MedicalThe Omnibus Autism Proceeding began in 2002 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims after parents of Autistic children began filing petitions for compensation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in 2001. Those parents alleged that their children developed the neurodevelopmental disorder of autism because of childhood vaccinations. In particular, the parents alleged that the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccinations, thimerosal ingredient contained in vaccinations, or a combination of those two contributed to the onset of autism. Overall, 5,000 families with autistic children filed for compensation but the same three federal judges have ruled twice that thimerosal, the active ingredient in vaccinations, does not cause autism based on three test cases that showed the strongest evidence.

However, the family of Hannah Poling recently became the first to win a court award after alleging that the vaccinations that Hannah received as an infant resulted in her autism. According to Hannah’s parents, the now nine-year-old was a happy, normal, and precocious child until she received a slew of vaccinations when she was 18 months old. In 2000 Hannah received nine vaccinations total to protect her against measles, mumps, rubella, polio, varicella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and Haemophilus influenzae. As a result, her health declined rapidly and the young child refused to eat, experienced high fevers, didn’t respond when spoken to, and threw screaming fits. Hannah’s parents filed their lawsuit against the government along with the thousands of other concerned parents in 2002. Hannah’s case was settled before trial but it has taken more than two years for both sides to agree on how much Hannah will be compensated for her injuries.

According to their statement, the government acknowleged Hannah’s injuries and admitted that the vaccinations she received aggravated an unknown mitochondrial disorder. However, they maintained their previous position that the vaccinations did not “cause” Hannah’s autism, but rather “resulted” in her autism because of the exacerbating effects on her mitochondrial condition. It is unknown how many other children have unknown mitochondrial conditions that also could have been affected by vaccinations. Approximately 4,800 other autism-vaccination cases are awaiting disposition in federal vaccine court. While the government refuses to admit to an autism-vaccination link, TIME magazine raised a relevant point in their comment on the Poling case:

…(T)here’s no denying that the court’s decision to award damages to the Poling family puts a chink — a question mark — in what had been an unqualified defense of vaccine safety with regard to autism. If Hannah Poling had an underlying condition that made her vulnerable to being harmed by vaccines, it stands to reason that other children might also have such vulnerabilities.”

Hannah received $1.5 million in court awards for her life care, pain and suffering, and lost earnings plus an additional $500,000 per year to pay for her lifetime care.