Journal: Report on autism was falsified

January 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Controversial research claiming a link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism has already been discredited, but now the researcher behind the study is accused of making up the data.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield made the link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and the development of autism. He claimed that after studying 12 children, eight showed behavioral symptoms 6.3 days after being vaccinated for MMR.

The report caused parents worldwide to stop vaccinating their children. Wakefield's theory was de-bunked in 2009. Now, the prominent British Medical Journal calls Wakefield's study an elaborate fraud.

"I think what Dr. Wakefield did was a moral crime, if not an actual crime," said Brian Deer from the British Medical Journal.

The journal claims Wakefield falsified data, saying some children got sick after the vaccination, when they really didn't.

"This was a clinical examination of children on the merits of their clinical problems by the best people in the world, the best clinical experts in pediatrics... in the world, and they came to the diagnosis, not me," said Wakefield.

Lisa Stalteri is the parent of an autistic child. Her son, Dante, showed signs of autism before he received any vaccinations. But this mother admits the Wakefield report did impact how she cared for her child.

"I delayed vaccines. I took multiple vaccines from him and I wouldn't have done that if I knew it was falsified," said Stalteri.

Doctors are also outraged by the possibility of being intentionally duped.

"What's happened is that children have suffered and have been hospitalized, and have died because of the false notion that vaccines cause autism," said Dr. Paul Offit, M.D., a infectious diseases specialist.

"It's disappointing, but I don't think it changes the picture significantly," said Diana Conti from Parca.

Conti works with autistic children. She knows parents who still believe there's a link between vaccinations and autism.

The journal also claims Wakefield was paid $750,000 by lawyers who planned to sue the makers of the measles vaccine.