Research Evaluation Paper on Link between Intestinal Pathology and Autism


This qualitative research is premised on Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues’ assertions that there is a link between administering the MMR vaccine and autism and the gastrointestinal disease in children. Their publication received wide publicity, consequently resulting to a drop in the up-take of the MMR vaccination as most parents perceived and linked the vaccine to the risk of autism. Appallingly, many children across the globe were not vaccinated since their parents feared the risk of autism and gastrointestinal disease. Other studies later refuted the assertions and attributed the measles outbreaks in the UK and USA as a result of non-vaccination of children related to MMR risk of autism and gastrointestinal disease. This study will summarize Dr. Wakefield study and discuss the sample and population used.  Additionally, a summary and comparison the results, conclusions, and applications in four studies detailing Dr. Wakefield’s study will be done.  Giving a description of the statistical method used in the cited research studies will also constitute the scope of this study.

Keywords: vaccine, autism, MMR



Qualitative Research Evaluation and Statistical Applications

Dr Andrew Wakefield and his group brought forth assertions linking the measles virus, the bowel disease, and autism problem in 1998. Their discovery was later asserted to be the direct cause of the slump regarding the MMR intake. Benaron (2012) portends that measles outbreaks were recorded in vast parts of the country as a result. Years on, the study of Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his group of doctors is hitting the headlines.

Notably, this study will be based on statements of research studies that are quantitative or mixed methods in nature (experimental, quasi-experimental, descriptive or pre-experimental/survey) related to the topic Clinical Drug Development.

Summary of the Type of Study

Link between Intestinal Pathology and Autism

In this study the researchers discovered intestinal pathology among ten autistic children. It sought to determine whether the claim that intestinal pathology is prevalent in children diagnosed with autism compared to those without autism was correct. Porzsolt & Kaplan (2014) elucidate that autism is a disorder in children that is characterized by an impaired social interaction, both verbal and non-verbal, and repetitive behavior. The signs of autism are most prevalent in a child’s first two years.

A possible link between intestinal pathology, neurodevelopmental disorder and autism, has been a subject of great concern. The debate was raised when the study of Wakefield and his group determined MMR vaccine as a causing factor of autism.

Sample Population

Random Sampling

Random sampling of the respondents will be employed where respondents are be given an equal chance of participating in the study. Random sampling will be chosen because of the method’s ability to eliminate bias during sample selection. Spekowius & Wendler (2013) assert that in random sampling, the reliability of the findings is guaranteed because any possible variations between the different samples are mitigated and the population characteristics where the sample is obtained from are coincidental and purely based on chance.

A cohort study of children was chosen from a specified year of birth and diagnosed for intestinal pathology. Children diagnosed with autism and those without autism were randomly sampled and a study was further conducted on them. The children were assigned unique identification numbers.

The two groups were subjected to MMR vaccination and observed independently to find out if intestinal pathology was prevalent in children diagnosed with autism compared to those without autism. A number of children with autism who reported positive intestinal pathology and those without autism who reported positive intestinal pathology were noted. After analysis, structured conclusions were drawn based on the study findings to help answer the question whether the claim that intestinal pathology was prevalent in children diagnosed with autism compared to those without autism.


Madsen (2012) study sought to answer the question whether there was a link between the vaccination administered for MMR and autism. A theory that linked MMR and autism asserted that children without symptoms of autism in their early life were reported to develop autism after receiving the MMR vaccination.

Madsen et al. conducted an examination on the health records of the children that were born in Denmark between1991 and 1998. A total sample of 537,303 children was used in this study. 440,655 representing 82% of the total children were administered with the MMR vaccine while 96,648 children were not administered the vaccination. The records on children diagnosed with autism and other related disorders were obtained from the board of health of the Danish government. This enabled Madsen et al to be acquainted with the health background of the children. The authors further conducted a detailed assessment of the records of the 13% of the already diagnosed children and reclassified 8% for the study representing 1% of the total population. Diagnosis that was used in their assessment was aligned with the US CDC. Ingrained on these percentages, 316 children recorded a positive diagnosis of autism while 422 of the children recorded positive to disorders of autistic-spectrum.

This study did not find any link between autism and the MMR vaccination. In addition, the study found that there was no enhanced risk of autism in those children vaccinated vs. those children who were not immunized.  Based on the adjustment for the potential confounding variables, the study concluded that the relative risk of the vaccinated children was computed to be 0.92 at 95% confidence intervals.  Similarly, their study recorded similar findings to the other autistic-spectrum disorders (relative risk of 0.83 at 95% confidence intervals).


The studies concluded that no hint existed to link the administration of MMR and autism. Any possible link was attributed to third variables and chance.

Statistical Method Utilized

The studies utilized descriptive statistics in displaying the findings. Hypothesis testing and confidence intervals were statistical methods utilized in the studies, for instance, a relative risk of 1 indicated that an exact equivalent risk while a relative risk of less than 1 demonstrated a minimal likelihood of children developing autism after receiving MMR vaccination. Thus, from Madsen et al study findings, the relative risk is less than 1 (0.92) indicating a less likelihood of children developing autism after administration of the MMR vaccine.




Benaron, K. (2012). Measles Outbreak. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Porzsolt, F., & Kaplan, R. M. (2014). Improving the value of Healthcare Delivery Services. New York: Springer.

Spekowius, G., & Wendler, T. (2013). Shaping the future of medical care. Dordrecht: Springer.

Madsen, D. (2012). Intestinal Pathology and Autism. Boston: Kluwer Academic.