The vaccine-autism connection: a public health crisis caused by unethical medical practices and fraudulent science

Ann Pharmacother. 2011 Oct;45(10):1302-4. doi: 10.1345/aph.1Q318. Epub 2011 Sep 13.


In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist, described a new autism phenotype called the regressive autism-enterocolitis syndrome triggered by environmental factors such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination. The speculative vaccination-autism connection decreased parental confidence in public health vaccination programs and created a public health crisis in England and questions about vaccine safety in North America. After 10 years of controversy and investigation, Dr. Wakefield was found guilty of ethical, medical, and scientific misconduct in the publication of the autism paper. Additional studies showed that the data presented were fraudulent. The alleged autism-vaccine connection is, perhaps, the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Autistic Disorder / etiology*
  • Child
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Parents / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Professional Misconduct
  • Scientific Misconduct*
  • Treatment Refusal / psychology
  • Vaccines / adverse effects*


  • Vaccines