Study that linked autism to vaccines is reportedly fraudulent

LONDON (AP) - A new report finds that the first study to link a childhood vaccine to autism was based on doctored information about the children involved. The conclusions of the 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues had already been widely discredited. Still, the suggestion the MMR shot was connected to autism spooked parents worldwide and immunization rates for measles, mumps and rubella have never fully recovered. A new examination found, by comparing the reported diagnoses in the paper to hospital records, that Wakefield and colleagues altered facts about patients in their study. The analysis was conducted by British journalist Brian Deer. An editorial in Thursday's online edition of the medical journal BMJ calls Wakefield's study "an elaborate fraud."

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