Autism Settlement Based on Special Circumstances
The government has agreed to compensate the family of a girl who claims a vaccine caused her autism, but the settlement is not precedent-setting because of the special circumstances surrounding the case, experts told the Associated Press.
The girl, Hannah Poling, now 9, received five vaccines when she was 18 months old. Almost immediately after, she was screaming and feverish, and then gradually her behavior changed, her parents said in a news conference yesterday. “Suddenly my daughter was no longer there,” said the girl’s mother, Terry, a lawyer and a nurse.
The girl will be paid out a federal vaccine-injury fund that has so far paid about 950 claims, none of them for autism, the Associated Press reported in an earlier story. Nearly 5,000 families who contend a vaccine preservative causes autism have cases pending before a special vaccine court, which has picked a test case to examine the link.
Some hailed the Polings’ settlement as a landmark, but the case is unusual because Hannah suffers from a disorder involving mitochondria, the energy sources of cells. Hannah’s parents contend the vaccines either aggravated the disorder or caused it. Most children with autism do not have mitochondrial disorders.
Julie Gerberding, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke with AP after the parents’ news conference. ”This does not represent anything other than a very special situation,” she said.