Dan Bewley, News On 6

UNDATED -- A decade old study that said vaccines cause autism is now being called an "elaborate fraud." British Dr. Andrew Wakefield released the study 12 years ago, saying the MMR vaccine can cause autism in children shortly after being vaccinated. 

The 1998 study launched a movement in the UK and the United States to encourage parents to keep their children from being vaccinated.

But the paper has been retracted and now its main author is accused of making it all up. 

Dr. Patrick Daley has been a practicing pediatrician for 30 years. For the last decade he's seen an increase in parents worried about the MMR vaccine, that's measles, mumps, and rubella.

It all stems from former British Dr. Andrew Wakefield who said he performed a study that linked the MMR vaccine to autism.

"I think it is especially bad because it has scared a lot of people about not giving their kids the vaccinations, and there are complications of those diseases and death is certainly one of them," said Dr. Patrick Daley, M.D.

But Wakefield's infamous study has been retracted from publication, and his medical license has been revoked in England. Now an investigation into the study is calling it an "elaborate fraud."

Among the findings from the British Medical Journal:

  • Wakefield changed the medical histories of his patients
  • The children were recruited from anti-MMR organizations
  • Five of the 12 children in the study showed symptoms of developmental problems before being given the vaccine, and
  • Wakefield received money from lawyers looking to make a case against the MMR vaccine.

Despite the results, Wakefield stands by his study and told CNN the reporter behind the BMJ investigation has an ax to grind.

"He is a hit man. He has been brought in to take me down because they are very, very concerned with the adverse reactions to vaccines that are occurring in children," Andrew Wakefield said.

Dr. Daley isn't buying it.

He's very angered by Wakefield's behavior and has no doubt the MMR vaccine is safe.

Dan Bewley: Is there any connection between the MMR vaccine and autism?
Dr. Patrick Daley/Pediatrician: I'm going to give that a big no. I think it's very safe and I think the kids ought to get it.

Dr. Daley says the study has caused parents to question other vaccines as well, which has put children at risk for diseases that are normally under control such as whooping cough.