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My campaign against dangerous misinformation in the world of vaccinations began almost 20 years ago, built on the publication in 1998 of a now-notorious and withdrawn paper in the medical journal the Lancet.
This paper, written by Andrew Wakefield, first raised the now-discredited possibility of a link between MMR and autism.
GP - Practice - Discussions - Parents - Vaccination
As a GP at a busy inner-London practice, I soon found myself having long discussions with worried parents who wanted to delay or refuse vaccination – or to opt for expensive, separate measles, mumps and rubella jabs offered by sleazy private clinics.
And I had reasons of my own for taking a particularly close interest in this debate.
Son - James - Course - Development - Regression
Our son James, born in 1992, had followed a course of apparently normal development before regression into autism at the age of 18 months – a common story for autistic children and also, wrongly, said to be typical of the children supposedly affected by MMR.
On digging out James’s baby clinic book, we discovered that he had the jab without any apparent adverse effects about four months before we first noticed the signs of what doctors call his ‘autistic withdrawal’.
Lancet - Paper - Wakefield - Co-authors - Causal
I carefully read the Lancet paper. Although Wakefield and his co-authors admitted that they ‘did not prove a causal relationship’ – my italics – between MMR and autism, it would be more accurate to say that they did not present any evidence of a causal relationship.
They simply reported that the parents of eight of the 12 children in the study believed there was such a link.
Four-stage - Mechanism - MMR - Autism - Bowel
What’s more, the four-stage mechanism through which MMR was supposed to produce both autism and inflammatory bowel disease seemed, to me, entirely speculative.
Putting all this together, I was swiftly unconvinced by the theory that the MMR jab had been a factor in causing autism in James or in any child. Other parents,...
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