In 1998, Andrew Wakefield and 12 of his colleagues published a case series in the Lancet, which suggested that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine may predispose to behavioral regression and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Despite the small sample size (number of patients=12), the uncontrolled design, and the speculative nature of the conclusions, the paper received wide publicity, and MMR vaccination rates began to drop because parents were concerned about the risk of autism after vaccination. (access full article by clicking here).
The journal retracted the study after the medical council in London concluded that Dr. Wakefield had been dishonest and that he had violated ethical rules. Wakefield’s research and public statements caused widespread alarm that a common childhood vaccine could cause autism and he was banned from practicing medicine in his native Britain for ethical lapses, including conducting invasive medical procedures on children that they did not need.