16 Year Old ‘Vaccines Cause Autism’ Paper Withdrawn, Finally
Better late than never? Or too little too late? Those are different ways to look at a recent research paper retraction, says Retraction Watch.
Sixteen years after one of the most infamous retractions in science — the 1998 paper in The Lancet -- in which Dr. Andrew Wakefield and colleagues claimed there was a link between vaccines and autism, the journal Lab Medicine has retracted a related research paper, which relied heavily on Wakefield’s now-discredited study.
This newly retracted paper was written by Bernard Rimland and Woody McGinnis, of the Autism Research Institute, in San Diego, California.
The Rimland / McGinnis paper, citing more than 100 other papers, including Wakefield’s 1998 paper, established connections between “patterns” of autism and immune response, as well as the timing of the vaccines.
On October 8, 2018, Roger L. Bertholf, Ph.D., the editor in chief of Lab Medicine, and Pietro Ghezzi, Ph.D., neither of whom had anything to do with the acceptance or publication of this 2002 paper, wrote in an editorial announcing the change:
- [F]lawed studies that remain in the literature can be harmful when these studies are used by non-scientists to support conclusions that have long since been discredited by subsequent studies. We have learned that this is the case with an article by Rimland and McGinnis that was published in Lab Medicine in 2002.
- The paper proposed a mechanism linking vaccinations with autism, and its conclusions were substantially based on a 1998 paper by Wakefield, published in The Lancet, that first suggested this association.
- In 2010, after a thorough investigation, The Lancet withdrew the Wakefield paper, explaining that several elements of the study it reported had been determined to be incorrect.
Therefore, following the course taken by The Lancet in 2010, Lab Medicine has decided to withdraw the 2002 article by Rimland and McGinnis.
- …aware of the paper’s existence when I took over as Editor in Chief in 2012 but didn’t give any thought to retraction until I saw Dr. Ghezzi’s study, which revealed that the Rimland and McGinnis paper was prominently displayed in search engine result pages.
- This caused me some concern that the paper would be used to advance an anti-vaccine agenda.
- And I did not want the American Society for Clinical Pathology, which publishes Lab Medicine and is a leader in promoting global health, to be viewed as endorsing a paper on vaccination that has a false and potentially dangerous premise based on the flawed paper retracted by The Lancet.
On August 21, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the following, “The evidence is clear: thimerosal is not a toxin in vaccines, but merely a preservative, preventing contamination, that has been used in vaccines for decades.’
The CDC reiterates that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine protects people from diseases, such as:
- Measles causes fever, rash, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Complications can include ear infection, diarrhea, pneumonia, brain damage, and death.
- Mumps causes fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen salivary glands. Complications can include swelling of the testicles or ovaries, deafness, inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis/meningitis) and, rarely, death.
- Rubella, causes fever, sore throat, rash, headache, and red, itchy eyes. If a woman gets rubella while she is pregnant, she could have a miscarriage or her baby could be born with serious birth defects.
In summary, the CDC says ‘vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. Most people who get MMR vaccine do not have any serious problems with it.”
‘Getting the MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles, mumps or rubella,’ says the CDC.