Families with autistic children sue national manufacturers

BOSTON — Two Massachusetts families have filed lawsuits against the major vaccine makers, claiming that the companies’ use of a controversial preservative caused their children’s autism.

In the suit filed in Middlesex Superior Court against Aventis Pasteur and several other vaccine manufacturers, the families allege that the children ”were poisoned with toxic mercury.” The mercury is contained in the preservative thimersol.

The Boston Globe reported Saturday that this suit is the second of at least 15 suits being prepared by a team of lawyers from Medford and Portland Ore. Attorney Robert Bonsignore is leading the team in the dispute over whether the widely used thimersol causes neurological diseases in children.

”No one can tell you what caused the autism,” said Michael Chmura of Waltham. ”But you find out you’re injecting poison into your kid’s bloodstream, the same poison they tell you not to give them via tuna fish.”

Chmura’s 4-year-old autistic son, Evan is a plaintiff in the case.

Thimersol is used in a number of childhood vaccines for everything from hepatitis B to diptheria/tetanus. The Food and Drug Administration has long asserted that the vaccines were safe.

”Certainly mercury is not good for you, but at the concentrations that were present in the vaccines, there’s no indication that they were harmful,” said Dr. William Egan, deputy director of the vaccine office at the FDA.

But several studies are underway to investigate the possible connection between the vaccines and autism.

Autism is a permanent neurological disorder where children may have difficulty communicating or become obsessed with repetitive motions, such as head rolling. They also may have learning difficulties.

There is no cure for the neurological disorder.

Recently the American Academy of Pediatricians has recently advocated phasing out use of the preservative.

Neurological disorders have risen steadily with the rise in the number of new vaccines given to children at earlier agesm according to the Globe.

The families filing the suit are seeking money for their children’s medical care as well as punitive damages.

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