SAN DIEGO—For the second time in less than a year, another medical journal has panned a well-known autism paper by a british researcher. But those who support his work stand firm in their resolve that he did nothing wrong.
"I think when history judges Dr. Wakefield, he's going to be one of our most important scientists and he will be looked at in courageous terms," said Rebecca Estepp, mother of a son with autism. "Rather than in fraudulent terms."
The British Medical Journal this week denounced the 1998 paper by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, calling it a fraud. In his paper originally published in the Lancet, Wakefield linked the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine with symptoms associated with autism. In February 2010, the Lancet retracted Wakefield's work. The medical publication faced criticism from many in the medical field. At issue, questions about research methods, conflicts of interest and ethics breaches.
"Dr. Wakefield in a lot of ways saved my son from pain and has given him a brighter future," said Estepp. "I will always be indebted to Dr. Wakefield."
Estepp is so resolute in her support of the doctor, she said the author of the BMJ entitled, "Secrets of the MMR scare: How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed" is out to get Wakefield.
"He's made a career out of trying to take down Dr. Wakefield. I'm not sure exactly what's behind that. This is like a vendetta," she said.
Another mother of a son with autism said while this latest refutation of the paper is getting a lot of media attention, there is something far more important that is being overlooked.
"It didn't really change the position for people on either side of the vaccine debate," said Sharon Leon, exeutive director of the National Foundation for Autism Research. "But what it does and I feel is a real tragedy, is it's leaving parents of young children not really knowing what to do for the well being of their child."