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Experts call for inquiry on antibiotics' cardiac effects

The rate of autism has risen only because of improvements in diagnosis and awareness of the disease ­ and not because of any genuine increase in

cases ­ claims a leading expert in childhood disease.

Professor Brent Taylor, honorary consultant in the department of child health at the London Royal Free Hospital, said autism was 80 per cent genetic and there was 'conclusive proof' that while prevalence had gone up, the true incidence had not.

Speaking at the Royal Society of Medicine's annual forum for GPs, he called Dr Andrew Wakefield's MMR study 'a major fly in the ointment' and claimed it had cost hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide.

He said: 'Dr Wakefield has put the whole global measles eradication process in jeopardy.'

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