Discuss as:

Do you believe there's a link between vaccines and autism?

UPDATE: We're asking Dr. Nancy Snyderman to answer questions about this story, so if you have any questions you'd like her to address, please put them in the comments. Thank you.

The study that first linked autism to vaccines was a fraud, a new report says.

The original British study of 12 children that blamed the MMR shot for autism has been widely discredited and was even retracted by the medical journal Lancet, where it was published. But still, parents searching for answers have continued to believe in a link between autism and vaccines -- a view pushed by such celebrity advocates as Jenny McCarthy.

The latest smack-down delves into the original British research:

The analysis, by British journalist Brian Deer, found that despite the claim in Wakefield's paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children's parents.

Will this be enough to convince anti-vax parents? Consider: The original, discredited study linking vaccines to autism involved 12 children. Meanwhile, a study of 2 million children in Finland showed no connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. A Boston University study of 3 million children in 2001 came to the same conclusion.

So, how did science lose this fight? One-quarter of parents believe some vaccines can cause autism, according to a study published last March. Why, in the face of all this evidence, does the autism-vaccine connection still exist in so many parents' minds?

No one could possibly blame the parent of an autistic child for wanting, desperately, to find a cause, and to find a cure. We have to respect their heartbreak and their determination to help their children. But with all the time and money spent chasing flawed research, have we missed opportunities to find the real cause? In this age of medical discovery, is not having an answer to a mystery like autism so terrible that we would rather cling to the wrong answer?

What do you think? Please vote, and share your thoughts in the comments. Is there a link between vaccines and autism?

(Posted by Rebecca Dube)