The Autistic Journalist

Using words to explain the mind

Correcting a 12-year-old mistake

with 2 comments

Photo by Steve Parsons, PA Wire

The medical journal The Lancet officially retracted the paper that initiated the vaccine-autism controversy after the General Medical Council’s decision that the controversy’s originator, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was dishonest with his proceedings. The retraction means the study will no longer appear in their own and other publications.

Lancet editor Richard Horton retracted the paper, published in 1998, after he read the GMC’s findings. People in the science and medicine communities called for its removal before Horton’s decision, but Horton said he lacked evidence until the GMC concluded its investigation Thursday. Horton explains that his journal did the best it could to validate the research by peer-reviewing it, but couldn’t devote the resources to examine every case record or visit every lab.

The Guardian‘s story then recaps the original story of the GMC’s findings regarding Wakefield’s study that led him to suggest MMR vaccines playing a role in developing autism in children.

The report will add further evidence that no link exists between autism and vaccinations that we know about, but its retraction still won’t repair the damage caused by not vaccinating children. The story is essentially a development that occurred once the GMC made its ruling on Wakefield. However, this update does signal a progression with autism’s biggest controversy of the present. Without any evidence to fall back on, the argument linking autism and vaccines will likely lose some footing. However, this also means another controversy will get an open door to enter. No studies have been conducted regarding the gluten-free autism “diet,” with all evidence coming from anecdotes, and there’s still a lot of questions regarding the prevalence of autism within the Somali community.

Ultimately, this story shows that most of us (yes, even autistic people) still have much to learn about autism and its causes. The GMC ruling will help cross one theory off the list…a REALLY LONG list.

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Written by TheSportsBrain

February 2, 2010 at 11:15 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I saw this, Mike. A very interesting story that I don’t think got near enough play in the media. This was huge.

    Jenna Langer

    February 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

  2. I didn’t realize that it was 12 years that Wakefield’s study had been published. It’s just unimaginable that The Lancet didn’t remove his study sooner, much sooner, as in when his co-authors recanted their findings.. Hmm..

    Martin Williams

    February 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm


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