Lancet Retracts 1998 Study Linking MMR to Autism

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnellium/" target="_blank"> Dave Haygarth</a> (<a href="http://creativecommons.org/" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a>)


Venerable British medical journal Lancet retracted a 1998 study today linking the measles, mumps and rubella combination vaccine to autism, after the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have acted unethically.  A British medical panel said Wakefield had shown “callous disregard” for the subjects of his study and “the pain they might suffer.” 

The Wakefield study had been a lynchpin in the argument, popular among the mothers of Beverly Hills, Long Island and La Jolla, that routine childhood vaccination against deadly diseases caused autism in some children.  Lancet editor Richard Horton called it the “starting pistol” for MMR-Autism hysteria, which reached a fever pitch toward the middle of the last decade, even amidst massive outbreaks of measles—and more recently, mumps—in the UK, Western Europe, and parts of the US.  

Sadly, it’s too late to put the genie back in the bottle. With or without the jewel in their crown, those convinced that MMR will cause permanent damage to their children (more permanent than deafness, say, or death) are determined to remain convinced. As if we needed more proof, Dr. Wakefield currently practices in Austin, Texas. 

THANK YOU.

We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.