Dr. Besser's Notebook: The Fallout of Fraud

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Convincing the general public of the safety of vaccines is a task that may fall to those experts who take up the cause in the popular media. Two newly released books offer a look at the rise of the anti-vaccine movement. Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, analyzes the rise of vaccine fears in "Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All." And journalist Seth Mnookin explores the influence of Wakefield and other leaders of the anti-vaccine movement in "The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science and Fear."

For parents who have autistic children and believe that vaccines were the cause, I don't think this investigation will change anything. Until science can unravel the causes of autism and how to cure or prevent it, it will be hard to change these beliefs. Thankfully, though, more dollars are being spent on autism research now than ever before. I hope answers will be forthcoming. The tragedy is that for so long, research was focused down the wrong path, stimulated in large part by a fear of vaccines that stemmed from a fraud.

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