In 1998, Andrew Wakefield, a British doctor and medical researcher stated with other professional scientists, that there is a relationship between Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism and bowel disease by publishing a plenty of studies named as Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia non-specific colts and pervasive developmental disorder in children (Wakefield et al 1998). Overall, they failed to show the evidence of the connection between MMR vaccine and the development of autism. Moreover, Dr. Wakefield report had a massive impact on children health due to the serious diseases that the vaccine showed, parents were terrified about the risks of autism after the vaccination. As a result, the report was retracted from lancet 2010.
Measles, mumps and, rubella (MMR) vaccine is an immunization vaccine against the MMR. It is a combination of the three disease which is given in a single injection (Nhs.uk, 2016). The vaccine injected two times to children, the first time was after their first birthday and the other one was between 3 to 5 years old. Because of this, measles deaths declined around less than 80% from 2000 to 2015 which makes the three disease (Measles Mumps and Rubella) are no longer threaten the world. Dr. Wakefield, in 1998 indicated that MMR vaccine leads to autism connecting with bowel disease. He chose 12 children who were suffering from autism and other diseases such as development disorder. Also, he stated that parents notice the signs in a short period after the vaccine.
The report has some positive sides, for instance, the studies and the investigations were authorized ethically by the Royal Free Hospital NHS trust. Dr. Wakefield got the parents authorization by signing the informed paper to test their children. In addition to this, the General Medical Council (GMC) proved it. Wakefield also used the scientific structure in his research which has been divided into 4 parts (introduction, methods, result, and discussion). Furthermore, Wakefield included data and tables in his research as well as images and biopsy samples to emphasize the facts and showing it in a higher quality picture. He also used more than 20 reliable references to prove his research such as University of Durham, Lancet. Besides this, the 12 children were anonymous and the 13 doctors used scientific words in their research.
On the other hand, Wakefield research has lots and lots of mistakes and errors. The most remarkable one is using a small population to accomplish this study by basing it on only 12 children 11 boys and 1 girl as if you want a reliable investigation you need to have more patients who are in the same age and having equal gender. And there was no control group because of the consecutive selection of the children, he didn’t provide a baseline of data to compare it with the result and this cause increase in the chances of errors and bias (Rao and Andrade, 2011). Also according to the General Medical Council (GMC), Wakefield was the only one who wrote the last version of the research under the use of authors names and reputations, as they appear to have been having no knowledge of what he was doing (Godlee, Smith and Marcovitch, 2016). Furthermore, Wakefield focused on children who suffer from gastroenterological and other disease and neglected children who have only autism. He also based his study on children who have autism and other disorders disease and forgot about other children who don’t have autism. Moreover, he did a more unnecessary test, for example, lleocolonoscopy and biopsy sampling, lumbar puncture, electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) without their permission and approval also he tried to give the children new vaccine without telling the parent. In addition, the parents might give faulty information about the abnormal attitude of their children as they say their children were not communicated so that makes his theories based on parent remembrance. Following that he did not pay attention if there were other cases in the families of the children which might make it a genetic disease. Even though his research approved, many rules were broken. Finally, this report spread fear in parents and has lots of impact on children medical health, and it has been attracted in the media, which make Wakefield clarify the facts.
Impact on public health and incidence of autism:
When Andrew Wakefield published his research and illustrated that the MMR vaccine causes autism without showing any evidence, parents were concerned about it, so they stopped vaccinating their children. Therefore, the average of MMR vaccine decreased and because of that many deaths and measles cases were caused. Due to Wakefield allegation, too many countries such as Ireland, The US, and Britain suffered from measles outbreaks, for example, Ireland recorded 3 deaths, more than 300 cases and 100 patients under hospital care (New England Journal of Medicine, 2016). This would have been avoided if Wakefield did not publish his study. Furthermore, the General Medical Council established that Dr. Wakefield’s research was fraudulent (Jardine, 2016). Although a lot of scientists from all over the world did plenty of epidemiological studies which prove that there is no connection between the MMR vaccine and autism there are parents who still concerned about vaccinating their children.
To conclude Wakefield and his 12 colleagues were trying to prove that there is a link between MMR vaccine and autism. However, this study was based on incomplete and unreliable data in his research. Even though the study retracted 12 years later, further studies proved that there is no like between MMR vaccine and autism. Moreover, the research led to raised national awareness on increasing research quality and standards. The negative points overweight the positive points based on the evidence.
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2- Godlee,F., Smith,J. and Marcovitch, H. (2011). Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent. BMJ, 342(jan05 1), pp.c7452-c7452.
3- Gorski, D. (2016). Antivaccine hero Andrew Wakefield: Scientific fraud? « Science-Based Medicine. online Sciencebasedmedicine.org. Available at: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/antivaccine-hero-andrew-wakefield-scientific-fraud/ Accessed 5 Dec. 2016.
4- Gov.uk. (2016). Measles deaths – Publications – GOV.UK. online Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/measles-deaths-by-age-group-from-1980-to-2013-ons-data Accessed 23 Nov. 2016.
5- Jardine, C. (2016). GMC brands Dr Andrew Wakefield ‘dishonest, irresponsible and callous’. online Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/7095145/GMC-brands-Dr-Andrew-Wakefield-dishonest-irresponsible-and-callous.html Accessed 24 Nov. 2016.
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7- Nhs.uk. (2016). About the MMR vaccine – Vaccinations – NHS Choices. online Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/mmr-vaccine.aspx Accessed 23 Nov. 2016.
8- Poison.org. (2016). Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism. online Available at: http://www.poison.org/articles/2010-oct/vaccines-do-not-cause-autism Accessed 23 Nov. 2016.
9- Sathyanarayana Rao, T. and Andrade, C. (2016). The MMR vaccine and autism: Sensation, refutation, retraction, and fraud. NCBI
10-Taylor, B., Jick, H and MacLaughlin, D. (2013) Prevalence and incidence rates of autism in the UK: time trend from 2004-2010 in children aged 8 years. BMJ Open, v. 3(10), pp. e003219-e003220
11-Telegraph.co.uk. (2016). MMR vaccination rate down for first time in eight years. online Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11884544/MMR- vaccination-rate-down-for-first-time-in-eight-years.html Accessed 24 Nov. 2016
12-Wakefield,A., Murch,S., Anthony,A., Linnell,J., Casson,D., Malik,M., Berelowitz,M., Dhillon,A., Thomson,M., Harvey,P., Valentine,A., Davies,S., and Walker-Smith,J.(1998). RETRACTED: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. The Lancet, 351(9103),pp.637-641
13-World Health Organization. (2016). Measles. online Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/ Accessed 25 Nov. 2016.