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Mother Says Routine Vaccination Left Child With Autism

Aug 1, 2002 | WPLG

The safety of vaccines took center stage Wednesday in a Miami courtroom as a Miami family went to court to try to prove that mercury in their son's vaccines triggered his autism.

If the judge allows the case to be heard, some say it could open the door for thousands of lawsuits across the country.

One Child's Story
Aaron Blackburn, 6, is autistic. He used to sing with his mom and say his ABCs, but after his routine vaccinations at 18 months, his mom says everything changed.

"His lips were all white. His color was different. He was just like brain dead," Ellen Blackburn said.

Aaron stopped talking, making eye contact and became compulsive, according to his mother. The symptoms are those of autism. They are also symptoms of mercury poisoning, which leads some to believe that there is link between the mercury preservative called thimerosal, which is in vaccines, and the rise in autism.

"It's time that we stop and take a good look at what's in these vaccines because thimerasol should never have been in it in the first place," said Linda Demos, who son is autistic.

Demos is the first parent to file a negligence lawsuit against vaccine makers for adding mercury to their vaccines. Wednesday afternoon both side went to court.

"We're arguing that mercury never needed to be there. The vaccines were avoidably unsafe and the manufactures put it in there for a cost saving measure," said attorney Roberto Villasante.

But drug makers say the mercury was used in safe amounts. They argue that the lawsuit should be thrown out because something called the vaccine compensation act protects vaccine makers from injury lawsuits.

Parents like Ellen Blackburn are watching the legal fight closely and hoping for answers.

"There are so many autistic children today. We don't even have enough teachers and therapists trained enough to handle our children, and it's frustrating. Parents have to live with this every day and every day is a fight," Blackburn said.

The judge is considering both sides and will soon decide whether the case can be heard by a South Florida jury.

Also, concerns about thimerosal have prompted some vaccine makers to voluntarily remove the mercury compound as of March 2001, but nothing has been recalled.

Ask your pediatrician if you want to ensure that your child's inoculation does not contain mercury.

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