Families will make case for vaccine link to autism
By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer Mon May 12, 7:34 AM ET
WASHINGTON - The Institute of Medicine said in 2004 there was no credible evidence to show that vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal led to autism in children. But thousands of families have a different take based on personal experience
Some of them are going to court Monday as attorneys will attempt to show that the mercury-based preservative triggers symptoms of autism.
Two 10-year-old boys from Portland, Ore., will serve as test cases to determine whether many of the children and their families should be compensated. Attorneys for the boys will attempt to show the boys were happy, healthy and developing normally — but, after being exposed to vaccines with thimerosal, they began to regress.
Thimerosal has been removed in recent years from standard childhood vaccines, except flu vaccines that are not packaged in single-doses. The CDC says single-dose flu shots currently are available only in limited quantities. In 2004, a committee with the Institute of Medicine concluded there was no credible evidence that vaccines containing thimerosal caused autism.
Overall, nearly 4,900 families have filed claims with the U.S. Court of Claims alleging that vaccines caused autism and other neurological problems in their children. Lawyers for the families are presenting three different theories of how vaccines caused autism.
The Office of Special Masters of the claims court has instructed the plaintiffs to designate three test cases for each of the three theories — nine cases in all — and has assigned three special masters to handle the cases. Three cases in the first category were heard last year, but no decisions have been reached.
The two cases beginning Monday are among the three that focus on the second theory of causation: that thimerosal-containing vaccines alone cause autism. The plaintiff in the third case originally scheduled for hearing this month has withdrawn and lawyers and court officials are working to agree on substitute case.
Hearings in the test cases for the third theory of causation are scheduled in mid-September.
Lawyers for the petitioning families in the cases being heard this month say they will present evidence that injections with thimerosal deposit a form of mercury in the brain. That mercury excites certain brain cells that stay chronically activated trying to get rid of the intrusion.
"In some kids, there's enough of it that it sets off this chronic neuroinflammatory pattern that can lead to regressive autism," said attorney Mike Williams.
In the end, the families' attorneys hope to convince the special master hearing their case that thimerosal belongs on the list of causes for the inflammation that leads to regressive autism.
To win, the attorneys for the two boys, William Mead and Jordan King, will have to show that it's more likely than not that the vaccine actually caused the injury.
Many members of the medical community are skeptical of the families' claims. They worry that the claims about the dangers of vaccines could cause some people to forgo vaccines that prevent illness.
"I think that what's so endearing to me about the anti-vaccine people, is they're perfectly willing to go from one hypothesis to the next without a backward glance," said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Autism is a developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Dr. Andrew Gerber, a psychiatrist, said that medical experts don't have a comprehensive understanding of what causes autism, but they do know there is a strong hereditary component.
Toxins from the environment could play a role, but currently, data does not support that they do, Gerber said.
Arguments are scheduled to go on throughout the month. A final decision could take several more months. Claims that are successful would result in compensation taking into account lost earnings after age 18 and up to $250,000 for pain and suffering.
The families or the federal government can also appeal the decision of the special master to the Court of Federal Claims or to a federal appeals court.
The court Web site says more than 12,500 claims have been filed since creation of the program in 1987, including more than 5,300 autism cases, and more than $1.7 billion has been paid in claims. It says there is now more than $2.7 billion in a trust fund supported by an excise tax on each dose of vaccine covered by the program.
On the Net:
Background on thimerosal trial: http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/node/4428
**DISCLAIMER: The thoughts here are MY OWN**
I don't buy it. A case study in California showed that if thimerisol was to blame, then there would be a DECREASE over the past 10-15 years, not the INCREASE we've been seeing. 1 in 150 children. Wow, seems like a lot more to me since they've STOPPED using it.
I don't think it has ANYTHING to do with the vaccines we are giving our children. I think it has to do with vaccines that we were given as children.
Think about it. A woman is born with only the amount of egg cells that she will have for her entire life. It contains her DNA. When you mess with DNA such as with a vaccine, you also mess with the egg cells carrying that DNA and thus, half the DNA of any child born to that woman. i'm not saying place the blame on mothers. Because my son would have half my DNA, thus his children would have 1/4 of my DNA.
So, if I had a thimerisol-laced vaccination as a child, it would mess up my egg cells......furthering my children's ODDS for developing a developmental delay such as Autism.
Most parents of Autistic children I know don't how, they just want to know how to give their child the BEST possible life they can have. And ultimately, isn't that what we all want for our children?
Of course, I'd certainly appreciate the stares and rude comments to stop about my son's behavior, but my goodness, he is TWO.
(We were at Disney yesterday and they made us put his shoes on INSIDE and ON CARPET. I only obliged because I understood where they were coming from....luckily for us, it was an easy day. But, first, I can't hold Disney liable for my son's injury sine I work there and it's my responsibility as his parent to protect him from such injury. Second, UM HELLO....it was carpeted and inside. Are they saying that they dont' keep it clean enough for a child to go barefoot? Are they saying that my delayed son who is SO incredibly excited to see Mickey after a 30 minute wait in line has to STOP, put on his shoes and then he can see Mickey again, since they made me pull him away to put his shoes on?---thereby holding up the line behind us? He was so excited, the toe-walking and arm flapping was evident. And that's a RARE occurrence anymore. But, I guess we were lucky in that it was an AWESOME behavior day.....could have been much worse.)
Anyway, I don't believe that the vaccinations given in the last 10-15 years are to blame, I think if it's a genetic link, then it goes back at least one generation, if not more. they haven't tied a prevalence to families (YET), but I do know they are researching it. And until pediatric neurologists and developmental pediatricians start working with OB/GYNs and REs........we really won't know what's causing it or how to prevent/cure it.
Additionally, I truly think it's the ADD of this decade. It's a catch-all, nothing-else-fits diagnosis. We know Duck's not Autistic, but we don't know what IT is yet. Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Aphasia and Apraxia all present in the SAME way.....but again, they're elimination diagnoses. (my money's on CAPD with Duck lately....though Apraxia fits, too.)