

Despite all of this, there is still fear in the hearts of some parents.

“What we in the medical profession sometimes present are arguments from the brain, from the evidence, which doesn’t always overcome the arguments of the heart,” laments Dr. Wolfson.

In the U.S., more cases of measles were reported in 2008, the greatest number since the study came out. In nine out of 10 cases, the people infected were not vaccinated or the vaccine status was unknown.

Wakefield no longer has a medical license. He had been running the Thoughtful House for Children, a center for the study of autism in Austin, Texas, but he resigned last year.

For more information, visit these websites:

Centers For Disease Control: Vaccines
Immunization & Vaccine Information
Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia: Vaccine Education Center

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