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January 7th, 2011
09:12 AM ET

The mystery of autism

(CNN) - A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines is an "elaborate fraud," according to a medical journal - a charge the physician behind the study vigorously denies.

The British medical journal BMJ, which published the results of its investigation, concluded Dr. Andrew Wakefield misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study - and that there was "no doubt" Wakefield was responsible. The journalist who wrote the BMJ articles said Thursday he believes Wakefield should face criminal charges.

However, Wakefield said his work has been "grossly distorted." Speaking on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," he said Wednesday he is the target of "a ruthless, pragmatic attempt to crush any attempt to investigate valid vaccine safety concerns."

But what are the implications of this fraudulent study? Why are the number of autism cases still rising? Kiran Chetry talks with Alison Singer, Founder and President of the Autism Science Foundation, and Dr. Bradley Peterson, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

Filed under: Health
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Georgeann Suthers

    Scientists fear MMR link to autism

    New American research shows that there could be a link between the controversial MMR triple vaccine and autism and bowel disease in children.

    Read more:

    January 13, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  2. Georgeann Suthers


    Scientists fear MMR link to autism

    January 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  3. RC

    For the most part it is bartonella.

    January 8, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  4. And the winner is........

    I love (not really) how CNN has very obviously gone out of their way to tell exactly and precisely one side of this extremely imperative, crucial really, tale of how an epidemic has come to be. This entire series on autism and its causes as shown this week, starting with Anderson Cooper's crap interview, with Dr. Andrew Wakefield, has been the most vile, biased and bogus coverage on autism I've yet to see. And let me tell you, I've seen more than my share. As the parent of a child with ASD, I take pride in educating myself on his condition, leaving absolutely no stone unturned. CNN has done an outstanding of covering exactly one side of the autism peril, pharma's. Well done, CNN. I have no doubt your pharma dollars and advertising is safe and secure. Mark one up for corporate America!

    January 8, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  5. P. Clemens

    The parents of the children who were the subjects in the study - those parents have something to say about all of this:

    The letter which is being read was written and sent in 2008.

    Listen to the actual parents . . . what do they say?

    January 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  6. Maurine Meleck

    For the last couple of days we have heard report after report on CNN and everywhere else de-humanizing Dr. Andrew Wakefield. and debunking his work. It's amazing that people even call this journalism. Doesn't it bother anyone that we haven't really heard the other side of the story? Or that all 12 families in the original case study support Dr. Wakefield. and aren't being allowed to tell their stories. Doesn't it bother anyone that Anderson Cooper had so much hate right from the beginning of the interview against Wakefield that he never let him finish one sentence. It's just amazing to watch all these various media outlets fail like dominoes for Brian Deer's lies and nonsense without even giving him the hard questions. Honest journalisn`(except for a few good reporters) is dead in America. It puts quite a strain on our concept of democracy.
    Maurine Meleck, SC

    January 7, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  7. Sara D

    Lance 12 responds to Dr. Wakefield fraud. I can't help but wonder why the media outlets are not fact checking and taking the word of a journalist who has confidential medical records of these children.


    January 7, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  8. Birgit Calhoun

    Autism has many faces. Autism Spectrum Disorder is an assortment of disorders. First autism has to be defined a little more clearly. We all are a product of our genes. So saying that something is genetic is much too easy and belies the complexity of the issues behind these disorders. Who all is "we" who know that genetics cause autism?

    Here the so-called science is being discussed by a psychiatrist, a journalist, a physician and the media (The Sunday Times, CNN etc). I am fairly sure that Alison Singer does not have a sufficient background to judge what Dr. Wakefield's case report says. I have read it. It was a description of twelve cases. Nothing else. It was not a study. If it was as fraudulent and flawed as is being purported now, it should not have been accepted in the first place and kept acceptable for over ten years and only been retracted after too many parents of autistic children started looking at the subject.

    What was behind the retraction of the Wakefield paper? How can it be that a journalist brings down a doctor? Where are Brian Deer's qualifications? Why wasn't it a scientist who objected to the paper? As long as the media are stonewalling those questions the parents of autistic children are going to dig in their heels and wait for a better explanation than genetics. They will not just roll over and join the circus calling Andrew Wakefield a fraud and thus prevent further research regarding the most likely causes of autism: mercury, multi-valent vaccines, mercury dental fillings and other toxins.

    January 7, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  9. Name*Morgan Lammert

    Hi, I remember reading an article about excessive amounts of flouride can cause brain damage. Now today, there's an article in the AP about the US is using too much flouride in it's drinking system for dental health care & that an increasing amount has increased over a period of years. Now if I'm not mistaking, hasn't autism in children increased over the years. My question is, could this be relavant? It's just a thought!

    Thank you & I enjoy viewing every morning,

    Morgan Lammert

    January 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  10. Maureen Fischder

    Two words. Poul Thorsen. Look it up.

    January 7, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  11. Sara D

    Check out the VAERS Database

    Found 289 events where Vaccine is MMR and Patient Died

    January 7, 2011 at 9:35 am |