A study by New Zealand’s Beverley Lawton et al. ‘proved’ that receipt of the HPV vaccine reduced preterm births.
However, when statistical sleuths questioned the data, the study was retracted, as it turned out that the findings were inverted – the HPV vaccine was actually associated with increased preterm births. The story of the retraction is quite scandalous and is worth exploring.
The study purported to provide “findings” of reductions in preterm births among HPV-vaccinated mothers.
Supposedly, vaccination “reduced” very preterm births (under 31 weeks) by 23% (77% odds ratio circled in the picture below).
However, in the retraction notice, the authors were forced to admit that the “findings were inverted,” and the data showed the opposite.
In other words, the data showed that the HPV vaccine increased the chances of very preterm births.
The authors’ retraction statement says:
This paper is being retracted at the request of the authors. The authors report that there was an incorrect interpretation of the odds ratio meaning that instead of HPV vaccination potentially being protective, there may be an associated increased risk of preterm delivery.
Then, backpedalling started:
The authors believe that an increased risk of preterm delivery is unlikely and not consistent with the evidence to date. Further, the authors have not been able to access the original source data as per protocol to check the data validity. The authors wish to repeat the study to reassure themselves that there were no data processing or other errors in the databases in order to reach definitive conclusions. [emphasis added]