Vaccine Court Rejects Autism Claims
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|Thu, 02-12-2009 - 3:36pm|
Vaccine Court: No Merit to Claims That Thimerosal in Vaccines Contributed to Autism
By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
Feb. 12, 2009 -- The federal "vaccine court" has rejected claims that either the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine or thimerosal in vaccines caused children's autism.
The vaccine court -- shorthand for the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims -- administers a system that since 1988 has overseen all claims for compensation due to injury from vaccinations.
Today's ruling is a major setback for the more than 5,000 cases in which families claim that the MMR vaccine, either alone or due to the mercury-based thimerosal preservative in the vaccine, caused a child's autism.
Lawyers for the families and Department of Health and Human Services (the defendant in the suit) agreed to argue three test cases. In these cases, the vaccine court agreed to decide whether there was sufficient evidence to blame vaccines for autism -- and whether to pay damages to the families.
The decision, in all three cases, is no. The court formally rejected arguments that either the MMR vaccine or thimerosal caused the children's autism.
Although huge amounts of scientific evidence were heard in the case, the vaccine court's decision is a legal ruling and not scientific proof.
Last March, federal officials said that a Georgia girl, Hannah Poling, was entitled to compensation from a federal vaccine injury fund because she developed autism-like symptoms after receiving childhood vaccines in 2000.
WebMD will be updating this story throughout the day as more information becomes available.