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Debate over autism and vaccines rages on despite researcher’s downfall

Philadelphia Inquirer, January 7, 2011
For years, experts have known that a 1998 paper linking childhood vaccines to autism was fatally flawed. British authorities even stripped the paper's primary author, Andrew J. Wakefield, of his permission to practice medicine. On Wednesday, BMJ, a British medical publisher, sharpened the criticism against Wakefield, painting him as having deliberately manipulated data. It called his work ?an elaborate fraud.? Many parents still rally to Wakefield's defense and believe that vaccines may cause autism. Will this most recent attack settle the matter? Unlikely, said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The issue is fueled by parents? search for answers about their children?s illness, he said. Satisfying them ?will take a firmer knowledge of the real cause or causes of autism,? which will take time.