The tale of how vaccines were brought into question as a cause of autism stretches back to the 1990s. In 1995, a cohort study was published in the Lancet by a group of British researchers finding that people who were infected with the measles-mumps-rubella ( MMR) vaccine were more likely than people who had not administered MMR to develop bowel disease.
Gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield, MD, was one of these researchers, who went beyond that to investigate the potential correlation between the vaccine and bowel disease by speculating that chronic vaccine virus infection triggered intestinal tissue damage, which in turn contributed to bowel disease and neuropsychiatric disease (autism in particular). Any studies have recently indicated that part of this theory is that vaccination is linked with autism.
Wakefield conducted a case series report in the Lancet in 1998, along with 12 co-authors, reporting that they find signs of measles virus in the digestive tracts of children who had shown autism symptoms after MMR vaccination in many of the 12 cases they examined. He proposed the suspension of the MMR combination vaccine in favour of single-antigen vaccines offered individually over time.
The probability of a correlation between MMR and autism was comprehensively investigated over the next twelve years. No reputable, valid research supported the results of Wakefield; instead, there was no correlation between MMR and bowel disease or MMR and autism in several well-designed trials.
The BMJ released a report by Brian Deer. Deer consulted with parents of children from the retracted study for this new report and found evidence that Wakefield perpetrated test deception by falsifying details regarding the circumstances of the children.
Deer noticed after reviewing the records for all twelve children that the claims made in the paper did not fit the numbers from the records of any of the following categories: children with regressive autism; children with non-specific colitis; or children with original signs within days of acquiring the MMR vaccine. The Lancet paper argued that six of the children had all three of these conditions; not a single child really did, according to the documents.
While scientists have long debunked the conclusions of Wakefield ‘s paper, the proof that the research itself has been falsified renders this study by the BMJ a seminal event in vaccine history. There is clear evidence that the initial thesis may not have been conducted because it was not only improperly performed, and moreover that it was a result of scientific fraud.