Autism study debunked, but not all parents convinced - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Autism study debunked, but not all parents convinced

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By News 8 Reporter Jeff Zevely

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A new study has discredited the British researcher who spearheaded the belief that childhood vaccines may cause autism. But despite proof the researcher's findings were based on fake data, some parents aren't ready to let their kids get vaccinated.

Becky Estepp's 13-year-old son Eric suffers from autism, a disorder she says was set in motion when Eric was vaccinated as a nine-month-old baby.

"Just three to four hours later he was flooded with acidic diarreah," she said.

Estepp says after Eric received the vaccine, his immune system went down along with his mood.

"His development went off track. Later, we ended up with a child that at two years old was diagnosed with autism," she said.

Estepp is a strong believer in the British doctor Andrew Wakefield and the book he wrote linking vaccines to autism.

"The allegations and me and my colleagues are both unfounded and unjust ... I repeat, unfounded and unjust," Wakefield said.

Wakefield is now being called a fraud after allegations surfaced that he manipulated the data in his famous 1998 study that convinced many parents to not vaccinate their children.

Doctor Mark Sawyer is a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Rady Children's Hospital who says more than 20 scientific studies should serve as the final chapter on the debate.

"Not a single study has shown a link, the conclusion of the entire medical community is there is no link between vaccines and autism," Sawyer said.

Still, parents like Becky Estepp feel vaccines aren't meant for every child.

"Find out if the flu shot you are going to give your child this year has thimerecol in it -- that is half mercury, the most potent neurotoxin. In fact, it's the second most toxic substance on earth," she said.

"That's another great chapter, the thimerecol chapter. For a time people were linking thimerecol to vaccines with autism. We took the thimerecol out of vaccines and autism continues at the same rate or higher than it did before," Sawyer said.

"This is an extremely complicated topic, it's easily manipulated," Estepp said.

"The answer is clear cut. There is no debate about the answer and really people need to move on," Sawyer said.

"I'm not a crazy person. I have spent the last 10 years going over what happened to my son," Estepp said.

Estepp is trying to sue a drug company for what she says happened to her son. That litigation started in 2002, and she is still fighting.

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