An article published in the journal Lancet nearly 12 years ago set the public health world on fire.  The article published by Wakefield and 12 other authors suggested that they had found a link between the MMR (measles mumps rubella) vaccine and autism and bowel disease.  Since that time, a great deal of research has been conducted and numerous articles have been written, but none found a link.  Nevertheless, the rumor has persisted in some circles that there is some kind of association- usually citing the 1998 Lancet article.

On Tuesday this week, the authors of The Lancet finally retracted the article that they published in 1998 from the public record, stating that should never have published the research because the study was seriously flawed.  In fact, 10 of Wakefield’s 13 co-authors renounced the study’s conclusions several years ago.  In addition, Britain’s General Medical Council ruled that the authors of the study had shown a “callous disregard” for the children used in his study and had even acted unethically.

Here’s the full retraction statement from The Lancet:

“Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation.  In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.”

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