U.S. vaccine court denies family's autism case

Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:30pm EST
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By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A special U.S. court ruled against three families on Thursday who claimed vaccines caused their children's autism.

The Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceeding ruled against the parents of Michelle Cedillo, Colten Snyder and William Yates Hazlehurst, who had claimed that a measles, mumps and rubella vaccines had combined with other vaccine ingredients to damage the three children.

"I conclude that the petitioners have not demonstrated that they are entitled to an award on Michelle's behalf," Special Master George Hastings, a former tax claims expert at the Department of Justice, wrote in the Cedillo ruling.

The families sought payment under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault system that has a $2.5 billion fund built up from a 75-cent-per-dose tax on vaccines.

No judges but instead three "special masters" heard the three test cases representing thousand of other petitioners.

They asked whether a combination vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, plus a mercury-containing preservative called thimerosal, caused the children's symptoms.

"The evidence does not support the general proposition that thimerosal-containing vaccines can damage infants' immune systems," Hastings wrote, after reviewing tens of thousands of documents and hours of oral arguments.

Michelle's parents argued that she was a normal baby until she received the vaccine.   Continued...

<p>A vaccine drips out of a syringe as a nurse prepares for a patient at a clinic in central London November 22, 2005. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez</p>