Brian Deer's 'Wakefield Fraud' Report Is Full of Misrepresentations
Big Pharma must be utterly terrified of Wakefield's observations to have unleashed such utterly fraudulent claims of fraud against him. This is an analysis of just how misleading Deer's claims are.
by Heidi Stevenson
6 January 2011
Today, news has burst out all over the world with the claim that Dr. Andrew Wakefield's study, which finds a possible association in gastrointestinal disease, developmental regression, and the MMR vaccine, is a fraud. The source is the British Medical Journal and a report by Brian Deer that they're publishing. He claims to have compared the medical records of the 12 children studied and also to have recently interviewed parents of those children.
Naturally, the mainstream media (MSM) is reporting this uncritically. They're claiming that Wakefield's work, a Lancet report titled "Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children", was fraudulent. They kept repeating the BMJ's claims that it was intentional. Yet, none of them actually look at what Deer is saying. None of them seem willing to actually analyze Deer's diatribe.
If they did, the story would be turned upside down. Let's just start with the question of how a lay person obtained the children's files.
How Did Deer Get the Children's Files?
The MSM don't even comment on the incredibly suspicious implication that Deer was given the files of children that, by law, must be kept private. No reporter has a right to access those files. From Deer's own comments, it's obvious that the parents were unaware he had them. This is, of course, assuming he actually did. But, let's allow him the assumption of that claim's validity.
This is not the first time such criticism has been leveled. Either Deer has somehow obtained the records illegally, whether through stealing them or being given them by officials who must know that it's illegal, or he has fabricated the claims he's making.
The First Claim Deer Makes Is False.
The first claim Deer makes is:
The paper gave the impression that the authors had been scrupulous in documenting the patients' cases. "Children underwent gastroenterological, neurological, and developmental assessment and review of developmental records," it explained, specifying that Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV criteria were used for neuropsychiatric diagnoses.
The first part of the statement is true; Wakefield's paper does make that statement. However, Deer conflates that with the claim that it specified the use of the DSM IV. That statement is neither made nor implied anywhere in Dr. Wakefield's report. It is listed as a reference, but nothing more than that. Not even the diagnoses listed in Table 2 of Wakefield's report reference the DSM.
The very first specific claim that Deer made is false!
Claims That Problems Pre-existing Vaccination Weren't Noted
Deer makes a great deal of implications that Wakefield's study hid reports of children's problems before the vaccination suspected of resulting in regression. However, he seriously misrepresents Wakefield's study. First, it must be noted that Wakefield and his co-researchers did not make the claims of regression after vaccination. Wakefield's abbreviated Findings start with the sentence:
Onset of behavioural symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children, with measles infection in one child, and otitis media in another. [Emphasis mine.]
The parents made the claims of regression, not Dr. Wakefield, as Deer implies. Quite frankly, I do not believe that anyone other than the parents is likely to make an assessment of regression as accurately as they can. In this era when a doctor's ability to practice is on the line, what's the likelihood that a physician is going to focus on identifying regression shortly after giving a vaccination?
Claims that Wakefield Misdiagnosed Children
This is, on the surface, absurd. Wakefield never claimed to have made the children's diagnoses. They arrived in his office with their diagnoses.
Deer claims that Wakefield claimed that all the children had been diagnosed with "regressive autism". However, that is absolutely not true. Wakefield's report does not make that statement. In fact, the table that reports the diagnoses lists autism for 8 children and possibly for 1 other, with the optional diagnosis of disintegrative disorder for that child. The others were listed as 2 cases of post-vaccinial encephalitis (with a question mark) and 1 case of autistic spectrum disorder.
Deer uses a bit of sleight-of-hand to give the impression that Wakefield makes the claim that they were all regressively autistic. He does that by quoting him in a statement before a United States congressional committee:
Bear in mind that we are dealing with regressive autism in these children, not of classical autism where the child is not right from the beginning.
Deer has conflated the Lancet study with testimony before congress. This cannot be considered a legitimate complaint.
Examination of One Claim of Misrepresentation of a Child's Records Is False
Deer goes on offering details that sound good, but at this point, one must wonder if they truly are, and if they are, one must wonder if they're out of context. We'll look at one particular case, referenced as "child 8", the only girl in the study. Deer objects to these words describing the girl in Wakefield's report:
The only girl (child number eight) was noted to be a slow developer compared with her older sister. She was subsequently found to have coarctation of the aorta. After surgical repair of the aorta at the age of 14 months, she progressed rapidly, and learnt to talk. Speech was lost later.
Deer complains that Wakefield wasn't a pediatrician. He describes him like this:
He was a former trainee gastrointestinal surgeon with a non-clinical medical school contract.
"A former trainee gastrointestinal surgeon"? That's a problem? He was once a trainee? On reading through that quickly, it actually sounded kinda good, but on reflection it's obvious that Deer is trying to paint Wakefield as incompetent with that misleading word combination.
Deer then goes on to say that the girl's local consultants, who included a developmental paediatrician and a geneticist, stated that the aorta repair was done "side-by-side" with the delay and dysmorphism. Do you see any real issue here that conflicts with what Wakefield's report said? This is obviously a mountain-out-of-a-molehill complaint to this point.
Then, Deer said that the child's general practitioner wrote to Wakefield:
I would simply re-iterate . . . that both the hospital and members of the primary care team involved with [child 8] had significant concerns about her development some months before she had her MMR.
Let's put this together:
For all Deer's clever juxtapositions of quotations and his implication that Wakefield was something other than a highly respected gastroenterologist, careful examination shows that there's no truth to the implication that Wakefield's report conflicts with what the child's specialists and GP said.
There appears to be little truth to any of the claims that Deer uses to tar Dr. Wakefield. Close examination clearly demonstrates the use of conflation of unrelated information, implications that are not true, false claims of misdiagnosis, and careful presentation of data to give a false impression.
The utter depths to which Deer and his handlers have gone to destroy the reputation of a fine doctor and scientist are stunning. Wakefield's study has obviously scared the living daylights out of the vaccination industry. In the broad sense, there's only one legitimate interpretation: A corrupt system promotes a medical treatment for use on virtually every human being. This is done in spite of prima facie evidence documenting a connection between the MMR vaccine, gastrointestinal disorders, and autism.
They must be utterly terrified of the truth.
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