Study that linked autism and vaccines was "an elaborate fraud"S

British doctor Andrew Wakefield already lost his medical license over his faulty research linking vaccines and autism, but now a new report says his 1998 paper, published in the Lancet, was actually fraudulent.

British journalist Brian Deer was paid by the Sunday Times and Channel Four to examine Wakefield's research, and the results were just published in the British Medical Journal. Says Associated Press:

Deer found that despite the claim in Wakefield's paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children's parents.

Wakefield could not be reached for comment despite repeated calls and requests to the publisher of his recent book, which claims there is a connection between vaccines and autism that has been ignored by the medical establishment. Wakefield now lives in the U.S. where he enjoys a vocal following including celebrity supporters like Jenny McCarthy.

The depressing part? Even though Wakefield's study is thoroughly discredited, and 10 out of the 13 authors listed on it have renounced it, rates of measles infection have spiked massively in the years since he published it. AP says there are "sporadic outbreaks" of measles in the U.S. and Europe, and in 2008, measles was "deemed endemic" in England and Wales.

Top photo: Wakefield addresses supporters in Chicago this past May. Photo by AP/Charles Rex Arbogast.

[Associated Press]