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Parents react to court ruling on autism

Author John Thompson
Submitted 14-02-2009

It is one of the more controversial health topics faced by parents in recent years – whether or not common childhood vaccines cause autism.

On Thursday, a special court ruled that three families with autistic children could not receive damages from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program because they had not sufficiently proved the link.

Some fathers and mothers reported relief following the decision, saying that too much focus has been placed on vaccines as the root of the condition.

"We’re ready for them to get on with real research like educational strategies and help for kids," Amanda Guyton, the mother of an autistic son, told CNN.com.

However, others expressed deep disappointment at the decision. Father Gary Troutman told the Chicago Post-Tribune it was "a blow."

"If you go back to the history of the tobacco industry, it’s the same stuff we’re going through now," he said, referring to the historic reluctance of the courts to recognize the health danger posed by cigarettes.

More than 5,500 families with autistic children have filed lawsuits claiming that measles, mumps and rubella shots or vaccines containing a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal are responsible for their kids’ conditions.

Meanwhile, pediatricians and other health practitioners continue to give parenting advice stating that the shots are completely safe.