Andrew Wakefield’s many statements that MMR causes autism

8 May

One of the themes that has grown in the past couple of years that Andrew Wakefield never said MMR causes autism. Rather, the story goes, he was a cautious researcher who merely reported what parents told him and called for more research to be done.

Here is an example by Mr. Dan Olmsted of the Age of Autism blog:

That Early Report – which appeared in 1998 in the Lancet, Britain’s other leading medical journal – noted that in eight of the 12 children (including Thomas’s), parents linked the onset of symptoms to the MMR shot, and it called for more research to see if a link in fact existed. It said no link to the MMR was established by the simple case series report.

Despite that cautious approach, the report and its aftermath sparked a firestorm that, fueled by Deer, ultimately led to Wakefield losing his medical license and to the Lancet retracting the report. Yet thousands of parents continue to support Wakefield and describe the same sequence of shot and symptoms as parents in the original case series. Mainstream media, medical groups, public health officials and pharmaceutical companies say any link has been discredited.

For those who have actually followed the Wakefield/MMR story, the idea that Mr. Wakefield’s approach could be described as “cautious” is difficult to swallow. The idea that the “firestorm” was fueled by Mr. Deer is an odd assertion at the best. Mr. Wakefield’s now-retracted Lancet paper was published coincident with an anything-but-cautious press conference in February 1998. Mr. Deer started reporting in the story in February of 2004. But this is off topic. Mr. Wakefield is repeatedly cited as merely calling “for more research to see if a link existed”.

Mr. Olmsted is not the only one to use the “only called for more research” theme. Dr. Bob Sears, for example, stated:

1. Dr. Wakefield’s study never claimed there was a link between the MMR and autism – it only suggested a possible correlation between the MMR vaccine triggering intestinal inflammation which seems to occur in some children with autism. He basically called for MORE research to be done on this.

To be fair, the “only called for more research” theme goes back quite a way. Here is a news story from 2003.

The problem for Mr. Wakefield’s supporters is that Mr. Wakefield did not limit his discussion to the Lancet. As already noted, he held a press conference to announce his results and has made many more statements over the years. More to the point, Mr. Wakefield *did* say that the MMR causes autism.

Here is a collection of Mr. Wakefield’s statements which range from suggesting a possibility that the MMR causes autism to outright claiming that he “has shown” that the use of the MMR vaccine causes autism.

Mr. Wakefield’s patent application states clearly and unequivocally that the MMR vaccines has “been shown” to cause “pervasive developmental disorder”:

“It has now also been shown that use of the MMR vaccine (which is taken to include live attentuated measles vaccine virus, measles virus, mumps vaccine virus and rubella vaccine virus, and wild strains of the aforementioned viruses) results in ileal lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, chronic colitis and pervasive developmental disorder including autism (RBD), in some infants.”

And also

I have also found that regressive behavioral disorder (RBD) in children is associated with measles, mumps and rubella vaccination.

More examples include:

In the 1998 Lancet paper (now retracted), the MMR is referred to as one of the “the apparent precipitating events”

In sworn testimony in a congressional hearing Mr. Wakefield states that an “environmental insult” (previously discussed at length as vaccination) “in many children, clearly, the subset of autistics, it leads to gut infection and damage…”

So finally, in summary, we have an environmental insult in perhaps a genetically susceptible child. The problem is that if you go to Sweden now, autism affects over 1.2 percent of the pediatric population. So if there is a genetic background, it is clearly widely distributed within the population. We believe that in many children, clearly, the subset of autistics, it leads to gut infection and damage; that leads to an ingress, an impaired metabolism, degradation of these chemicals from the gut which then get through and impact upon the brain.

In the video for the press conference for his (now retracted) 1998 Lancet paper, Mr. Wakefield stated that the single (monovalent) vaccines are “safer than the polyvalent”. How can they be safer if there isn’t a proven link to autism?

My opinion, again, is that the monovalent, the single vaccines, measles, mumps and rubella, are likely in this context to be safer than the polyvalent vaccine.

and his feeling is that “the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine…”:

Again, this was very contentious and you would not get consensus from all members of the group on this, but that is my feeling, that the, the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.

From the Power of One Idea” rally, Washington DC, April 21, 2002. Mr. Wakefield informs the public that public health officials have failed and “Among the reasons for this failure is the fact that they are faced with the prospect that they themselves may be responsible for the epidemic”:

We are in the midst of an international epidemic. Those responsible for investigating and dealing with this epidemic have failed. Among the reasons for this failure is the fact that they are faced with the prospect that they themselves may be responsible for the epidemic.

Therefore, in their efforts to exonerate themselves they are an impediment to progress. I believe that public health officials know there is a problem; they are, however, willing to deny the problem and accept the loss of an unknown number of children on the basis that the success of public health policy – mandatory vaccination – by necessity involves sacrifice.

Neither I, nor my colleagues subscribe to the belief that any child is expendable. History has encountered and dealt with such beliefs.

You, the parent’s and children, are the source of the inspiration and strength for our endeavours; our quest for truth through science – a science that is compassionate, uncompromising and uncompromised.

I do not mean to stir you to mutiny, but be assured that armed with this science it is in your power to force this issue, in your pediatricians office, in Congress, in the Law Courts.

Keep faith with your instincts. They have served you well.

From a news story (Shame on officials who say MMR is safe) in 2001, Mr. Wakefield is quoted discussing how there are “long-term adverse reactions that I believe we are now seeing”.

Our new paper is not anti-vaccine. It is about the safest way in which to deliver these vaccines to children in order to protect them against acute infectious disease and against the long-term adverse reactions that I believe we are now seeing

From a BBC news program in 2002. The regression following MMR is referred to as “not a coincidence”:

WAKEFIELD: .. these children received not one dose but three doses of the MMR vaccine, and what we see in many of these children is a double hit phenomenon. They regress after the first dose and then they regress further after the second dose. This child did not receive his first MMR vaccine until he was 4 years 3 months of age. He then deteriorated into autism, a disintegrative disorder. He then received his second dose at 9 years of age and disintegrated catastrophically. He became incontinent of faeces and urine and he lost all his residual skills. This is not coincidence.

This is not to be considered an exhaustive list. I won’t be surprised if more quotes from Mr. Wakefield are in the media. But these should suffice: Mr. Wakefield has, repeatedly, stated that MMR causes autism.

90 Responses to “Andrew Wakefield’s many statements that MMR causes autism”

  1. MikeMa May 17, 2012 at 01:40 #

    Anti-vaxers like Miller hate when St Andy is shown for the fraud he was and is. Child health indeed.

  2. Science Mom May 17, 2012 at 03:05 #

    Unless we are missing something? The paper also addresses California between 1980 and 1994, so omitting all of the 1970s.

    Perhaps you should read the paper more thoroughly as the context was the large increase in ASD diagnoses occurred well after the licensure of MMR in 1971.

    Do you happen to have any other reference? Preferably one providing figures for the 1970s uptake of MMR I compared to single measles?

    Yes, most are in the form of bulletins sporadically on mouldy library shelves and not hard stats kept on MMR v. single jabs since the objective was to record overall measles coverage. However, a recommendation for the MMR age changed in 1976: which is obviously well before your (still) uncited claim of widespread use in 1984. And U.S. vaccine policy was for an exclusive MMR recommendation in 1977: and

    The paper cited also confirms the composition of the vaccine changed – again seemingly providing no source. So if one is to be scientific about this, assuming the authors have the dates correct [which does not seem to be possible to check from the paper cited] one in any event cannot compare the pre 1980 position with the post 1979 as the composition of the vaccines was different.

    And what is the relevance of that? A different rubella strain was replaced, not the addition of a completely different component. if you are going to raise a complaint about it, you should provide some explanation as to why. Oh right, that would be hard because you’re a lawyer and write for CHS.

    Additionally, we now know as confirmed by 1) Mercks’ current Director of Vaccines Division when Director of the CDC on national US broadcast TV 2) the US HRSA to CBS News 3)by the US DHHS experts in conceding the Hannah Poling case that is it not just the MMR vaccine which can cause and has caused autistic conditions. References found here:

    No, that’s your rather liberal and dishonest interpretation. Besides, why is Gerberding telling what you deem to be a truth to you when you and your comrades trash her otherwise? CHS is not a reference.

    So just as a side matter, the cited paper is confounded. It should of course look at all aspects of the various vaccine programmes and investigate all changes during the period 1980-1994.

    You don’t know what confounding is do you? Why does an attorney think that he can parse the scientific literature? The question was regarding MMR effect upon ASD prevalence, just at Wakefield’s hypothesis was MMR effect upon ASD aetiology. Were his results also confounded because he didn’t include all possible variables? No Cliffy, you don’t get to shift the goalposts because you don’t like the results.

  3. Chris May 17, 2012 at 04:24 #

    Wow! Thanks for the additional and well cited details Science Mom! Truthfully I was pulling information from the CDC Pink Book. Though previously I have used stuff from official US Census data (and Mr. Miller has yet to answer that question about the rate of measles incidence between 1960 and 1970 in the USA).

    All I can add is the link to where one can read the paper you cited for free (and it basically says that the increase in autism started long after MMR was commonly used): Time Trends in Autism and in MMR Immunization Coverage in California. It does say:

    The lack of correspondence between the trends in MMR coverage and numbers of autistic disorder cases does not support the hypothesis that increasingly widespread MMR immunization of young children is associated with the marked secular trend of increasing numbers of autism cases enrolled in the California Department of Developmental Services regional service center system.

  4. century May 17, 2012 at 09:22 #

    Sullivan spouted
    “Mr. Miller has gone from threats to accusing me of editing his comments”

    Maybe because YOU DO edit comments – you have done it to me in the past (and so did KL) and others!
    Not to mention deleting other comments.

  5. MikeMa May 17, 2012 at 10:51 #

    Paranoia much?

  6. ChildHealthSafety May 17, 2012 at 12:08 #

    To Matt Carey [Sullivan]

    Oh such joy Matt you bring.

    You have done it again and with such brazen bravado – editing out the main point of a posting – without even really caring that it is obvious.


    This is the edited version you posted:


    Can’t see what is missing? Let us help you then.

    This is what was submitted before you edited out the main point:

    < ChildHealthSafety May 17th, 2012 00:54:43

    Matt Carey [Sullivan May 16th, 2012 23:53:36]

    Thanks Matt,

    The point Chris was trying to make is that the . >


    So now we know why the 21st US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, appointed you to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee [even though it is really Tom Insel who makes the recommendation as the appointing politician, she is responsible for the appointment].

    And the justification for your appointment is priceless, especially the bit which says:



    Tom must be a great fan of yours. Here is an extract of your short bio from the IACC:

    Wondrous stuff Matt.

    Might you do something for the next IACC meeting? Ask Tom if they can be sure in all their meeting reports and publications to leave blank spaces and other indicia to show where they have deleted the bits of the evidence they find too embarrassing and cannot answer? That would be really really appreciated and a great step forward in US democratic transparency. After all, the US’ record on human rights is pretty abysmal eh Matt?

    Your example to your IACC colleagues from LBRB is just perfect. Maybe it should be submitted to Tom so he can see how the IACC should really do it? That could be a really good idea. You can then give them presentations on how it is done.

    What do you think Matt?

    Oh and maybe Science Mom should be the next appointment? In fact, sack the lot and put LBRB in charge. That would work really well.

    And in the light of the foregoing there really is no need to dwell on the other comments submitted which you do not post and have not posted. Nor is there any need to do so regarding the way you let your cronies pile in with comments as if nothing had been posted by way of response to you or them.

    So – have you and your LBRB colleagues got any more Gorskiesque bullying and abuse to throw? Let’s see it Matt. Let’s see what more you are really capable of so there can be no more mistaking it. You like dishing it out but you just can’t take it can you. Give us some more evidence. Don’t hold back now you are in full flow.

    Or are you just goint to take the ball away and run off home to your mom [Science Mom?] with your tail between his legs as you do all the time when you cannot meet the arguments.

    [And we are sure your Mr Miller will be delighted to be credited by you and your colleagues with the ChildHealthSafety website, which we have to say is quite superb [but we would].]

    Love it Matt. Just love it.

  7. Ren May 17, 2012 at 12:56 #

    @Mr. Miller and Century and other lurkers…

    It’s real easy. If you are so convinced that the administrator(s) of this blog edit your comments, then go comment at your own blogs or places of worship (like AoA). Then your comments can’t be edited and you can engage is as much ad hominem attacks as you see fit.

    There, I fixed it for you.

    On the other hand, if you feel like having an honest discussion on the matter, then quit the personal attacks, the “wondering” about conflicts of interest, and the paranoia about being “censored” or having your comments edited. Bring the facts and let the evidence speak for itself.

  8. Ren May 17, 2012 at 13:13 #

    One more thing…

    The level of hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me. You come here and accuse the author(s) of posts of having conflicts of interest, of being paid by Big Pharma, but I’m yet to see an advertisement for any drug. All I’ve read is that the cures and remedies that are not backed up by science don’t work, which is a reasonable conclusion. On the other hand, interventions that are backed up by science and evidence are supported and explained for the reader.

    Then I go to the blogs and web spaces of science deniers and vaccine refusers and see ad after ad for homeopathy, probiotics, and other remedies both in the form of actual ads and in the form of posts. All with little evidence to their effectiveness other than the random personal testimonial or obscure and unduplicated research article from a journal published online in a country in Eastern Europe or some such.

    This is why you people, meaning anti-vaxers, can’t be taken seriously and are at the receiving end of so much insolence. It’s because you cling on to your ideas even after you’re proven wrong. You think that we can’t scroll up and read your previous comments, or go to your blogs and websites and see what you’re all about. You assume that people will believe every conspiracy theory you throw at them. If it’s not mercury, it’s aluminum. If it’s not Al it’s squalene. When we tell you that squalene is in a ton of stuff besides vaccines, you say it’s the formaldehyde. When it is explained to you that your own liver makes formaldehyde in orders of magnitude to what is in vaccines, you then pull out a theory about an aborted fetus from the 1970s… And so on and on and on.

    This begs the question: WHAT IS YOUR ENDGAME? When will you be satisfied to the point that you stop trying to bring public health to its knees? When vaccines and other health interventions are 100% safe? Then why don’t you protest water, oxygen, fruits? They’re not 100% safe, have been known to cause life-threatening reactions, and even deaths.

    (Sorry for pontificating, Sully.)

  9. Science Mom May 17, 2012 at 13:33 #

    Perhaps this might help from the US CDC, which suggests MMR even by 1978 had not taken over from the single measles vaccine in the USA and that it was not until 1989 that the preference for MMR was expressed by the AAP. This also of course further confounds the paper cited by Science Mom. Nothing from Chris [yet].

    No it doesn’t suggest use of single measles vaccine; the eradication programme in 1978 was to increase measles vaccine coverage. You’re intentionally abusing the dictate. Furthermore, 1989 was the year that a second MMR was recommended to control measles not to express a preference; that was done more than a decade prior.

    Editing out the sense of a comment you cannot answer is interesting behaviour.

    Sullivan does not edit comments unless it’s a formatting or privacy issue.

    Not posting comments including one which provides the US CDC as a source confirming you and your colleagues here appear to be putting out completely incorrect information to pursue an agenda is also very interesting. And when that information is corrected you ensure that fact is suppressed.

    Do you know what a “colleague” is? Since when are commentors on a blog working partners? Our information is correct and sourced; yours is blatantly not. Nothing has been suppressed; that’s your paranoia and projection since that is what you and your mates as AoA do.

    Now, which US government committee is it you have been appointed to?

    Baiting or going for the shill gambit?

    Shouldn’t they have independent objective mature people on those committees who have high standards of conduct?

    You lecturing anyone on objectivity, maturity and high standards of conduct are truly farcical. Your whole website is a collection of hysterical, dishonest screeds.

    You have also helped demonstrate that at least one member of the US InterAgency Autism Coordinating Committee changes data.

    You are really mental. If this statement of yours isn’t desperation and deception then I don’t know what is.

  10. Andrew May 17, 2012 at 14:18 #

    “Now, which US government committee is it you have been appointed to?”

    At the urging of JB Handley, who described Matt as commenting “with remarkable insight and detail” and described Matt himself as “a father with a child with autism with remarkable ease at dissecting complex medical topics” Matt was appointed to the IACC.

  11. Tom May 17, 2012 at 15:54 #

    It really bugs the hell out of CHS that Sullivan was appointed to the IACC. Haters live such toxic lives.

  12. Science Mom May 17, 2012 at 16:47 #

    I have no idea what the IACC has to do with the topic at hand. Given CHS’s last inchoate rant, it’s obvious that not getting one of “their own” appointed really chaps their arses. Hey CHS, you collective of dolts, no one is interested in your vaccinesdidit rubbish any longer. Parents want and need guidance, support, services and real answers, not some mythical entity to blame.

  13. Windows 8 Key June 23, 2013 at 08:16 #

    i wanted to say here for The blog . really did it for me is all the interaction among posters at such good info you have.


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