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"Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record."
The sentence above was written by the editors of the scientific journal The Lancet and published on February 2, 2010. The editors were referring to a 1998 paper that linked the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism. The 1998 paper caused many parents to fear vaccines and to stop vaccinating their children. Some celebrities jumped on the anti-vaccine bandwagon even though many scientists did not believe the original research because the paper had several serious methodological errors.
Since the publication of the 1998 paper, many studies have failed to find to a link between vaccines and autism. Major medical organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Institute of Medicine and American Medical Association agree that there is no relationship between vaccines and autism and emphasize the importance of vaccinations to protect public health.
The retraction of the 1998 paper and the failure to find a link between vaccines and autism should NOT stop research to find cures and the cause of autism. Careful science, however, is required to find the proper answers.
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Copyright © 1996-2010, Eric H. Chudler, University of Washington