HEALTHWATCH: Disputed autism study sparks debate about vaccines

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — More than a decade after a British doctor linked vaccinations to autism in children, his study is being called a fraud.

Since Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s study was released in 1998, many parents have been convinced the measels, mumps and rubella vaccine could lead to autism. But that study may have done more harm than good.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, more cases of measles were reported in 2008 than any year since 1997. More than 90 percent of those infected had not been vaccinated, or their vaccination status was not known.

Holly Reiber is seven months pregnant. She said she has always believed in the benefits of vaccines, regardless of Wakefield’s study.

“The big picture is vaccinations prevent children and everyone from a whole range of diseases and illnesses,” Reiber said. “So that one tiny piece of information or someone’s opinion is not going to be enough to prevent me from getting my child vaccinated.”

A Wilmington pediatrician we spoke with says many parents believe that mercury in vaccines and a combination of several vaccines may also be corrolated with autism. She says that is completely false.

Dr. Susannah Aylesworth also says if you’ve avoided vaccinating your child but are now changing your mind, it’s not too late.

“We have families that come in, and their child’s about to start kindergarten, and they’ve realized, ‘OK. We’re ready to immunize.’ It’s never too late,” Dr. Aylesworth said.

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