February 12th, 2009
01:03 PM ET

Court rules vaccines not to blame for autism

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

There is a special court, known colloquially as a vaccine court. It is a place where judges called “special masters,” who are legal experts, not medical doctors, hear claims about vaccine injuries. It’s been around since the late 80s, in part prompted by the scare over the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) vaccine possibly causing injuries. If the court finds that an injury was likely caused by a vaccine, it can make a monetary award. For example, a few years ago, there was a case of optic neuritis after the tetanus vaccine. Other awards were given for fibromyalgia after the MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccine; transverse myelitis after the HiB (Haemophilus influenzae type B) vaccine; and Guillain-Barre and MS after the hepatitis B vaccine.

Many people started paying attention to the court after the federal government last year awarded damages to the family of Hannah Poling, conceding that Hannah was injured by a vaccine, causing her autism-like symptoms. (Read about Hannah’s case here) According to the Department of Justice, more than 1,500 people have been paid in excess of $1.18 billion since the inception of the program in 1988.

There is no question there is lots of money at play here. For more than 20 years now, the program has been funded by an excise tax of 75 cents on every purchased dose of covered vaccine. And, with today’s decision, some of the big questions about vaccines and autism are being addressed. It is worth noting the standard the court was using allowed for the petitioners (the parents of the children with autism) to demonstrate “biologic plausibility” as opposed to direct cause and effect. Scientifically, biological plausibility is an easier standard to meet. (Read about vaccine court now).

While this can by no means be a complete overview of the hundreds of pages that composed the ruling (read the decisions here), it is safe to say that the court found no biological plausibility of a connection between autism and either the MMR vaccine, or the combination of MMR vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccines: no awards will be granted in any of these test cases. We spent some time with Michelle Cedillo, one of the children represented in the test cases last year (meet her here). You will no doubt hear a lot more about this in the days to come. Within the world of autism and vaccines, this is a huge deal and a major ruling.

Couple of points: Remember that thimerosal is a mercury-derived preservative that was present in many childhood vaccines that did not contain a live virus (for example, the MMR vaccine never contained thimerosal). Nowadays thimerosal has been removed from or reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines that are routinely recommended for children six years of age and younger, with the exception of inactivated influenza vaccine. In case you are curious, a preservative-free version of the inactivated influenza vaccine (contains trace amounts of thimerosal) is available in limited supply at this time for use in infants, children and pregnant women. And, in the interest of clarity, vaccines with trace amounts of thimerosal contain 1 microgram or less of mercury per dose. (Learn more about vaccines here)

On page 278 of the decision in of the cases, Snyder v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, the statements even get a little snide. The special master, Denice K. Vowell, wrote “to conclude that Colten’s condition was the result of his MMR vaccine, an objective observer would have to emulate Lewis Carroll’s White Queen and be able to believe the six impossible (or, at least highly improbable) things before breakfast.” She goes on to say “the families of ASD and the court have waited in vain for adequate evidence to support the autism–MMR hypothesis.”

So, do you feel like you are gazing through the “looking-glass?”

I hope you get a chance to click on the links above and read the rulings. You will find that not all the experts agreed with one another and the evidence is worth reading. After that, I’m eager to hear what you think.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

Next entry »
soundoff (903 Responses)
  1. Nearest RV Repair

    Good article. I definitely appreciate this website. Thanks!


    June 15, 2021 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Repair Fountain Valley

    An impressive share! I've just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast simply because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this matter here on your internet site.


    June 15, 2021 at 21:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Repair Mission Viejo

    I couldnít refrain from commenting. Very well written!


    June 15, 2021 at 21:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Repairs Nearby


    June 15, 2021 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Repair Shop Near Me


    June 16, 2021 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Repair Nearby


    June 16, 2021 at 00:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your content. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I will bookmark your website and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.


    June 16, 2021 at 03:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Repair Near Me


    June 16, 2021 at 04:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the net. I most certainly will recommend this site!


    June 16, 2021 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me


    June 16, 2021 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Repair Fountain Valley

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that make the largest changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 16, 2021 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Ia0O

    447321 873650Hello Guru, what entice you to post an article. This article was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday. 244871

    June 16, 2021 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. http://www.joburi-absolventi.edu.ro

    Hiya! Quick question that's completely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My blog looks weird when browsing from my apple iphone.
    I'm trying to find a template or plugin that might be
    able to resolve this problem. If you have any recommendations, please share.
    Many thanks!

    Also visit my website blugi barbati dsquared (http://www.joburi-absolventi.edu.ro)

    June 16, 2021 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. church's chicken near me


    June 16, 2021 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. lawn care near me


    June 16, 2021 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. thrift stores near me

    I'm more than happy to find this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every part of it and i also have you bookmarked to see new stuff on your site.


    June 16, 2021 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. pool supplies near me

    Spot on with this write-up, I really feel this website needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the information!


    June 16, 2021 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. bojangles near me


    June 16, 2021 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. dhl near me

    Hello! I could have sworn Iíve been to this blog before but after going through some of the posts I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím certainly delighted I came across it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!


    June 16, 2021 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. boat rentals near me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and also the rest of the site is extremely good.


    June 16, 2021 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Camper Repair Shop Near Me


    June 16, 2021 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Repair Around Me

    Hi there! This post could not be written much better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I most certainly will send this post to him. Pretty sure he'll have a good read. Thanks for sharing!


    June 16, 2021 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. RV Repairs Near Me


    June 16, 2021 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. eye doctor near me

    Iím amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís both equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I found this during my search for something regarding this.


    June 17, 2021 at 00:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Repairs Near Me

    Excellent post. I am facing a few of these issues as well..


    June 17, 2021 at 03:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. RV Repairs Near Me


    June 17, 2021 at 04:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    bookmarked!!, I really like your website!


    June 17, 2021 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. hvac near me

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the best sites on the web. I will recommend this website!


    June 17, 2021 at 05:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. funeral homes near me

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you, However I am experiencing problems with your RSS. I donít know why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting similar RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 17, 2021 at 08:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Repair Fountain Valley


    June 17, 2021 at 09:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. places hiring near me


    June 17, 2021 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Repair Nearby

    I blog quite often and I truly appreciate your information. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.


    June 17, 2021 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Repair Near My Location


    June 17, 2021 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. psychiatrist near me


    June 17, 2021 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. arcade near me


    June 17, 2021 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. salon near me

    Can I simply say what a comfort to find somebody that truly knows what they are discussing on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to look at this and understand this side of the story. I can't believe you are not more popular since you certainly possess the gift.


    June 17, 2021 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. flea market near me


    June 17, 2021 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. circle k near me


    June 17, 2021 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. xfinity store near me

    Good day! I could have sworn Iíve been to your blog before but after browsing through some of the articles I realized itís new to me. Anyways, Iím certainly happy I stumbled upon it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!


    June 17, 2021 at 19:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. seafood restaurants near me

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you ought to write more about this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but typically folks don't talk about these issues. To the next! All the best!!


    June 17, 2021 at 21:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. rv rentals near me


    June 17, 2021 at 23:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. catering near me

    You made some really good points there. I looked on the net to learn more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.


    June 17, 2021 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. cabela's near me


    June 18, 2021 at 01:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. stores near me


    June 18, 2021 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. kia dealership near me

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing problems with your RSS. I donít understand the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having similar RSS problems? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 18, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. ups near me


    June 18, 2021 at 07:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. vape shops near me

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe that this amazing site needs much more attention. Iíll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the advice!


    June 18, 2021 at 09:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. psychiatrist near me

    I blog often and I really thank you for your information. The article has really peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your website and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    June 18, 2021 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. for rent near me

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Many thanks for providing these details.


    June 18, 2021 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. groceries near me

    That is a good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise informationÖ Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!


    June 18, 2021 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Leave a Reply to Google Marketing Contractor


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Next entry »
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.