Autism and MMR Vaccine: The Lancet

The medical journal The Lancet has recently retracted a controversial 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. Read news at ( http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/02/03/mmr-autism-scare-research-is-withdrawn-115875-22014944/ )

Wakefield’s small study of 12 children, led to an MMR-autism scare in parents who in turn did not vaccinate their children despite the fact that further researches failed in showing any link between vaccine and autism.

Several studies by leading scientists in different countries including American Academy of Pediatrics, Columbia University, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Center for Disease control (CDC) has concluded that there is no associations between MMR vaccines and autism.

The General Medical Council, (Britain) said that “there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper” and that his “conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible.”  Read more details on BBC News

After the council’s findings The Lancet has withdrawn the study and released this statement–

“It has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were ‘consecutively referred’ and that investigations were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.”

Retraction of paper doesn’t mean the end to “Autism and Vaccine conflict” as family of autistic kids are still scared of vaccines, and researchers are still at the basic stages of figuring out genetic and environmental factors contributing to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and novel medical and behavioral interventions.

What we need to do is focus our energy on more rigorous research, and early intervention.

Pediatricians and health care providers should value parent’s instinct and give   importance to their concern relating to their child’s development.

New born hearing screening is valuable tool and Child’s hearing and lead level should be checked on slightest doubt. Child should be refereed for developmental screening and further evaluation.

Treatment and educational approach should begin as early as possible and should be tailored for every child to meet his potential and needs in effective way.  Self help skills can be taught for greater independence to improve the quality of life.

What Parents Should Know About Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) Vaccine and Autism, find more autism facts on American Academy of Pediatrics.

(*** Image attributed to http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/2174921778/)

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