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Monday, January 17, 2011

Andrew Wakefield - Autism/MMR Doctor, found guilty of misconduct

Posted today on another forum:

I am very sad that this has happened.
I read about Dr. Wakefield's research when it first came out and it was accepted then. That was back when Autism was considered quite rare. My son had been diagnosed about two years previously with Autism and there was hardly any information about it anywhere that I could find. I had to travel to another city to find anyone who knew anything about it, and I ended up enrolling my son in a research study to pay for his treatment because our insurance refused to cover Autism at all. At that time Autism was considered completely incurable and the only options offered to us were to keep him comfortable and try to last as long as we could before putting him into an institution.

Things have come a long way since then, and mostly because of parents, not Doctors. I got involved with parent groups who were trying to find some answers and these parents raised the money themselves to pay to have their Doctor flown to where research was being done and to bring back information that would possibly help their children.

I think that when Autism was thought of as some kind of orphan disease nobody seemed to care whether vaccinations had anything to do with it or not. Now that Autism is more prevalent, there are huge interests and lots more at stake and so the dialogue has become quite heated. Its scary to think that now Doctors are going to be afraid to question anything with regard to vaccination for fear that everything they do will be scoured for problems and their livelihoods will be at stake.

I am concerned that one of the largest groups that is raising money for Autism research is primarily focusing on the genetics. I am all for finding the genetic markers -- if it leads to successful treatments. However, this area is scary to me because I am thinking that then people will get their child tested before birth for Autism and use this evidence to abort the child, and if that is the main way of dealing with Autism, there will be little incentive to look for post-birth solutions. And this will mean that the true cause of Autism will remain hidden from us.

I am concerned that people will think that Autism is a type of genetic birth defect. Because even if there is a genetic predisposition to Autism, that doesn't mean that all children with the genetic markers will be certain to develop Autism. The reason I say this is that pre-1990, there were far fewer children with Autism. The genetic make-up of our children didn't suddenly become weaker in the 1990's. These children, born even one decade sooner, might have been normal, or maybe even a bit nerdy or shy or something, but not Autistic. They might have been the Steve Job's of their generation. But somehow this potential was stolen from them and I think that however this happened, we will never know unless brave people continue to look for causes outside of our genes as well as inside them.

For the complete discussion of this topic from the original forum, go to:

POF Forums, Science/philosophy Forum

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