Melinda De Chellis
16 October 2012
The Lancet: Exploitation of the MMR Vaccination
Fact or Fiction?
Medical phenomena are subject to questioning, leading to controversy based upon the adverse effects of medical treatments such as vaccinations that may lead to further ailment. Due to a study done in 1998 by The Lancet that published a correlation between the MMR vaccination and autism, a large debate has ensued. Based upon the principles of fear, parents have chosen to "protect" their children by not having them vaccinated. In an effort to make a stance on an issue that is based upon false principles, it is necessary to understand the study done by The Lancet, the purpose of the vaccination and criticisms to the study. With that said, it is clear that the correlation between the MMR vaccination and autism is completely false. The Lancet is a medical journal that features specialty journals in neurology, oncology, and infectious diseases. In 1998 this journal published an article detailing a study that examined the MMR vaccination and its relationship to autism. The article was titled; Illeal – Lymphoid – Nodular Hyperplasia, Non-Specific Colitis, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder in Children (Wakefield ,“The Lancet”). The lead author of this study is Dr. Andrew Wakefield. The study examined twelve children aged three to ten. Eleven of these subjects were males and one female. Each of these children underwent gastroenterological, neurological developmental assessment, and review of developmental records. Each of these children were referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist due to an onset of the loss of acquired skills such as communication. This was coupled with abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating and food intolerance. This study focused heavily on developmental assessment and the review of developmental findings (Wakefield, “The Lancet”). The findings denoted that either by parents or the child’s physician, the association of onset behavior symptoms was due to the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight out of the twelve children (Wakefield, The Lancet). Five children had an early adverse side effect on to the immunization such as rashes and fevers. In these eight children the average interval from exposure to first behavioral symptoms was 6-3 days. Parents were less clear about the timing of onset of abdominal symptoms because children were not toilet trained at the time or because behavioral features made children unable to communicate symptoms (Wakefield). Thus being, the MMR vaccination poses a viable correlation to autism (Wakefield, “The Lancet). According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development and communication skills” (U.S. National Library of Medicine). The direct cause of autism is unknown. Suspected possibilities are due in part to abnormal biological characteristic, diet, and according to The Lancet the MMR vaccination (U.S. National Library of Medicine). The purpose of the MMR vaccination is to aid individuals against measles, mumps and rubella. Introduced in 1971 it is referenced by Duke Health to be one of the safest and most effective vaccines (DukeHealth.org). The problem that The Lancet has exploited to denote a correlation between the MMR vaccination and autism is a small amount of mercury known as thimerosal that the vaccination injects. Thimerosal is a preservative in many vaccinations (DukeHealth.org). To refute this notation, a study done in Denmark and Sweden looked at the exposure of thimerosal and autism. StehrGreen et al. (2003) compared thimerosal exposure from vaccines with the prevalence of autism in children from Sweden and Denmark, where autism – like disorders started to increase in incidence between 1985 and 1989, a trend that accelerated in the early 1990s. This...
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