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Friday, March 7, 2008

Vaccine Court Ruling

Yesterday a Georgia family who went before the special federal "vaccine court" received a settlement, the amount of which is not yet determined. The parents charged that the five vaccines their nine-year-old daughter received on one day in 2000 significantly aggravated her rare, genetic mitochondrial condition, predisposing her to autism or other related autism-spectrum disorders. This is the first decision in favor of a family seeking damages specifically for autism and autism-spectrum disorders.

Nearly 5,000 families currently seek compensation for autism or autism-spectrum disorders from the federal special "vaccine court." These families blame their childrens' autism on vaccines, specifically thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative which prevents bacterial contamination, that was formerly found in most vaccines. Vaccine manufacturers completely removed thimerosal from infant vaccines in 1999. The manufacturers continued to use thimerosal in non-infant vaccines until 2001, but now it is typically found only in certain flu shots.

You can read the complete article, "Vaccine case draws new attention to autism debate," at CNN.Com/ Health dated March 6, 2008.

This is an emotionally charged topic among the autism community. To be honest, our family doesn't truly exist within that community. The Tongginator and I both fall on the autism-spectrum with SID/SPD, but we have such mild cases, I truly can't identify with nor speak for members of the autism community. Sensory integration dysfunction (SID), also called sensory processing disorder (SPD), is the brain's inability to correctly process information brought in by the senses. The challenges can range from mild to very severe. In mild cases, others might view the person as simply quirky, overly sensitive, lazy, picky, a little wild and/or a tad spoiled. Severe cases mimic autism.

Autism and autism-spectrum disorders are on the rise in the United States; some may even use the word epidemic. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one in every 150 U.S. children is born with autism. That number rises when you include autism-spectrum disorders such as SID/SPD. Interestingly, this special federal "vaccine court" obviously feels vaccines can, in some cases, trigger autism in people already predisposed to the condition. I agree with their stance. Yet, at the same time, the autism rate continued to climb even after vaccine manufacturers removed thimerosal from infant vaccines in 1999. I don't understand this.

So the questions are ... why does the autism rate continue to rise? What must we do to stem the tide? And how can we prevent a public health crisis if parents fear vaccinating their children? I have no answers, but I hope someone does. And soon.


Janet said...

My brother in law has autism, not caused by a vaccine. I think they need to look at ALL the factors, before they scare the pants off of parents so they don't vaccinate. Sigh. It's a tough one.