The medical journal Lancet has fully retracted the flawed 1998 study that raised a link between MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination and autism in children. This study fueled incredible debate and was a driving force in the anti-vaccination movement, and subsequent declines in vaccination rates were a key reason for the resurgence of measles. It also fostered general anti-vaccination sentiment that has continued to affect decisions regarding vaccination of people and animals.
The study has come under fire for years and has been highly controversial, with strong opinions on both sides. In 2004, the journal issued a partial retraction based on a conflict of interest of Dr. Wakefield’s (the lead researcher), since it was revealed that he was being paid by lawyers acting for parents who believed their children had been harmed by MMR vaccination. The new full retraction goes much beyond this, and is based on problems that have been revealed with the scientific method, reporting of what was done, plus ethical issues pertaining to ethical committee approval.
The UK’s General Medical Council ruled last week that Dr. Wakefield had shown "callous disregard" for the children involved in the study and acted "dishonestly." He faces being stripped of the right to practice medicine in the UK. Accordingly, all of the findings of this study are considered invalid.
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