Parent Groups in US and Britain Charge Governments Manipulated Study Data to Stop Further Research Into Vaccination and Autism

Washington, D.C. - -Parent child health advocacy groups in the US and Britain are charging that public health officials in governments of both countries manipulated research data in June 1999 in order to stifle further investigation into the association between the live virus MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine and the development of autism in some children. The parent groups are criticizing the conclusions of British government authors of a study published in the June 11 The Lancet and an accompanying statement, written by US government health officials, who are claiming that the small study lays to rest the possibility that MMR vaccination is a co-factor in the development of autism in some children.

The population-based, case-series analysis conducted in the North East Thames region of Britain revealed that the number of children diagnosed with typical and atypical autism has risen by 25 percent in Britain each year since the 1980’s, after the MMR vaccine was introduced into that country, and also found a significant clustering of parent-identified behavior changes in children within six months of MMR vaccination. Despite these two findings and the fact that the pre-selected medical records of only 498 children were included in the retrospective study, the study authors categorically stated that "our analyses do not support a causal association between MMR vaccine and autism. If such an association occurs, it is so rare that it could not be identified in this large regional sample."

Allergy Induced Autism (AIA), the largest and most influential parent advocacy group representing autistic children in Britain, labeled the study "fatally flawed and statistically inadequate" and called for the resignation of key members of the government Study Group and an independent study to be conducted. Rosemary Kessick, AIA President, said "The authors manipulated the results to ‘prove’ their own pre-existing hypothesis. They are prepared to place a skewed and feeble study into the public arena in an attempt to defend the MMR vaccination. AIA considers that any such attempt to justify health policy by using inadequate research as propaganda is reprehensible."

In a commentary, US Centers for Disease Control officials criticized the "media frenzy" in Britain when a study published in Gastroenterology in June 1999 concluded that children who catch measles and mumps disease within a year of each other have a six times greater risk of developing Crohn’s disease as adults, an incurable inflammatory bowel disorder that has become five times more common in young adults since the early 1970’s. A 1997 study published in The Lancet found an association between the receipt of the combined MMR live virus vaccine and the development of intestinal bowel dysfunction and autism. Dismissing the significance of persistent reports by parents that their previously healthy children are suffering intestinal bowel dysfunction and exhibiting autistic behaviors following MMR vaccination, the CDC commentary authors state "In most cases, autism represents a birth defect."

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), the largest and oldest parent vaccine safety advocacy group in North America representing parents of vaccine injured children, and Autism Research Institute, the largest and oldest organization representing autistic children in the US, are joining British parents in questioning the validity of the study. Barbara Loe Fisher, NVIC co-founder and president, said "It is clear that government health officials in both countries, who have conflicting responsibilities for licensing, monitoring and promoting vaccines, are attempting to prematurely shut down any legitimate scientific investigation into why bright, healthy children get vaccinated and then develop severe intestinal problems and autistic behaviors. This is not real science, it is pseudo-science and the public will not be fooled. We need to take funding for vaccine adverse event research out of the hands of government epidemiologists protecting existing policies and put it into the hands of real scientists who can get the job done."

Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., Director of the Autism Research Institute (ARI) and founder of the Autism Society of America, said "The enormous rate of increase in autism is very real and has catastrophic implications for society, not just for the children and their families. All suspected causes – and vaccinations are a prime suspect – must be objectively studied and not summarily dismissed by hastily concocted studies designed to prove vaccines safe. There can be no sacred cows too holy to be scrutinized."

Both the US and Britain have seen dramatic increases in the numbers of children diagnosed with autism in the past two decades. A report from the California Department of Developmental Services ( found that the number of young children diagnosed with autism has increased 273 percent between 1987 and 1998 while other developmental disorders showed only increases of 47 percent or less. A dramatic increase in autism cases began to occur in California after 1978, which coincides with the introduction of the combined MMR shot into the mandatory vaccination schedule in the U.S.. Previously, the live virus measles, mumps and rubella vaccines were given separately at different times during early childhood.

Founded in 1982, the National Vaccine Information Center ( has long been an advocate for congressional funding of independent basic science research into the biological mechanisms for vaccine-induced immune and neurological dysfunction in children. "There is an inherent conflict of interest when the same government officials promoting mandatory vaccine use are also in charge of investigating vaccine associated health problems. Without an oversight mechanism in place, the public and Congress can be misled by data primarily controlled and generated by government health officials anxious to defend existing policies," said Fisher.