Wakefield Ruled Irresponsible, Unethical, and May Lose License

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Jan 292010

The General Medical Council has ruled that Dr. Wakefield “failed in his duties as a responsible consultant.”

Wakefield, for those who don’t remember, was the doctor who published a paper on possible connections between the MMR vaccine, inflamatory bowel disease, and autism. Although his paper admitted there was no definite link, Wakefield publicly recommended that parents refrain from getting the combined MMR vaccine because it increased their child’s risk of autism.

Immediately afterwards, the numbers of children getting vaccinated plummeted on both sides of the Atlantic, with a corresponding increase in measles.

His conclusion, and the basis for this entire uproar, was based on case studies of eight children. Eight children is hardly a significant percentage of the children receiving the vaccine.

He subjected the children to invasive tests that were not necessary, sometimes without the permission or knowledge of their parents. At his son’s birthday party he paid the visiting children £5 to let him take a sample of their blood.

Shortly before his paper was published, he filed a patent for a vaccine to treat measles and inflammatory bowel disease. Can you say conflict of interest?

Wakefield also received funding from a lawyer who was looking for evidence to sue the makers of the MMR vaccine on behalf of parents with autistic children. Nope, no conflict of interest there, either.

That the GMC has found Wakefield guilty of unapproved and unnecessary invasive tests, including spinal taps, on young children, is the most damning indictment possible. The findings of failure to declare financial interest are a secondary consideration.

Wakefield may lose his license, and deservedly so. I suppose it’s too much to hope that now Jenny McCarthy will shut the fuck up. Wingnuts have never let little things like objective fact cloud their opinions.

May 012009

Researchers find common genetic variations in autistic people:

The review showed that most autistic people examined have a genetic variation in a portion of their DNA that affects the way brain cells connect with one another. Scientists also reported a link between autism and small “mistakes” in another DNA segment involved with cell communication. Both reports add weight to the idea that autism is related to problems with the way brain cells connect.

This comes hard on the heels of news that Dr. Wakefield, who established a link between MMR vaccinations and autism, faked his results. Now we’ve got parents refusing to get their children vaccinated—leading to outbreaks of measles—and researchers trying to publicize actual facts getting death threats from rabid anti-vaxxers.

It’s genetic, people. The docs have suspected it since before Wakefield’s report in 1998, and now we’ve got DNA evidence. Really, wouldn’t you rather know what is actually causing autism, instead of blaming the wrong thing and doing more damage?