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Court Says Vaccine Not the Cause of Autism
Date:2/12/2009

Ruling, involving 3 families, seen as setback for parents who fear a link

THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- There's no scientific evidence that childhood vaccines such as the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine caused autism in children of parents seeking compensation from a federal fund, a U.S. court ruled Thursday.

The ruling, which involved test cases of children from three different families, was a setback for parents who had filed claims seeking monetary awards from a U.S.-run vaccine compensation program. More than 5,500 such claims have been filed. The claims were reviewed by the Office of Special Masters, part of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

"It was abundantly clear that petitioners' theories of causation were speculative and unpersuasive," the court said in one of the three cases ruled on Thursday. The court also said "the weight of scientific research and authority" was "simply more persuasive on nearly every point in contention," the Associated Press reported.

Federal health experts applauded the decision.

"The medical and scientific communities have carefully and thoroughly reviewed the evidence concerning the vaccine-autism theory and have found no association between vaccines and autism," the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement on its Web site. "If parents have questions or concerns about childhood vaccines, they should talk with their child's health care provider.

"Hopefully, the determination by the special masters will help reassure parents that vaccines do not cause autism," the statement added.

The court still has to rule on claims from other families, as well as families who contend that thimerosal, a preservative that's no longer used in most routine children's vaccines, caused autism in their children.

But, a judge did hint at future decisions when he stated, "The petitioners have failed to demonstrate that thimero
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