The tragic case of 12 year old Michelle Cedillo has brought the question of whether certain vaccines can cause autism to the forefront of American health discussions.Michelle’s parents allege that a vaccine she received contained thimerosal, a preservative which weakened her immune system and prevented her body from clearing the measles virus.Today, Michelle suffers from severe autism, inflammatory bowel disease, glaucoma, and epilepsy.Her family has filed suit in federal court in Arizona.
Thimerosal is a form of mercury that is used as a preservative in vaccine doses.While large doses of mercury are harmful to human neurodevelopment, trace amounts are not.In fact, a Danish study in 1992 found that when thimerosal was removed from vaccines autism rates actually rose.
Since 1999, more than 4,800 families have filed similar lawsuits claiming that a routine vaccination has resulted in their child developing autism.However, to date, no clinical study has been able to conclusively establish a link between the two.
According to WebMD, vaccinations prevent 33,000 deaths and 14 million illnesses each year.They also result in a direct medical savings of $9.9 billion and a societal savings of $43 billion.
For each available vaccine, the Center for Disease Control provides a vaccine information statement, which details the possible harmful side effects of the vaccination.
For a copy of the standard childhood immunization schedule, click here.
For copies of the vaccine information statements for each of the following diseases, follow the links: