Court: No Link Between Autism and Vaccines

A federal appeals court has ruled that there's no link between autism and childhood vaccines.

A federal appeals court has ruled that there’s no link between autism and childhood vaccines.   Or, something like that:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has just upheld lower court findings that reject a causal connection between childhood vaccines and the onset of autism.

The ruling came in Cedillo v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, which was the first of a series of test cases heard by special masters for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in 2007. The claims court picked several such cases to test different theories of causation advanced in the roughly 5,000 cases alleging a link to autism filed under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

“We see no legal error in the standards applied by the special master” in determining there was no causal connection between the mercury-based preservative in the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine administered to Michelle Cedillo in 1995 and the autism and retardation symptoms she began to show afterward.The claims court upheld the special master’s findings last year, and the federal circuit decision today affirmed that ruling.

The pseudo-scientific belief that vaccines were tied to autism and other health problems has been around for a long time, causing untold parents to forgo immunizing their children.  This, in turn, has led to the return of diseases that had been relegated to developing world status decades ago.

It’s bizarre to see a medical question resolved in court rather than by a group of medical experts.  But this is America.

FILED UNDER: Health, Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael says:

    It’s bizarre to see a medical question resolved in court rather than by a group of medical experts. But this is America.

    I just hope it’ll make some parents decide that the very real risk of contagious disease is scarier than the anecdotal fear over a disorder we don’t know the cause of.

  2. sam says:

    “It’s bizarre to see a medical question resolved in court rather than by a group of medical experts.”
    The autism/vaccine arguments reminded me of nothing so much as the day-care/child rape hysteria that swept through the nation a number of years ago. Both are traceable, I think,  to feelings of guilt on the part of the parents. In the latter case, guilt over the turning over the care of their young children to third parties; in the former, guilt over the (unspoken) belief that they, the parents, had done something wrong, either via genetics or upbringing.  Externalizing a cause is a very common human trait.