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Controversial study linking vaccines to autism called a fraud

The now infamous 1998 article that first linked the MMR vaccine to autism was not just incorrect, it was based on falsified evidence, according to a new article published in the medical journal BMJ.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield's study set off a global panic about the safety of a common childhood vaccine and today the emotional debate over the causes of the complex disorder rages on.

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The new BMJ evidence comes a year after the medical journal Lancet retracted the original paper. And last May, Wakefield was stripped of his license to practice medicine.

Last year's news was just the latest in a series of mounting evidence from the Institute of Medicine and others that found no link between the combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism. Nevertheless, many parents continue to cling to the possibility that the vaccine is unsafe. As a result, vaccination rates have dropped and measles cases surged. In 2008, more measles cases were reported in United States than any year since 1996, the CDC found.

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The new BMJ report by British journalist Brian Deer interviewed families of the 12 children in the original study concluding that Wakefield misrepresented or falsified the experiences of the kids in the study.

Wakefield is still defending his research and on CNN called Deer a "hit man" trying to take him down.

Could this be the end of the vaccine-autism controversy? I asked that a year ago, when Wakefield's paper was retracted. But perhaps this ends it for good? What say you?

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