As you may have heard on the news this morning, the British Medical Journal further discredited the research of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, an English doctor whose work attempts to link autism to vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella. Wakefield’s data and research practices have been questioned in the past, (he was barred from practicing medicine in the U.K. by the country’s General Medical Council in May) but two new articles from the BMJ go as far as to claim that his research was not only incorrect, but purposely falsified, possibly for financial gain.
Yesterday’s article and accompanying editorial will be the first in a series stating that Wakefield either misrepresented or altered information in his study of 12 children, whose autism he claims was linked to vaccination. According to the article’s author Brian Deer, the series will “expose the bogus data behind claims that launched a worldwide scare over the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, and reveals how the appearance of a link with autism was manufactured at a London medical school.”
Since 2004 Deer has been publishing stories discrediting Wakefield’s findings on the dangers of MMR vaccination, and now accuses the doctor of purposely submitting falsified data to prove his theories. A separate BMJ editorial written about Wakefield calls his work “an elaborate fraud.”
Polio. Scarlet fever. Typhoid. Today, this list does little more than conjure up old memories of iron lungs, crutches and maybe one sad velveteen rabbit. But less than a century ago, these words were enough to make most parents go white with dread.
Thanks to advancements in medicine and vaccination, these diseases have been all but eradicated. But as powerful as modern medicine has become, there are still holes in its defenses, as proven by a recent Californian outbreak of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, that is well on its way to being the most widespread outbreak the state has seen in 50 years. So far over 900 cases of pertussis have been confirmed, with a death toll of at least five, prompting state health officials to declare it an epidemic.
The sheer volume of whooping cough cases has many parents worried and wondering how a commonly contained disease like pertussis could experience such a powerful revival. …
A recent outbreak of measles in Vancouver, as well as newly released study on a 2008 outbreak in the San Diego area, are raising questions about intentionally unvaccinated children and the potential health threat and costs they could pose to the public.
Despite a lack of scientific evidence linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination to cases of autism, some parents fear vaccinations can lead to the disorder and opt not to have their children vaccinated.
“In general people underestimate the risk of the diseases that vaccines protect against, and overestimate the risks/side effects of the vaccines,” says Ronald Samuels, MD, MPH, assistant in medicine in General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston.“There are many people who believe that vaccines cause problems that are just not so.” …
A recent study published in Pediatrics shows that when given in small, graded doses, flu vaccines made from chicken embryos are safe for most children with egg allergies. The study also found that skin test done prior to vaccination, which in the past have been used to test a egg allergenic child’s potential for reaction, are unnecessary–saving time and money for both patients and vaccine providers. Erica Chung, MD, a Children’s hospital staffer and co-author of the study recently took time to explain her findings for Thrive.
From the 1918 “Spanish flu,” to the 1957 “Asian flu,” and more recently, the “swine flu,” the influenza virus continues to emerge as a major public health concern. But with the development of medical advancements like the influenza vaccine program, we have seen a drop in the number of hospitalization and clinic visits during influenza season. Because the vaccine is developed in chicken embryos, however, there is some hesitancy about vaccinating egg-allergic children, despite the vaccine’s many benefits. …