Thursday, February 12, 2009

One, two, three strikes you're out at the Autism Omnibus

As is being reported by everyone and their brother today, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims has ruled in the first three test cases of the autism omnibus. The court firmly rejected the theory that vaccines had anything to do with autism - or more specifically they said that the petitioners failed to prove their case.

There have been statements released from autism organizations such as Autism Speaks, TACA, and Safe Minds.

There has been coverage from blogs such as Age of Autism, WSJ Health blog, neurodiversity, a double dose from Left Brain Right Brain, and many others.

There has been coverage from the mainstream media at CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, and many more.

I actually read through the 183 page ruling the in Cedillo case by Special Master Hastings. It is an interesting read and he takes you step by step through his decision process. One thing that stood out to me was the fact that seemingly at every turn he rejected the petitioners' theories and accepted the government's. In the entire document the only witness for the petitioners that he seemed to give any credibility to was the mother of the child.

I am left with the impression that the special master believes that the petitioners did a horrible job and failed to prove a single point. He makes his opinion of the medical evidence abundantly clear in his conclusion:

After studying the extensive evidence in this case for many months, I am convinced that the reports and advice given to the Cedillos by Dr. Krigsman and some other physicians, advising the Cedillos that there is a causal connection between Michelle’s MMR vaccination and her chronic conditions, have been very wrong. Unfortunately, the Cedillos have been misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment

I did not read the other opinions but I would suspect that they have a similar tone.

I would have been very surprised if the cases had been decided in the favor of the petitioners. The cost of such a decision would have made President Obama's stimulus package look small and the damage that would instantly be done to the vaccine program in this country would have been catastrophic. If there were a ruling that autism was linked to vaccines would you vaccinate your child?

So in that regard the rulings are not a surprise. I just did not expect the complete rejection of every single argument. Especially since we are talking about a condition that we don't know why is happens or what causes it or even if the rate of it is increasing (my money is on it increasing).

I think the special masters wanted to ensure that this theory does not have any legs left to stand on so as to restore confidence in the vaccine program.

I just sincerely hope that they are right.

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