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"The Lancet" Withdraws Paper Linking Vaccinations and Autism

"The Lancet,"is a well respected medical journal from Britain that publishes many scientific and medical breakthroughs, including the 1998 study that linked modern vaccinations against measles, mumps, and rubella, to autism. Dr. Andrew Wakefield studied and reported 12 children with chronic intestinal problems whose "normal development lapsed into severe mental regression." Wakefield concluded that the MMR vaccine may have caused an intestinal infection that damaged the children's brains, resulting in autism.

Last week, a medical misconduct panel found Wakefield and his research to be "dishonest", "irresponsible" and "contrary to the clinical interests of a child". The panel also concluded that funding for Wakefield's research was provided by lawyers whose clients were seeking lawsuits for damages caused by vaccines.

In the wake of the medical misconduct panel's findings and retraction of Wakefield's paper, an ensuing controversy is boiling worldwide. People from all walks of life, from celebrities to politicians and parents of children with autism, are stepping into the arena to voice their opinions. Spokesman for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Tom Skinner, deemed the retraction "significant." Richard Horton, Editor in Chief of "The Lancet," called the retraction a "damning indictment of Andrew Wakefield."

Supporters of Wakefield claim that the retraction will only secure Wakefield's credibility. Perhaps it is best to look elsewhere for answers to the causes of autism, rather than pinning the blame on vaccinations. Maybe the answers lie in funding research and programs to assist not only the children living with autism but also their families, rather than funding lawsuits.

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