"How is this possible? How do they explain ALL of the parents around the country whose kids were perfectly fine one day and then began showing signs of autism immediately after vaccination?"

This was a sentiment that I overheard last week in a discussion between two moms in the checkout line at the grocery store. I asked if they were referring to last Friday's ruling in a federal court that autism is not caused by thimerosal. They were, and they were completely baffled that the court could have made such a ruling.

Friday's ruling didn't come as a complete surprise. In fact, it followed a parallel ruling in 2009 that autism is not caused by the combination of vaccines with thimerosal and other vaccines. Still, just because the court's agreed, doesn't mean that parents did. I set about to try to explain the discrepancy and found answers from two of my fellow green moms.

Deanna Duke (aka Crunchy Chicken) agrees with the court's ruling, but suggests that we need to look beyond vaccines to the chemical body burden that may play a role in the development of autism. Read what she has to say:

As a parent of a child on the spectrum, I'm strongly in support of the ruling. No study has yet shown a link to thimerosal, many parents mistake correlation with causation. That said, that doesn't mean that there isn't some sort of excessive immuno response that is triggered in susceptible kids by vaccines, there just isn't any science behind it and, if that's the case, we don't know what exactly is causing it.

I think we would be far better along looking at both the genetic component and the impact of other toxins in the environment. It could be that since these kids' body burden of chemicals is already high, even at birth, coupled with genetics, that they are overwhelmed by vaccinations. Or the vaccinations have nothing to do with it? It's a complicated combination of chemistry and, unfortunately, little research has been done. I think we need to stop focusing on thimerosal and start looking at other potential causes, vaccines or otherwise. All that said, I'm pro vax.

Tiffany Waschko (Nature Moms Blog) agrees that there is no link between autism and thimerosal, but still cautions that there are other reasons to be concerned about vaccination:
I have long thought that we need to stop tying thimerosal to autism mostly because it has been removed from many vaccines but autism rates have not dropped. IMO it is the whole chemical cocktail that are vaccines along with immune supressed children that cause autism. The fact that they are born with hundreds of toxins in their bloodstream already may make autism all the more likely. Then we dose them dozens of times with disease strains and more toxins. I am very anti-vax though. My oldest son had a confirmed (by a neurologist) reaction to a vaccine that caused respiratory arrest and a seizure. The seizure caused brain damage and autism-like syptoms and he ended up with epilepsy ... all because I chose to play russian roulette and vaccinate him. It kind of peeves me when people in general harp on thimerosal or even vaccine induced autism because there are other horrors that lurk at the end of that needle too.
So it seems that many (though probably not all) parents agree with the court's ruling, but also agree that this is not the end to the vaccination debate. There is still cause for concern ... about vaccination and about chemicals in the environment, and their possible combined roles in the development of autism and other childhood developmental disorders.

So maybe it's time to stop focusing on thimerosal and start taking a broader look at the chemical environment our kids are growing up in.

What say you? Were you surprised by last Friday's court ruling? Did it change your stance on vaccination? Come on, I know you've got thoughts on this one. Let's hear it ...

Parents respond to vaccine rulings
The courts agree that thimerosal is not linked to autism ... but do parents?