Question: A friend of mine advised me not to give my baby the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine because of a link between it and autism. My nephew is autistic, and I don't want to do anything that might cause harm to my son. What advice can you give me on this difficult decision?
Answer: Rest assured that the vaccine is safe. The MMR vaccine will protect your son against three serious infectious diseases, and will not cause him to develop autism. The controversy came about as a result of a 1998 research study published in the prestigious British journal The Lancet citing a new syndrome of autism and an inflammatory bowel condition in 12 children who had recently received the MMR vaccine. It turned out that the entire study was fraudulent, with data falsified by its author, Andrew Wakefield. Closer examination of these 12 children indicated: (1) three of nine children did not have autism at all; (2) despite claims that all 12 children were previously normal, five had previously documented developmental concerns; (3) nine of the 12 children had essentially normal colon biopsy reports, which were later changed to "non-specific colitis"; (4) patients were reportedly recruited through anti-MMR campaigners, and the study itself was conceived and funded for planned litigation.