This week, we are running several posts about the UK General Medical Council Hearing. To learn more, click the Dr. Andrew Wakefield and UK/John Stone categories on Age of Autism . The following is an excerpt reprinted with permission from Autism File magazine.
By Andrew Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, FRCPath
On February 28, 1998, twelve colleagues and I published
a case series paper in The Lancet, a respected medical journal, as an “Early Report”1. The paper described the clinical findings in 12 children with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) occurring in association with a mildto-moderate inflammation of the large intestine (colitis). This was accompanied by swelling of the lymph glands in the intestinal lining (lymphoid nodular hyperplasia), predominantly in the last part of the small intestine (terminal ileum). Contemporaneously, parents of 9 children associated onset of symptoms with MMR exposure, 8 of which were reported in the original paper (see also Child PH’s story on following page). The significance of these findings has been overshadowed by misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and a concerted, systematic effort to discredit the work. This effort, and specifically the complaint of a freelance journalist and an intense political desire to subvert enquiry into issues of vaccine safety and legal redress for vaccine damage, culminated in the longest running and most expensive fitness to practice case ever to come before the United Kingdom’s medical regulator, the General Medical Council. At this point, the evidence is in and the outcome is awaited. Now, and only now, with all of the contemporaneous documentation available, is it timely to review both the original paper and its legacy.
From the late 1980s, my team at the Royal Free Medical School, the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study Group, published extensively on possible causes and mechanisms of inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn’s disease). This involved examination of a possible causal role for measles and measles vaccine. In May 1995, parents started contacting me with the story that their normally developing child had regressed into autism or an autism-like state, with onset in the majority of cases soon after MMR vaccine. At around the same time, the children had developed chronic gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms similar to those described by Dr. Lenny Gonzalez in the July 2009 edition of The Autism File2. Despite whatwere often debilitating intestinal symptoms, many indicative of abdominal pain, few of
these children had undergone physical examination, let alone been investigated. Mention of the MMR vaccine had often alienated parents further from their child’s health care providers. Many doctors attributed the onset of symptoms to coincidence and were content to leave it at that. Conversely, at the Royal Free a systematic plan of clinical care and research
was designed in order to help affected children.
Read the full article in .pdf format at Autism File HERE.