A special court recently ruled against three families who claimed that childhood vaccinations contributed to their children’s autism. The families had requested compensation from the federal vaccine injury fund, which was established to compensate injuries incurred through mandatory vaccinations, after their children developed autism following routine measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations. However, the court, which was set up to decide cases related to vaccine safety, determined that the families had not proven that the vaccines were linked to autism. Both sides in the debate have been awaiting decisions in these test cases since hearings began in 2007; more than 5,000 similar claims have been filed.

According to an article in the New York Times, the special master, who serves as the judge in the vaccine tribunal, reviewed 5,000 pages of testimony and more than 900 medical articles before arriving at his conclusion. The special master found that, in this case, the families had been “misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment.” The American Academy of Pediatrics, which opposed the families’ claims, hailed the decision, while Autism Speaks, an organization that provides funding for autism research, called for further investigation into the allegations.