ATLANTA -- Controversy continues to swirl around the latest study to challenge the link between vaccinations and autism. A recent investigation in the British medical journal BMJ called Dr. Andrew Wakefield's work in 1998 an "elaborate fraud" -- a charge the doctor vehemently denies.
Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot and founder of the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, puts himself in the middle of the heated, emotional issue.
"You have two schools of thought, and then you should have this scientific group in the middle that doesn't have any political agenda that just cares about the kids," Marcus said. "I've tried to associate myself with that group of people that doesn't necessarily agree or disagree."
Marcus sides with the scientists.
"Everything that comes back is the same," he said. "They cannot find any connection between immunization and autism."
Marcus has been directly involved in Autism research and treatment for more than 20 years. He founded and funded the nation's leading center for autism treatment. Now in its 10th year, the Marcus Autism Center has already treated more than 30,000 youngsters, as well as providing family support and counseling.
Although Marcus stays in the middle, he questions the Wakefield study linking vaccinations to the autism.
"I've never seen any study done with 12 people. It's not the way it's done today," Marcus said.
He knows that despite the numbers involved in the study, both supporters and opponents are firm in their opinions. But Marcus urges them to pause and do considerable research before making any decision on whether or not to immunize a child based on the fear of autism.
"As a parent, you have to give it deep thought and do what you think is right," he said. "Trust your pediatrician. Trust the medical sources that you go to."
Personally, Marcus takes a strong stand in favor of immunization.
"I think it's a mistake not to immunize your children. That comes from somebody who is not a scientist and not a pediatrician. I'm a grandpa, and I'm speaking from my own experiences in life and I would support a parent going to your pediatrician whoever that might be," Marcus said. "If you trust them-then trust their judgment on this."
He adds a big caution light.
"But understand if your child does not have immunizations then that child is an open candidate for some of these terrible things like measles, whopping cough, all of these things we've been able to quell all these years," Marcus said. "It's a very calculated move. I feel for the parents."
The arguments won't subside for some time no matter what medical journals report, but as Bernie Marcus says trust your research and your physician to guide you in the right direction.