A widely-cited British study claiming to show a link between the childhood MMR vaccine and autism has been shown to be "an elaborate fraud." The science wasn't just bad, it was made up.

A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an "elaborate fraud" that has done long-lasting damage to public health, a leading medical publication reported Wednesday.
An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study's author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was "no doubt" Wakefield was responsible.

I just had a kid a few months ago, and it's absolutely amazing how far and wide this toxic bullshit has spread. In getting ready to have the baby, we would run into friends and acquaintances who "weren't sure" or thought they should be "better safe than sorry," etc. Perfectly reasonable, well-educated, thoughtful people had started to question protecting their children from serious, deadly diseases based on the lies of this guy and others (I'm looking at you, Jenny McCarthy).

Vaccination rates dropped sharply in Britain after [the study's] publication, falling as low as 80% by 2004. Measles cases have gone up sharply in the ensuing years.

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Children are dying. Can we finally, please, put this matter to rest? There is not now, nor has there ever been, one single shred of evidence that vaccines cause autism. Tell your friends, and vaccinate your babies.

The BMJ has the full story of how the fraud was uncovered.