Federal court rejects vaccines-autism link

A federal court has determined that the theory that thimerosal-containing vaccines cause autism is "scientifically unsupportable," and that the families of children diagnosed with the condition are not entitled to compensation.

Three special masters in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims determined that families of Jordan King, William Mead and Colin Dwyer didn't prove a link between the vaccines and autism. The three released more than 600 pages of findings after reviewing these test cases.

Although Special Master George Hastings was sympathetic with the King family and believed they brought their claim in good faith, he found "the opinions provided by the petitioners' experts in this case, advising the King family that there is a causal connection between thimerosal-containing vaccines and Jordan's autism, have been quite wrong."

Special Master Patricia Campbell-Smith expressed doubt that the amount of inorganic mercury deposited in the brain from the vaccines could cause the effects the Mead family had alleged.  "Inorganic mercury is not the form of mercury understood to be most toxic in the doses involved in childhood vaccines, and a normal fish-eating diet by pregnant mothers produces a greater source of inorganic mercury for deposition in the brain than thimerosal-containing vaccines do," Campbell-Smith writes.

As CNN notes, the special masters' decisions are subject to review by judges in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Within the next 30 days, attorneys for the families will ask the claims court judges to review the decisions and rule that the children are entitled to compensation. In addition, the Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in the case over the question of whether people injured by vaccines can sue drugmakers in state and federal court.

The court's decision comes shortly after the release of a survey on parents' vaccine choices for their children.  Results of the survey showed that a quarter of parents indicated they believe vaccines can cause autism. However, they were surveyed more than a year before the Lancet decided to retract Andrew Wakefield's controversial study linking vaccines to autism.

- see Campbell-Smith's decision
- read Hastings' decision
- see Denise Vowell's decision
- find more at CNN

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