Twelve years after Dr. Andrew Wakefield published his research in the international medical journal the Lancet purporting that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine may be linked to autism, the journal on Tuesday formally retracted the paper.
The action came less than a week after the U.K. General Medical Council's Fitness to Practice Panel concluded that Wakefield had provided false information in the report and acted with "callous disregard" for the children in the study. The council is now considering whether Wakefield is guilty of serious professional misconduct. A positive finding could cause him to lose his medical practice.
FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this online article stated that Dr. Andrew Wakefield practices in Austin, Texas; he does not practice medicine in the United States but conducts research here. It also stated that Wakefield said he couldn't recommend that parents have their children vaccinated; he instead advised that children receive the vaccinations against measles, mumps and rubella separately. The article and one of its headlines also stated that his paper said the vaccine causes autism. His paper suggested a possible link; it did not establish a cause.
Wakefield's study, conducted on only 12 children, concluded that there may be a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. He subsequently advised that children receive the vaccinations against each disease seperately.