You would think that articles published in reputable medical journals could be trusted.  Yes, we physicians are aware of the bias of researchers who are paid by pharmacy companies. These dudes produce favorable results for their sponsored company’s treatment in 80% of articles, which defies common sense.

For years a minority in the medical community has promoted the theory that autism may be caused by vaccination with the MMR vaccine. This vaccine protects against measles, german measles and pertussis. Numerous reputable studies have failed to confirm any relationship to vaccination.  It turns out that a pivotal 1978 article in which 12 children apparently developed autistic symptoms after receiving this vaccine was in fact fudged.  The English researcher,a Dr. Wakefield grossly distorted the facts of the childrens’ history, which cast the results in doubt.  Dr. Wakefield was subsequently stripped of his medical license.

The damage done by this article has been huge.  Thoiusands of children contracted measles, mumps and pertussis, some of whom died, as anxious parents clung to misguided beliefs that the vaccine caused autism.  Parents with autistic children suffered untold anxiety about whether their child’s autism could have been prevented, had they only not vaccinated their child against pertusssis.

Pediatricians were forced to spend valuable time trying to convince worried parents that in fact there is no vaccination link to autism.  Finally, the medical research community including their publications suffered a serious credibility gap: Look guys, we know you favor the pharmaceuticals when you take their money.  Can’t you at least try to conduct studies truthfully? To be fair however, it is very rare to have medical researchers participate and actively promote such bogus research.

I completely sympathize with parents, whose children are afflicted with autism. I understand the drive to find a cause and thus prevent others from suffering the same fate.  Yet at the same time, we must be on guard for the snake oil salesmen, whose lack of ethics and promised quick results may not in fact  reflect anything close to the truth.  And sorting out the truth among the the half-truths and lies is in my mind the best way to find a cure for autism. Neat heyday to become popularized academically over at the forum try this educational site.