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Originally published Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 4:11 PM

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Discredited autism researcher's penalty is a shot in the arm for medical integrity

British medical authorities pulled the license of Andrew Wakefield, a doctor who stirred parental fears with unsubstantiated links between a common childhood vaccine and autism. Science is not on the side of those who frighten parents into not protecting their children.

THE long, sordid and destructive tale of Andrew Wakefield continues. The discredited British physician and autism researcher has been banned from practicing medicine in Britain.

One can hardly overstate the heartache and turmoil his unsubstantiated rants against the childhood vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella have caused. His sloppy work and loose talk raised fears about a link between the vaccine and autism. Wakefield frightened legions of parents away from rudimentary protection against entirely preventable illnesses.

Wakefield fled his practice in Britain in 2004 and landed at an alternative-medicine research center in Texas. He was still under investigation back home, and the lengthy review ended in January. The General Medical Council announced its decision on Monday.

Wakefield thrived by exploitation of the raw emotions of parents with children diagnosed with autism, and by inflating the fears of millions more who were worried about what might happen.

Parents crave information on which to make informed decisions for their infants and toddlers as vaccination cycles begin. Wakefield's reckless behavior continues to haunt concerned families.

Science is not on the side of the doctor or those who mouth his theories.

Wakefield is most thoroughly repudiated by generations of healthy children and their families who have not suffered the pain, inconvenience and expense of 14 childhood diseases prevented by timely immunizations.

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