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BLOG: June 2007

Vaccines and autism

A lot has been written about possible link between early childhood vaccines and autism, but the controversy is still alive. What could be decisive moment in tipping the balance to one or the other side is just taking place in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (USCFC), where the parents of 12-year old Michelle Cedillo will try to convince the court that their daughter autism has been caused by the MMR (Measles/Mumps/Rubella) vaccine when she was 15 months old.

If they succeed, it will be a precedent for the vaccines/autism link, and open the door for over 4800 other cases that piled up since 1999 (CNN).

What are the chances for this to happen? Should be decent, even good. For one, this court doesn't require hard evidence, only to show that the vaccination probably caused the ailments. Cedillo's theory that it all resulted from the combined effect of mercury-based vaccine preservative - thimerosal - for multi-dose vials suppressing Michelle's immune system, and weakened measles virus from the vaccine consequently - and unplanned - taking a hold in her body, is certainly possible.

Besides, mercury itself is a super-potent neurotoxin. By the time she was seven months old,

Michelle was already injected with 112.5μg of thimerosal

from the vaccines she received. This quantity of thimerosal contains 56μg of ethyl-mercury. Little is known about its toxicity; according to a recent preliminary study (Burbacher, 2005), it appears to be significantly more toxic that methyl-mercury. If so, Michelle may have been exposed to

much more than the official safe limit of mercury

- which is 0.1μg/kg/day of ingested methyl-mercury for children - from this single source alone.

And no one can tell how safe is the official "safe" level. There is really no reliable scientific basis for it. No long term scientific study has ever been conducted for health effects of mercury alone, let alone for the synergistic effect with many other toxins and risk factors that children are exposed to.

On the flip side, if the court decides in favor of the Cedillo family, they will be entitled only to a fraction of the compensation they could expect in a regular court. The reason is that the USCFC, formed in 1986, is a no-fault policy court, which basically protects vaccine manufacturers - and steady vaccine supply - from the negative effect of lawsuits. The compensation budget - at present $2.5 billion within the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program - comes from a special vaccine tax. In fact, any compensations ordered by this court

will be, in effect, paid by the consumer,

not by vaccine manufacturers, or the government.

But if the March 2006 ruling of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals holds, the three thimerosal manufacturers can be sued directly in regular courts, on the grounds that the preservative is not inherent vaccine ingredient, hence it is not covered by the no-fault National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act policy. The Cedillo USCFC decision would be crucial for those trials.

The biggest obstacle for the Cedillo family is the government, which is effectively the defendant in this case (US Department of Justice, Civil Division). It is the government that not only allowed, but made mandatory vaccination of millions of children that resulted in toxic exposure harmful to undetermined number of children. It is no surprise that its official stand on the thimerosal/autism link changed from "possible" in 1999 to "no link" in 2004. The "petitioners" (plaintiff) were already denied access to the government's database which was used for the 2004 USCDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) study that found "no link between thimerosal and autism", despite this study's result being one of the major arguments by the defense.

If anything, this shows that you need to be well informed when it comes to your health, and especially health of those most precious and most helpless in your life - your children. Unfortunately, it may not be always enough.