A new study suggesting that decade-old data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides evidence of a link between autism and vaccines has been retracted amid concerns about its validity.
The paper published last month in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration concluded that African-American boys have a higher risk of autism if they receive the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine before age 2. The findings were based on a reanalysis of data from a 2004 CDC study.
The publication was accompanied by the release of a documentary-style video featuring Andrew Wakefield — whose since-debunked 1998 study first sparked concerns about a link between vaccines and autism — which includes allegations of fraud and a widespread cover-up by government scientists.
The video features recorded conversations between the author of the current study, Brian Hooker of Simpson University, and William Thompson of the CDC who worked on the initial study. In the video, Thompson is heard saying “we didn’t report significant findings.”
Now, however, the journal has withdrawn Hooker’s paper.
“This article has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. The journal and publisher believe that its continued availability may not be in the public interest,” reads a statement on the website for Translational Neurodegeneration.
The CDC is standing behind it initial study findings, which included information on the age of vaccination for kids with and without autism. Findings were not broken down by race because such information was not available for all study participants, the agency said.
“The data CDC collected for this study continue to be available for analysis by others,” the agency said in a statement. “Additional studies and a more recent rigorous review by the Institute of Medicine have found that MMR vaccine does not increase the risk of autism.”
For his part, Thompson said in a statement issued by his lawyer that he was unaware that Hooker was recording their conversations.
“I regret that my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics,” Thompson said. “I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race.”