3 Feb 2010

Medical journal retracts MMR link to autism

10:18 pm on 3 February 2010

The medical journal which originally published now-discredited research linking autism and MMR has issued a full retraction of the paper.

The research caused an international backlash against vaccination.

The Lancet said it now accepted claims made by the researchers were "false".

In the paper in 1998, Dr Andrew Wakefield suggested the combined measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, shot might be linked to autism and bowel disease.

The BBC reports the publication led to a big fall in the number of vaccinations and a rise in cases of measles.

Last week, a disciplinary panel of Britain's General Medical Council ruled that the doctor had shown a callous disregard for the suffering of children and brought the medical profession into disrepute.

A New Zealand immunisation specialist is pleased The Lancet has retracted the controversial paper.

Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre at Auckland University, Nikki Turner, says the flawed research has been detrimental to immunisation rates.

Dr Turner says New Zealand parents still regularly refer to the study, even though it was discredited six years ago.