Photo courtesy of The New York Times
Facing a tidal wave of criticism over its plan to show a documentary about the now-disproven link between vaccines and autism, the Tribeca Film Festival (co-founded by Robert De Niro) has decided not to show the film. In his recent blog, one of our Westchester Health Pediatrics pediatricians, Rodd Stein, MD, FAAP, explains why he thinks this was the right thing to do.
A widely-debunked study linking vaccines to autism
When Andrew Wakefield published his study in The Lancet in 1998 proposing a hypothetical link between the MMR vaccine and autism — a fraudulent piece of research that has since been thoroughly debunked — it was met with skepticism and also, unfortunately, panic. Most damaging, the rates of completion of the MMR vaccine series fell (most dramatically in England where the study was published), and subsequently outbreaks of measles increased and several children died. Yes, children actually died because of Wakefield’s bogus study. I also want to mention that Wakefield’s medical license was revoked over his failure to disclose financial conflicts of interest and ethics violations.
Equally important as the impediments on controlling infectious disease that this anti-vaccine paper set in motion has been the energy, time, focus and money that have been diverted away from efforts to understand the real causes of autism and how to help children and families who live with it.
It was later uncovered that Mr. Wakefield falsified data
In the years since Wakefield’s 1998 study (retracted in 2010), multiple large studies conducted in several institutions all over the world involving millions of children have not supported his hypothesis, and no scientific organization anywhere agrees with it, including the CDC, AAP, WHO, IOM, and ACIP,,.
To read Dr. Stein’s blog in full, click here.
 Pediatrics. 2014 Aug;134(2):325-37. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-1079. Epub 2014 Jul 1.
 Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines; Institute of Medicine; Stratton K, Ford A, Rusch E, Clayton EW, editors.SourceWashington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011 Aug.
 Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Feb 15;2:CD004407. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004407.pub3.