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Parents lose court case in vaccine-autism debate

by Adam Russett on February 23, 2011

Many families have been concerned about the possible side effects that vaccinations may have on children's health. One family, Robalee and Russell Bruesewitz, accused drugmaker Wyeth that their vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis caused their daughter, Hannah, to develop health problems, according to The Associated Press.

The parents claimed that their child, Hannah, suffered a series of seizures after receiving one of these shots. She had previously been healthy, but they believe she developed autism due to the medication. Their case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, who ruled in favor of the drug companies on Tuesday.

This occurred after a federal trial judge and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had already come to the same verdict. The news source reports that this is hardly different from normal cases, as most courts always rule in favor of the industry.

Members of the American Academy of Pediatrics praised the decision, because of the importance that vaccinations have for the health of American children.

"Childhood vaccines are among the greatest medical breakthroughs of the last century," Dr. Marion Burton, the group's president, told the news source. "[Tuesday's] Supreme Court decision protects children by strengthening our national immunization system and ensuring that vaccines will continue to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in this country."

However, it appears that Wyeth may have simply gotten lucky this time. The special vaccine court, which handles similar cases, has paid more than $1.9 billion to around 2,500 people who have said that vaccinations have caused serious health problems.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor, 6-2. One of the dissenting voices was liberal judge Sonia Sotomayor, who suggests that the case of the Brueswitzs provides some evidence that vaccines harm children, according to Bnet.com.

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