Thursday, February 12, 2009

Autism activists, meet science.

Another step to discrediting the claims that vaccines are what cause autism came in a court decision today. In a blow to the movement arguing that vaccines lead to autism, a special court ruled on Thursday against three families seeking compensation from the federal vaccine-injury fund.

Both sides in the debate have been awaiting decisions in these test cases since hearings began in 2007; more than 5,000 similar claims have been filed.

In his decision, the special master, George L. Hastings Jr., ruled that the government’s expert witnesses were “far better qualified, far more experienced and far more persuasive” than the Cedillos’. Although the family had to show only that the preponderance of evidence was on their side, Mr. Hastings ruled that the evidence was “overwhelmingly contrary” to their argument.

While expressing “deep sympathy and admiration” for the family, he ruled that they had been “misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment.”

The judges considered 5,000 pages of testimony from experts and 939 medical articles.

This decision follows a report earlier this week that a researcher whose findings had given support to autism activists might have falsified--the word they used was "altered"--his evidence.

I have no doubt that it can be incredibly difficult to raise an autistic child, and I am familiar with the natural human drive to seek patterns and causes to phenomena. Unfortunately, for years the science has been clear that there is no basis to conclude that vaccines are the cause of autism. During that time, we have seen parents refuse to immunize their children, causing epidemics of measles and other extremely dangerous diseases even in the United States.

Although today's rulings will undoubtedly be challenged, we can hope that we are turning the corner and the anti-vaccine superstition will start to fade into history.

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Blogger Darlene said...

You know, I can't imagine the horror and the expense of having a child diagnosed with autism, and there's a piece of me that wonders: if we had universal health care and these parents were being bankrupt by trying to support their sick children, how many of these would be dropped?

Now, I'm not saying that these people are making dubious claims - it's possible that they are sincere in their beliefs...but isn't it also possible that many of them have been made so desperate by our current medical insurance system that they have little other recourse to survive?

February 16, 2009 12:04 PM  
Blogger Jack McCullough said...

Yeah, I don't doubt that they're sincere. It's just that the evidence doesn't support their claims. It's also clear that people who refuse to get their kids vaccinated are endangering the whole population, and causing epidemics of diseases, like measles, that were almost eradicated very recently.

February 17, 2009 7:36 AM  
Blogger Jack McCullough said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 17, 2009 7:36 AM  

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