Mercury-Autism Link Receiving More Attention; Court Case May Set Precedents

The potential link between environmental mercury and other neurotoxins and autism is receiving greater attention, in light of the Federal Court case now going on in Washington, D.C.  As Jaffe Legal News reports, the lawsuit involves a 12-year-old autistic girl whose parents claim that she was poisoned by the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, used to reduce the risk of endotoxin contamination in vaccines. If the family wins this suit, there could be nearly 5,000 other cases heard across the country, many of which may lead to settlements and large compensation amounts, up to just over $1 million per injured child, according to Jerry Roscoe, a mediator with JAMS (Washington, D.C.) who was quoted by Jaffe.   "Parents, drug companies, politicians, health care providers and school districts are watching this case, as its outcome could bring a windfall of cases, settlements and compensation to claimants nationwide. While there is has been no proof to date that autism is linked to vaccines containing mercury, including some flu shots, this case will bring even greater attention to the potential link," Roscoe said. Last year, the government paid out $38.2 million in 47 cases as part of the  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' no-fault National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, meant to compensate those who can prove that they experienced adverse reactions to vaccines, Jaffe reports. "Vaccine related injury disputes lend themselves to a collaborative effort. The mediation process takes months versus many years in the traditional tort system," Roscoe says. To date, official research has not supported any link between the use of thimerosol in vaccines and autism. The New Scientist just published an excellent article on the subject and on the potential risks of chelation therapy today. But media attention is moving beyond thimerosol to the issue of environmental toxins---small concentrations of mercury and other neurotoxins and whether they may be having an impact.  David Kirby discussed this issue, autism in New Jersey, and a puzzling pattern of teachers in one small northern New Jersey school giving birth to autistic children, in Huffington Post today.  This is a complex issue.Is there truly an "autism epidemic" or are we now more sensitized to the much subtler forms of autism than we used to be? But clearly much more research needs to be done. -AMS