Something rather strange is going on in autism research. Andrew Wakefield was smeared, his reputation trashed, his career torched, and his work labeled every negative thing conceivable—including fraud. The Lancet pulled his work off their site; they disappeared it. Everything conceivable was done to discredit Wakefield’s work and make it disappear.
So why are researchers who have disavowed Wakefield and his work, and who have stated that it isn’t replicable, now citing his papers extensively? The only thing they don’t do is use the initials M, M, and R in one breath.
The journal PLoS one has just published an article on autism and gastrointestinal disorders entitled, Impaired Carbohydrate Digestion and Transport and Mucosal Dysbiosis in the Intestines of Children with Autism and Gastrointestinal Disturbances. It discusses, as a fully accepted concept, that many autistic children suffer from severe gastrointestinal disorders. This is the arena in which Andrew Wakefield was working when he came afoul of the powers-that-be.
One of the claims made against him by Brian Deer, the point man in the attack against Wakefield, was that gastrointestinal disorders claimed by Wakefield didn’t exist. Here’s a quotation from a comment he made in the British Medical Journal just over a year ago:
I’m grateful for Susan E Davies’s response to my report on the wholesale changes in histopathology diagnoses which lay behind the now- retracted Wakefield et al “MMR” paper of February 1998, and the genesis of the expression “autistic enterocolitis” which, 12 years later, hasn’t been confirmed to exist as an entity. [Emphasis mine.]
Now, here is the beginning of the paper cited above:
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are defined by impairments in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors. In addition to these core deficits, previous reports indicate that the prevalence of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms ranges widely in individuals with ASD, from 9 to 91% in different study populations . Macroscopic and histological observations in ASD include findings of ileo-colonic lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, enterocolitis, gastritis, and esophagitis , , , , , .
Clearly, the authors of this paper leave no room for doubt about severe gastrointestinal disturbances being associated with autism. But it’s even more dramatic than that. Two of the seven citations in that text are of Wakefield’s work, and one of those, citation number 3, carries the earliest date. It’s the foundation of all the rest of the research. It’s the same paper that The Lancet pulled!
Now let’s take a look at the new paper’s authors. They are: Brent L. Williams, Mady Hornig, Timothy Buie, Margaret L. Bauman, Myunghee Cho Paik, Ivan Wick1, Ashlee Bennett, Omar Jabado, David L. Hirschberg, and W. Ian Lipkin.
W. Ian Lipkin is quoted in a 3 November 2008 Scientific American article in regard to a study in which he was the lead author. He stated, “We are confident that there is no link between [the measles vaccine] and autism.” He went further to urge parents to vaccinate their children with the measles vaccine.
Mady Hornig published a PLoS one study in 2008 that was supposed to be an attempt to duplicate Wakefield’s research. Hornig claimed that no correlation between MMR and autism was found, the measles virus was not found in the guts of autistic children with gastrointestinal complaints, and that Wakefield’s study was contradicted.
Margaret L. Bauman published a rebuttal of Wakefield’s research in Pediatrics. She stated that none of the classic symptoms of mercury poisoning are found in autistic children. Therefore, according to her, Wakefield’s research was wrong.
With the exception of Timothy Buie, the rest of the authors seem to be new to published research. Buie, though, is the sole author of this paper to have openly supported Wakefield’s work.
Obviously, Andrew Wakefield was right on target. His research was accurate and reliable. It was so reliable that it now stands as the basis of research into gut disturbances in autism.
The new paper takes research by Wakefield and others on gastrointestinal disturbances in autistic children further. They could not have done so if they hadn’t relied on Wakefield’s work, which appears to have formed the basis for the entire field of the association between autism and gastrointestinal problems.
Now, if only they could take that last step: Acknowledge that the rest of Wakefield’s work is also valid—acknowledge the connection he found between the MMR vaccine and autism. I wouldn’t, though, hold my breath. More than a dozen years have been allowed to elapse as the blinders stay on, allowing astronomical numbers of children to develop autism. Wakefield’s work can now be quietly accepted, with the exception of the most salient point: The finding of a possible connection between a vaccine and the development of autism.
Nothing can be allowed to stand in the way of Big Pharma’s vaccine profits, not the career of one prominent researcher, and not even the health and welfare of thousands of children.