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    Court Weighs Autism-Vaccine Link

    Perspective: Parents Sue Federal Government, but Do They Have a Case?

    Experts Say 'No' continued...

    The CDC says there is no evidence to suggest a link. The Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit, nongovernment organization, takes it one step further and says the MMR vaccine absolutely does not cause autism.

    Since 1999, when the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that thimerosal be taken out of vaccines as a precautionary measure, kids’ exposure to the preservative has dropped significantly.

    Thimerosal has been removed from or reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and younger. The exception is the flu vaccine. A preservative-free version of the flu vaccine (contains trace amounts of thimerosal) is available in limited supply for infants, children, and pregnant women.

    Some vaccines, such as the tetanus-diphtheria booster for older children and adults, are also available in formulations that are free of thimerosal or contain only trace amounts.

    If Not Thimerosal, Then What Causes Autism?

    The exact cause of autism is not known, but research has pointed to several possible factors, including genetics, certain types of infections, and problems occurring at birth.

    Recent studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism, meaning that a susceptibility to develop the condition may be passed on from parents to children.

    Researchers are looking for clues about which genes contribute to this increased vulnerability. In some children, environmental factors may also play a role. Studies of people with autism have found abnormalities in several regions of the brain, which suggest that autism results from a disruption of early brain development while still in utero.

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