Wakefield's findings confirmedIn 1998 Dr Andrew Wakefield and 12 other researchers published a paper describing 12 children with (primarily autistic spectrum) developmental disorders and bowel symptoms such as diarrhoea and abdominal pain. They found a new type of inflammation in the gut that they described as ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia (ILNH). This was a condition that had never before been described and Dr Wakefield and his colleagues were hopeful that their discovery would lead to more greater success in treating autistic children with bowel problems. They made one huge 'mistake' (at least as far as some of the authors' careers have ben concerned) and that was to suggest that the children's symptoms - both gastroenterological and developmental - may have been caused by the MMR vaccine. This important piece of research has now been 'retracted' by the Lancet, the journal that published the original paper.
Since then Dr Wakefield has been vilified by the medical establishment and, as I write this, is likely to be struck off the medical register.
However, research has continued and other researchers have confirmed Wakefield's findings of ILNH in the bowel of autistic children.
Now another important paper has been published by Dr Arthur Krigsman, a gastroenterologist from New York. He investigated 143 patients (nearly all children), of whom the vast majority suffered from autism in addition to bowel symptoms. Nearly three quarters (73%) were found to have ILNH when examined by Dr Krigsman. This confirms the findings of Wakefield's original research and confirms the association between autism and bowel disease in some children. It does not attempt to address the cause - it would seem that any doctor who suggests vaccines as a possible contributing factor risks being struck off - but further research is being done by others to help ascertain whether vaccines, including the MMR, could be contributing. It is important that this research continues.
Added 16 March 2010