A group of parents and lawyers will be making an announcement today at noon, based on a research study which involved a review of the Vaccine Court's awards to brain-injured children. The original press release for this event states:
The investigators will be calling upon Congress to immediately investigate the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and plan to hold Congressional briefings.
I have been working to clarify precisely what the study found, and am still in process.
I did respond to Danielle Orsino, who sent out the press release, asking the question: Were there cases in which the vaccine court awarded a settlement for damage that manifested itself as the symptoms of an autism spectrum disorder? Was the term "autism" ever used to describe the outcome of vaccine damage (eg, "the child suffered from neurological damage resulting in autism")?
Danielle responded quickly, saying "The study strongly suggests a link between autism and vaccines. The study found that of those who had been compensated for brain damage due to vaccines, a much-higher-than-average number also had autism. The study makes an extremely strong case for the vaccine-autism connection, which is why the study's authors are urging Congress to investigate the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program."
This response seems to suggest that the simple answer to my question is "no."
This morning, however, Age of Autism printed the Executive Summary for the study, which includes the statement "This study found 83 cases of acknowledged vaccine-induced brain damage that include autism, a disorder that affects speech, social communication and behavior." This statement certainly seems to suggest that indeed the court DID acknowledge brain injury resulting in autism... The Age of Autism site also includes a link to the Pace Environmental Law Review where the article does not (as of 9:30 EDT) appear. I'm told that it will be placed on the front page of that site at noon today. [Note: the article was made available at the link above as of 10:30 this morning EDT.]
Seth Mnookin, author of the Panic Virus, has written several blog posts about this topic on the PlosBlogs site; one of those blogs suggests that the Pace findings are statistical sleight of hand: "Note that the language here is "the federal government [has] paid millions of dollars to vaccine-injured children with autism" and not "the federal government [has] paid millions of dollars to vaccine-injured children because of their autism." The federal government's vaccine-compensation fund has also paid lots of money to children who end up being left-handed -- but that doesn't mean that vaccines causes their left-handedness."
Hopefully, I'll have more information to share later today, pending a conversation with at least one of the folks who conducted this study. It seems that the precise content of the findings is not yet clear - and that in itself seems to be news!