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Investigation: Link Between Vaccine, Autism Unfounded

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A groundbreaking study on Autism that linked the disorder to a vaccine for Measles, Mumps and Rubella is now being called a fraud.

The British Medical Journal said Dr. Andrew Wakefield falsified data and it is accusing him of serious professional misconduct.

An investigation by the BMJ found the children's behavior, parent interviews and even medical records didn't match what Dr. Wakefield reported in his study that was released in 1998.

The fallout has proven deadly for some children who didn't get vaccinated because of parents' concern about autism. And locally, doctors say they've seen an increase of kids getting sick because they didn't get vaccines.

When Joey and Jamie White heard the reports linking autism to vaccines, they wanted to make sure they did the right thing when it came to their twins -- Carson and Keira.

"We have plenty of friends that are anti-vaccine or limited-vaccine, so it was something we felt like we needed to really think about and do our own research on," Jamie White said.

Patsy Stinchfield is the head of the infectious disease department at Children's Hospital. She said the study really made people think twice about all vaccines.

"This whole Wakefield study has not only impacted people's interest or not interest in Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccines but all vaccines," she said. "If we let our guard down with vaccines, these diseases will come back."

Kids with autism often have trouble with communication, interaction and touch and doctors don't know what causes the condition.

"Autism is so unexplained," Stinchfield said. "We want to find an answer but we need to find the right answer, and vaccines are not the right answer."

Still, it's tough not to question what's best for your kids, Jamie White said.

"I think every parent has concerns. What if my kid becomes autistic? Every parent thinks the 'what if's,'" she said.

But when it came down to it, the Whites decided to vaccinate the twins.

"Yep, they've received all their vaccinations," she said. "We'd rather take the risk that our children would have a reaction from the vaccine, than they would get a terrible disease from not being vaccinated."

Since they got vaccines, the White twins have been doing fine. And here in Minnesota, the majority of parents are choosing to vaccinate.

Doctors say that will help keep our population healthier.

Joan Gilbertson, Producer
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WCCO-TV's Amelia Santaniello Reports

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