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Families claiming that a mercury-based preservative in vaccines triggers autism are challenging mainstream medicine as they take their test case to a Federal court in the United States.
The families of two 10-year-old autistic boys from Portland, Oregon, are seeking compensation from a government fund that helps people injured by vaccinations.
Lawyers for the families will present three different theories of how vaccines caused autism, beginning with this week’s case which focuses on the second of those theories: that thimerosal-containing vaccines alone cause the developmental disability. They will present evidence that injections with thimerosal deposit a form of mercury in the brain which ultimately leads to regressive autism.
In recent years Thimerosal has been removed from standard childhood vaccines, except the flu jab. In 2004, a committee with the Institute of Medicine concluded there was no credible evidence that vaccines containing thimerosal caused autism.
Many members of the medical community are sceptical of the families’ claims.
“I think that what’s so endearing to me about the anti-vaccine people is they’re perfectly willing to go from one hypothesis to the next without a backward glance,” said Dr Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Centre at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
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