Have you heard the hype behind the claim that autism can be caused by vaccinations? According to an editorial released by the British Medical Journal, there is no truth to this claim. Turns out that claim was a result of a classic case of confirmation bias.
Dr.Andrew Wakefield, a former surgeon published research in 1998 which drew a connection between vaccines given to young children and autism. Reports say that Wakefield skewed patients' medical records in order to support his hypothesis that the commonly used measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine was causing autism and irritable bowl syndrome.
Wakefield gained financially from his findings, with most of his compensation coming from lawsuits filed against MMR vaccine manufacturers. He was hired by lawyers trying to sue these companies and according to British news reports he received over $750,000 dollars in compensation.
This false claim can be dangerous. Some people really took his findings seriously and have not given their kids any vaccinations. This puts their children at risk of getting sick with these dangerous diseases that could have been easily preventable with vaccinations. "The damage that occurred over those years as a result of these concerns--outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases and in some cases, deaths-- cannot be reversed," said Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, TX, and author of the "Expecting 411" book series. This kind of scandal is dangerous and detrimental to the integrity of science.