The Sunday Times of London reports media the rapid increase in measles worldwide since 1998. When Dr Andrew Wakefield’s research into the connection between autism and the MMR vaccine sparked controversy. We media sociologists often struggle to find solid evidence of media effects. Given the complexity of modelling the media-individual-society relationship. But here is an example of how journalism shapes social reality which is both persuasive and frightening.

Recall that Dr Wakefield published 1998 results from research that claimed to link the rapid. Increase in autism incidence worldwide to the vaccine recommendation by GPs for infants (MMR)

The vaccine worked and measles incidence fell steadily up until the late 1990s. By then, it was consider rare. Under the benign influence medical science, a disease that had previously. Caused severe distress and even death for millions of children is now a rare rarity.

Doctors were also noticing a sharp rise in autism rates some even up to 400% in certain countries. Wakefield recognized the connection and attempted to prove with clinical research that MMR-exposed children were more likely than those who didn’t. Results were publish in 1998.

Mainstream Media

His findings were widely cover in mainstream media and took very seriously. The UK’s prime minister Tony Blair was ask a series of journalistic questions about whether or not he given his son Leo the MMR vaccine program. He refused to answer the questions, citing the privacy protection of his baby. Later, he made it clear that his son had received the MMR protection and that he did not have time to consider the Wakefield theory.

Wakefield was since expelled and his research discredited. Alas, before that could happen, anxious parents around the world stopped giving MMR vaccines to their children. The incidence of measles rose to the point where the term epidemic is frequently use to describe it. As of 2013, Australia had thirty clusters of measles infection. This pattern is common around the globe. These are two medical conditions and two examples of how news media can influence public perceptions and anxiety.

First, autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism. ASD isn’t a disease or illness. It is a developmental condition that causes a variety of behaviors, including OCD, social isolation, and more severe disabilities that require full-time care. It also includes Asperger’s Syndrome. This condition has received a lot of media attention since the 1988 Hollywood movie Rainman (Barry Levinson), starring Dustin Hoffmann, as the hero.

Aspergers Before Rainman’s Success

Few people knew or understood autism or Aspergers before Rainman’s success. Through the 1990s, there was a rise in public and professional awareness about this mysterious new condition. Even though Hoffmann’s character wasn’t typical of ASD patients, this was a welcome development. This enabled support and resources to be create where none existed before, which allow many ASD people to live fulfilled and independent lives.

However, as is often the case, ASD was over-use in a world that features new syndromes are a regular feature in science and media health reporting. It stuck to children with conditions like not eating normally or repetitive behaviour, shyness, anxiety, and shyness. Autistic disorders were discover by parents who faced difficult children.

They were also trendy, thanks to Rainman. There are many Aspy support groups available online. Additionally, there is a growing collection of memoirs written by people with ASD. Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident Of The Dog in The Night-time was a bestseller in 2003.

Although Haddon does not have Aspergers, it is widely believed that he wrote a compassionate and authentic account of the condition’s impact on a young boy. Autism is real. It is better to be invisible than invisibility from times past.

Genetically Determined

It is highly likely to be genetically determined, and it can run in families. Most common in males and cannot be cured. It cannot be ‘caught with the MMR vaccine or any other environmental factors that have been suggested since the 1990s as a reason for the increase in reported cases. The rise in ASD diagnoses in the past two decades is due to the increased visibility of ASD in literature, movies, journalism, and documentaries.

However, MMR was reported as a possible cause for autism by media organizations around the globe. This led to a more unwelcome movement toward heightened anxiety and unfounded fear about the safe and beneficial treatment for measles.

According to estimates, parental participation in MMR vaccination programs fell by 15% in countries where Wakefield’s work received the most attention. This means that hundreds of thousands of families opted out. Some parents still worry about their children being vaccinate even though Wakefield was remove from the UK Medical Register in 2010.

The unintended result of the honest but ill-informed reporting of a dishonest researcher’s sane theories is the measles spike. This is a warning that you should not believe everything you read in the newspapers. You could seriously harmed

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