Frumpfighter

Court: Vaccines not linked to autism

Posted on: February 12, 2009

Children of all abilities were given a boost Thursday when a special court ruled that parents claiming certain vaccinations caused their children to be autistic are not entitled to compensation.  

There has been a belief among a large segment of those affected by autism (and their lawyers) that the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccines and thimerosal-containing vaccines can combine to cause autism. This has caught fire with celebrities like Jenny McCarthy speaking out on the topic.

Don’t get me wrong, Jenny McCarthy is a wonderful advocate for autism awareness. The dedication to improving her son’s life is inspiring. But it has been a concern among some of us with autistic children that all the publicity surrounding the vaccine debate would cause parents to forgo necessary vaccinations.

When my son, Sage, first starting showing developmental delays when he was an infant, I was convinced it was because I took Prozac and thyroid medication while I was pregnant. He was also born five weeks before his due date and had a rough delivery. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and his first Apgar score was 1. He was immediately put on oxygen and his score increased to 9 within minutes.

My doctors then and now have told (not necessarily convinced) me that none of these factors are related to Sage’s delays. He has received all of his vaccinations on schedule and I have never believed they caused him to be on the autism spectrum. His father and I are not sure why our son has always been developmentally delayed or why his social skills have put him on the autism spectrum. We are more focused on getting him therapy and preparing him to function in the real world.

According to an Associated Press story, here are some points in the ruling:

  • The judges in the cases said the evidence was overwhelmingly contrary to the parents’ claims – and backed years of science that found no risk.
  • “It was abundantly clear that petitioners’ theories of causation were speculative and unpersuasive,” the court concluded in one of a trio of cases ruled on Thursday.
  • The ruling was anxiously awaited by health authorities and families who began presenting evidence nearly two years ago. More than 5,500 claims have been filed by families seeking compensation through the government’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The claims are reviewed by special masters serving on the U.S. Court of Claims.
  • “Hopefully, the determination by the special masters will help reassure parents that vaccines do not cause autism,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.
  • To win, the families’ attorneys had to show that it was more likely than not that the autism symptoms in the children were directly related to a combination of the measles-mumps-rubella shots and other shots that at the time carried a mercury-containing preservative called thimerosal.
  • “The petitioners have failed to demonstrate that thimerosal-containing vaccines can contribute to causing immune dysfunction,” a judge wrote about one theory that the families proposed to explain how autism might be linked.

This issue is certainly not going to go away with this ruling. There are people passionate about it on both sides. What do you think? Please comment or e-mail me at ajh1109@mchsi.com

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1 Response to "Court: Vaccines not linked to autism"

Good post. I agree and really wonder what will happen when Jenny goes on tour for her new book – Healing and Preventing Autism: A Complete Guide

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