February 12th, 2009
01:03 PM ET
Court rules vaccines not to blame for autism
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
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.
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.
You need to take part in a contest for one of the finest sites online. I am going to recommend this site!
This is a topic which is near to my heart... Take care! Where are your contact details though?
Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe this web site needs far more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the advice!
Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thanks for providing these details.
Very good info. Lucky me I ran across your website by accident (stumbleupon). I have saved as a favorite for later!
Can I simply just say what a comfort to discover someone that truly understands what they are discussing on the internet. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people ought to look at this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you are not more popular since you most certainly have the gift.
You've made some really good points there. I looked on the web to learn more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.
You are so interesting! I do not think I have read through a single thing like this before. So great to discover someone with some genuine thoughts on this topic. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with some originality!
Excellent web site you've got here.. Itís difficult to find high quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!
I like looking through an article that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!
Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to make a very good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a whole lot and don't seem to get nearly anything done.
Itís nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people on this subject, however, you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
vardenafil vs tadalafil https://www.pharmaceptica.com/
An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you should publish more on this topic, it may not be a taboo matter but usually people do not talk about such issues. To the next! Best wishes!!
Good blog post. I absolutely appreciate this website. Thanks!
You have made some good points there. I looked on the web to learn more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.
Good blog you have got here.. Itís difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!
Best view i have ever seen !
I loved as much as you'll receive carried out right
here. The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish.
nonetheless, you command get got an impatience over
that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly
the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this
Your style is really unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this page.
Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thanks for supplying this information.
This is a topic that's near to my heart... Thank you! Where are your contact details though?
Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!
After going over a few of the blog articles on your web page, I honestly like your way of writing a blog. I saved it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my website as well and tell me how you feel.
Itís hard to come by well-informed people about this topic, however, you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
Awesome article post.Thanks Again. Great.
Spot on with this write-up, I seriously feel this site needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the advice!
You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the best sites on the internet. I'm going to recommend this blog!
This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Thanks!