The British medical journal, The Lancet, has retracted a controversial study from 1998 in which the author suggested a link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The lead researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, has been found guilty by the General Medical Council of dishonesty and ethics violations.

What are the specific violations?

Dr. Wakefield is accused of abusing his position and subjecting children to intrusive procedures that weren’t indicated.

There are also issues of conflict of interest where Wakefield received funding from the Legal Aid Board through a solicitor who hoped to mount a legal action against the manufacturer and that he had also filed a patent application for a new vaccine.

The General Medical Council had said that several parts of Wakefield’s paper are incorrect, in particular that the children in the study were “consecutively referred” that have been proven false.

The paper published in 1998 never found a definite link between autism and the vaccines; however Wakefield had suggested there was during a press conference in London.

What was the outcome of this study?

Many believe this study caused numerous people to not get their children vaccinated with the MMR vaccine and to this day is evidenced by measles cases and outbreaks occurring with more frequency.

Subsequent studies have shown no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Last year, the U.S. “vaccine court” rejected U.S. lawsuits claiming that there was a plausible link between the vaccine and autism.