Ten of the original 13 authors of a controversial 1998 medical report which implied a link between autism and the combined MMR vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella, have retracted the paper's interpretations.
The retraction will be printed in the 6 March issue of The Lancet, which published the original paper. One author could not be reached and two others, Peter Harvey and lead author Andrew Wakefield, refused to join the retraction.
"We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient," write the 10 authors in their retraction. "However, the possibility of such a link was raised and consequent events have had major implications for public health."
The original paper was based on a study of twelve children eight years after their vaccinations so information was based on what the parents remembered. The main author of the paper was being paid by lawyers who claimed their children had been harmed by the vaccines and four of the children from the lawsuit were part of the study.
Although the main author, Andrew Wakefield, suggested at the time that children receive three vaccinations instead of the combined one, many parents decided not to have their children vaccinated at all. On one side of the issue was a flawed study, on the other are known complications from measles, mumps, and rubella.
Measles causes ear infections in nearly one out of every 10 children who get it. As many as one out of 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, and about one child in every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis. (This is an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions, and can leave your child deaf or mentally retarded.) For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it. Measles can also make a pregnant woman have a miscarriage, give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby.
Complications of mumps include:
Meningitis, inflammation of the testicles or ovaries, inflammation of the pancreas and deafness (usually permanent).
Complications of rubella include:
Birth defects if acquired by a pregnant woman: deafness, cataracts, heart defects, mental retardation, and liver and spleen damage (at least a 20% chance of damage to the fetus if a woman is infected early in pregnancy).
Worldwide over 500 million MMR vaccinations have been given since 1970. Out of that many people there will be children who develop other illnesses. There will also be children who turn out to be prodogies in music, arts, sports, literature, science, or other areas. Neither result has been shown to have any relationship to the vaccine although I would argue that children who excel are able to do so, in part, because they were given an immunity to these diseases.Posted by marybeth at March 4, 2004 09:22 AM News