Andrew Wakefield faked autism study but told Somalis there's hope

Wakefield was invited to Minneapolis by Somalis families.
Wakefield was invited to Minneapolis by Somalis families.

The now disgraced British doctor who scared the world with his theory linking childhood vaccines with autism, recently spread his debunked theories to Somali families in Minneapolis.

Andrew Wakefield's 1994 research paper has just been declared a "deliberate fraud" by the British Medical Journal.

The journal had previously withdrawn the paper on suspicions that it wasn't accurate.

A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross.

Wakefiled is a hero to some parents of autistic kids, including Hollywood stars like Jenny McCarthy Jim Carrey. After his research was first discredited, they claimed he'd been mistreated by a kangaroo court -- England's General Medical Council.

He's since been stripped of his medical license in the U.K. But didn't stop him from coming to Minneapolis in December to spread his debunked theories among desperate Somali mothers and fathers of autistic kids. MPR reported that he was looking for subjects to participate in his research.

"It is solvable, it has a cause, it had a beginning and it must have an end," Wakefield said. "We cannot accept the damage that is being done to all of these children. It is completely unacceptable and the suffering you're going through."

The parents said they knew Wakefield was a controversial figure, but looking for hope, they wanted to hear what he had to say. Shukri Osman told MPR:

"At least he's trying to give us answers and he's listening to us. We need doctors to listen to us. We live with autism, and to see a doctor who's out there, giving his time and effort and money to help us, that's a big thing for me. I am thankful that he's here and he's helping us."

We recently reported on a different, dark side to autism treatment: Mario Cortolezzis, who ripped off the local autism charity he founded for his son. And he's not alone.

The rate of diagnoses of autism has soared 600 percent in the last 20 years, and it's become big business. The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee estimated in 2008 that $222 million was spent on autism research in this country.

You can watch Wakefield defend himself on CNN by clicking here.

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