Study linking MMR vaccine to autism may be wrong, doctor standing by research

By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (IWS) - The debate on vaccines for children is heating up.

A British medical journal says a 1998 study linking MMR vaccines to autism was wrong, but the doctor behind the study says he's sticking by his research.

Now, parents are weighing in, including a mother who made the decision not to vaccinate based on that research. "We were scared," said Lisa Brown.

Children aren't born with a "what-to-do-if" manual so decisions are made every day and they are different for each child. Brown faced a decision on vaccinations six years ago when she had her oldest son, Jay. "My gut feeling was something wasn't right, and I didn't know for sure," Brown claimed.

She was alarmed by research suggesting a link between autism and the vaccine for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. Despite the concern, she had her son vaccinated at 18 months old, but months later she noticed a change. "When Jay was two and a half, I started to notice something was different about him," Brown explained.

A year later, Jay was diagnosed with autism. When her youngest son - Christian - was born, Brown decided not to have him vaccinated. But he is also autistic. "I let Christian's vaccinations go, and he's not severely autistic like his brother," she said, "He is high functioning. So, I'm happy with the decision that I made."

South Carolina Autism Society President & CEO Craig Stoxen said even though a 1998 study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield has been interpreted to link the Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine to autism, that's not the case. "We know from practical reasons that link isn't really there," stated Stoxen.

Stoxen said more research needs to be done on the causes of autism. "Saying that the study wasn't done appropriately doesn't really change where we are today in the research area," claimed Stoxen.

Brown said parents have a bigger concern. "There isn't enough research in general," she expressed.

Despite the research and the current debate, the suggestion on vaccines from the Autism Society remains the same. "Do it slowly, make sure your kids are healthy when they get vaccinations and don't take the multiple vaccinations at one time. Break them up," said Stoxen.

The man at the center of the autism study, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, has been stripped of his medical license. He maintains his research in the study is legitimate and says he's the subject of a smear campaign.

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