It was a debate that had been put to rest. Or so we thought.


Almost two years ago, a federal court in the United States upheld a ruling that vaccines are not to blame for autism. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the decision that there is little if any evidence to support claims of a link between vaccines and autism. New evidence continued to deliver blow after blow to the original theory until the researcher who initially blew the whistle on the supposed link between vaccines and autism was declared a fraud.


The debate appeared to be over — until now.


In a landmark ruling, an Italian court has awarded £140,000 (about $219,000 U.S.) to the parents of Valentino Bocca, stating that the boy's autism was caused by the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella that he received at 9 months old. Valentino's parents could be awarded an additional £800,000 ($1.2 million) as their case continues.


The crux of the case hinged on the testimony of Dr. Antonio Barboni, a forensic scientist appointed by the judge to independently advise the court. Barboni wrote a report saying that "in the absence of any other pre-existing conditions" it is a "reasonable scientific probability" that Valentino’s autism can be "traced back to the administration of the MMR vaccine ...  by the health authority." Barboni’s findings were endorsed by two other well-respected doctors who examined Valentino, evaluated his case history, and gave evidence to the court hearing. 


The case could set a precedent for many similar civil proceedings in Italy and around the world.


Italian court reignites contentious autism-vaccine debate
Landmark ruling in Italian case finds that autism was caused by vaccine.