In this week’s issue of Newsweek, reporter Sharon Begley tells the background story behind the vaccine-autism link scare and how bad science for years managed to derail efforts to investigate the true cause of autism. This article is a short introduction to the the longer and more detailed treatment of the topic in Paul Offit’s new book, Autism’s False Prophets. Describing the resulting lower vaccination rates, Begley says
The anti-vaccine campaign was having an effect. As parents postponed vaccinating their children, or refused vaccines entirely, children were suddenly catching preventable diseases, and some were dying. The number of measles cases in the United States reached 131 in 2008, the highest in decades. Last month five children in Minnesota became infected with Hib. Four developed serious complications; the fifth child died. Other parents, believing that yanking mercury out would cure a child’s autism, opted for chelation. Unfortunately, it can pull out vital metals such as iron and calcium as well as toxic mercury and lead.
You can watch a video of Paul Offit explaining the book here.