For the second time, a journal has quickly retracted a study that suggested vaccines raise the risk of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
The study first raised a furor last year, prompting a Frontiers journal to quickly retract it. After it was republished in the Journal of Translational Science this month, that journal has also retracted it.
Although the titles of the two papers changed, the abstracts were nearly identical. Both studies surveyed the parents of 666 home-schooled children, 39% of whom where not vaccinated, and concluded that vaccination increased the risk of neurodevelopmental problems, particularly if children were born prematurely.
A representative of the Journal of Translational Science told us “Pilot comparative study on the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated 6- to 12-year-old U.S. children” has been retracted, and it will update us with an explanation.
Here’s more from the (now-retracted) abstract:
…in a final adjusted model with interaction, vaccination but not preterm birth remained associated with [neurodevelopmental disorders], while the interaction of preterm birth and vaccination was associated with a 6.6-fold increased odds of NDD (95% CI: 2.8, 15.5)…While vaccination remained significantly associated with NDD after controlling for other factors, preterm birth coupled with vaccination was associated with an apparent synergistic increase in the odds of NDD.
The journal is published by Open Access Text, which was included in the now-defunct list of possible predatory publishers, compiled by librarian Jeffrey Beall.
When the study appeared last year in Frontiers in Public Health, it caused a firestorm on Twitter, prompting Frontiers to release a public statement, noting that the study was only “provisionally accepted but not published.” It was retracted later that same week.
In 2011, first author Anthony Mawson at Jackson State University, filed a lawsuit against the Mississippi State Department of Health, in which he alleged that, after he advocated the need for more studies on vaccine safety, a state officer interfered with his then-position at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, resulting in his contract not getting renewed. The suit was dismissed the following year.
The last author of the study, Binu Jacob, is listed as a former graduate student at Jackson State.
This isn’t the first time an anti-vaccine study was republished after a hasty retraction — last February, Vaccine temporarily removed (then retracted) a study linking the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) to behavioral problems in mice; in July, the paper was republished by the journal Immunologic Research, albeit with major revisions, according to one of the co-authors.
Hat tip: Timothy Caulfield
Update 5/8/17 3:43 p.m. eastern: This story was updated since it was published to reflect the fact the paper had been retracted.
Update 5/18/17 9:26 a.m. eastern: It appears a version of the paper has been reposted online. We’ve asked the journal if the paper remains retracted, and will update if they respond.
Like Retraction Watch? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our growth. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, sign up on our homepage for an email every time there’s a new post, or subscribe to our daily digest. Click here to review our Comments Policy. For a sneak peek at what we’re working on, click here.