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In a verdict that will serve as another likely nail in the coffin for an autism theory, a federal vaccines court threw out three cases last week that dispel a belief that thimerosal — mercury-containing preservative — causes autism. I have previously covered this controversy: Some people believe vaccines with this preservative can cause autism, a complex neuro-developmental disorder. Yet piles of scientific research disprove this theory. Earlier rulings on this matter have been sent to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and that’s where these three cases are likely to end up. But not even case dismissals help us to better determine the real origins of autism, which affects 1 in 110 children. Autism today remains a tangle of environmental and genetic leads, but nothing conclusive. Those who are most affronted by this verdict are, obviously, the more than 5,300 parents who had filed claims with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ... keep reading »
While I can only hope that the recent retraction of a 1998 study that claimed the vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) could increase children’s risk of developing autism will close the door on this staunchly held belief, I’m afraid the myth still will prevail. In a statement explaining its retraction, The Lancet, a British medical journal, which published the study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, said, “it has become clear that several elements are incorrect … in particular, the claims in the original paper that children were ‘consecutively referred’ and that investigations were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false.” To parse that out for you, the main issue with the Wakefield study was a misleading breach of ethics. Specifically, Wakefield wrote that the 12 children in his case report were referred to his clinic with stomach problems; actually, the children were part of a lawsuit ... keep reading »

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