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      Local health officials, parents sound off on autism research fraud

      A study linking childhood vaccines to autism is now retracted after a British journalist says Dr. Andrew Wakefield altered medical histories of patients

      A study linking childhood vaccines to autism is now retracted after a British journalist says Dr. Andrew Wakefield altered medical histories of patients used in his research.

      "I'm actually relieved that there's finally enough evidence to prove that particular research has been proven to be a fraud," says Katrina Wilburn-Beckhom, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who oversees an autism clinic.

      Many other health professionals agree, saying results from Wakefield's study couldn't be duplicated.

      "You're doing the research, you're setting up the study the exact same way, and you can't replicate the findings, then something is not quite right," says Dr. Jacqueline Grant, Southwest Health District Health Director.

      Wakefield's research specifically sites the MMR vaccine as a cause for autism.

      "As a result of this, some patients were actually afraid to vaccinate their children or delayed vaccination which has resulted in a decrease in herd immunity and now we are seeing new sources of outbreaks," says Dr. Grant.

      Diane Blocker, mother of an 8-year-old boy with autism, says she's remained neutral on Wakefield's research. She says she follows other studies, like those on genetics, more closely.

      "They're not looking at the vaccines because of all of the research and the studies that have been done," Blocker says.

      Since the vaccine-autism research was released in 1998, local health officials say parents with autistic children widely accepted the results. For this reason, Wilburn-Beckhom says it will take parents "a while to really accept that the research was a fraud."

      "If you have a parent that thinks that their child has autism that was caused by the vaccines, it's not going to matter what the reports say because that parent watched their child get sick and go through that process," says Blocker.

      But she says she's not looking for a cause.

      "My child has autism. We need to fix it. We need to be focusing on what can I do for my child now," she says.

      Blocker is also the director of the Albany Autism Center, guiding parents on how to best help their autistic children. For more information on the center, visit the following link or call 229-883-6288.

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