Article at a Glance
• A federal court rules that thimerosal, an additive once used in vaccines, does not cause autism.
• Recent ruling joins mounting scientific evidence that there is no link between thimerosal and autism.
• The ruling offers additional reassurance to parents concerned about vaccinating their children.
As a parent it is hard not to be worried about claims made by the anti-vaccine movement that autism is connected to vaccines. However, parents can rest easier knowing that yet again, the theory has not stood up to scrutiny.
This March, a special federal court ruled that thimerosal, an additive once used in vaccines, does not cause autism. The court is a special branch of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims created to hear claims of injury from vaccines.
This ruling covered the last of three theories about the connection between thimerosal and autism. The first theory was addressed in 2009 when the court ruled that there was no connection, and the second one was later dropped.
In one of the rulings, Special Master George L. Hastings wrote, “This case . . . is not a close case. The overall weight of the evidence is overwhelmingly contrary to the petitioners’ causation theories.”
The first claim of a link between vaccines and autism was made in 1998 in a paper published by British physician, Andrew Wakefield. His paper has since been discredited, and he is under investigation for professional misconduct. Since that time, numerous scientific studies have been conducted specifically looking for a link between vaccines and autism. No link has been found. However, in response to parental concern, thimerosal has since been removed from most vaccines in the United States.
Doctors and scientists are hoping this latest ruling will help reassure parents who are concerned about vaccinating their children. Declining vaccination rates have lead to a frightening resurgence of many life-threatening diseases.
Advocacy group Autism Speaks strongly encourages parents to vaccinate their children stating that “the proven benefits of vaccinating a child to protect them against serious diseases far outweigh the hypothesized risk that vaccinations might cause autism.”
For More Information: