Special court to hand down autism decisions

CNN is reporting that a special court at the Justice Department will hand down a decision later today on whether certain vaccines cause autism. An attorney involved in the process says that the court will decide on three test cases brought by parents who contend that vaccines--including some containing thimerosal--were responsible for triggering autism in their children. The decisions will have a heavy influence on the cases brought by 4,800 families before the Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceeding.

To prevail, the families will have to overcome arguments made by the government, the CDC and the Institute of Medicine that researchers have been unable to find any credible link between vaccines and autism. But that response hasn't stopped thousands of families from bringing three types of cases to the court. Some maintain that a combination of vaccines containing thimerosal and the MMR vaccine caused their children's autism to occur, while others claimed it was either the MMR vaccine or thimerosal alone that was responsible.

All the families involved maintained that their children were happy and normal before getting vaccinated. Afterward, they claim, the children suffered from a host of severe symptoms, including sudden seizures and an inability to communicate. It's unlikely, though, that a court ruling against the families could prevent many of them from believing that vaccines were responsible for their children's illnesses. Vaccine experts who have maintained that there is no good science to back up the autism link have been vilified for years.

- read the story from CNN

ALSO: The Sunday Times is reporting that Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who helped make the case that vaccines cause autism, manipulated and changed data for his 1998 study published in the Lancet. Report

UPDATE: The court ruled that parents who claim their children became autistic after receiving an MMR vaccine are not entitled to compensation. Report