On June 11, the Federal Court of Claims will hear a case on which looks to establish a clear link between childhood vaccinations, specifically vaccinations which contain thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, and autism.
If the court makes the connection, it will prove what many parents of autistic children have already believed to be true: that their child’s autism is from the injection of mercury in the child’s infancy.
Michelle Cedillo, a 12 year old who was born “normal” became severely handicapped by autism within a week after receiving her MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. A toddler at the time, Michelle began to experience symptoms common with autism: loss of speech, constant pain, loss of bowel control and the inability to even respond to her own name.
The question of whether thimerosal leads to autism did not surface widely until the late 1990s. Parents and autism groups now point angrily to both government and drug company documents that show questions were being raised years earlier about the safety of the mercury preservative. Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote a controversial Rolling Stone article in 2005 accusing the government of “whitewashing” evidence of thimerosal’s effects.
But the government, while phasing out the use of mercury preservatives in most vaccines, still says there is “no evidence of harm” from thimerosal. A 2004 study released by the Institute of Medicine, founded as part of the National Academy of Sciences, said the accumulation of scientific evidence “favors rejection of a causal relationship.”
For many, that closed the debate, but for parents, bolstered by new studies that reach the opposite conclusion, as well as their own experiences, the connection is still apparent. Future test cases before the claims court will examine whether thimerosal alone, or the MMR vaccine alone, can also cause autism
Since 1999, more than 5100 claims have been made against vaccine manufacturers related to autism.