Thursday, May 15, 2008

Court to Hear Families on Vaccine-Autism Link

Hungry lawyers at work

For the second time this year, families claiming that vaccinations triggered autism in their young children will head to a federal court to determine whether they are eligible to collect damages from the government. The case, which begins today, offers two 10-year-old boys from Portland, Ore. - William Mead and Jordan King - as test cases for the theory that thimerosal-containing vaccines, on their own, cause autism.

Lawyers for these families maintain that the boys were developing normally until they were exposed to vaccines containing thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury. After receiving these vaccinations, the attorneys say, the boys began to show symptoms of autism - a developmental disability characterized by difficulty in communicating and interacting with others.

The theory that thimerosal is singularly culpable in bringing about autism is only one of three upon which courts will decide. In 2007, hearings were conducted in three test cases intended to examine whether the combination of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines containing thimerosal cause autism. And later this year, attorneys will present four more test cases to determine whether MMR vaccines, regardless of whether or not they contain thimerosal, may bring about the condition.

Each of these theories challenge the position held by the mainstream medical community that vaccines, whether they contain thimerosal or not, do not cause autism - a position that a majority of scientific studies support. In 2004, a panel convened by the Institute of Medicine concluded there was no credible evidence that the thimerosal in vaccines led to autism. Still, since 2001, the ingredient has been removed from most vaccines, save for certain influenza shots, in response to autism fears.

Still, attorneys for the families involved need only show that it is more likely than not that thimerosal-containing vaccines caused the boys' injuries. If successful, the families could receive compensation for past and future medical expenses, special education expenses and up to $250,000 for pain and suffering, among other monies. The final decision, which could take up to several months to arrive, may be appealed by either the families or the federal government.

More here

Study links air pollution, blood clots in veins

The usual old epidemiological nonsense. The possibility of a common cause for the correlated phenomena -- such as poverty -- is not looked at

Air pollution heavy in small particles may cause blood clots in the legs, the same condition air travelers call "economy class syndrome" from immobility during flight, researchers said on Monday. Dr. Andrea Baccarelli of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and colleagues said they found the link after looking at 870 people in Italy who had developed deep vein thrombosis between 1995 and 2005.

When compared with 1,210 others living in the same region who did not have the problem, they found that for every increase in particulate matter of 10 micrograms per square meter the previous year, the risk of deep vein thrombosis increased by 70 percent.

On top of that, the blood of those with higher levels of exposure to particulate matter was quicker to clot when tested at a clinic, they reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Air pollution from automobiles and industry can contain tiny particles of carbon, nitrates, metals and other materials that have been linked over the years to a variety of health problems.

While lung diseases were an initial concern, later research has indicated it may cause heart disease and stroke, possibly because it increases the rate at which blood can coagulate, Baccarelli and colleagues said.

Until now particulate pollution had not been linked to blood clots in the veins. The mechanism that causes problems for some air travelers is related not to the blood itself but to impaired circulation when sitting in one place without exercise for long periods of time.

The findings introduce a new and common risk for deep vein thrombosis, the researchers said and "give further substance to the call for tighter standards and continued efforts aimed at reducing the impact of urban air pollutants on human health." In a commentary, Dr. Robert Brook of the of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor said if the findings are proven by additional research it may turn out that "the actual totality of the health burden posed by air pollution, already known to be tremendous, may be even greater than ever anticipated." [And it might not]


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