A major court proceeding has begun in Washington, D.C., for thousands of parents who claim their children’s autism was triggered by vaccines.

The hearing is over the alleged connection, on which WND has reported, between a mercury-based vaccine preservative called thimerosal and the radical upswing in the number of autism cases in the U.S. If the 4,800 families with claims pending prevail, they would be entitled to compensation from a multi-billion dollar trust fund that has been set up.

The hearing in the federal court system is before three “special masters” and expected to run through the end of June.

Regardless of the trial’s outcome, an author of a book on the subject says there are some real precautionary actions concerned parents can take.

David Kirby

David Kirby, a veteran journalist, has written “Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and The Autism Epidemic, A Medical Controversy,” which describes the possible connection between the injection of vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal, a neurotoxic mercury, and the neurotoxic effects in a number of children.

The allegation is, according to Kirby, that the mercury in the vaccines, given to children at birth, and several times through the first year of their lives, is so toxic that there is a percentage of children whose small bodies are unable to get rid of it, so that it damages brain or other functions.

There also is a claim that the thimerosal affected some childrens’ immune system, so that when they later got the vaccination of measles, mumps and rubella, they actually were infected by the shot.

“Are either of those scientifically proven? No,” said Kirby. “But for any parent that’s concerned … there are a couple of things to keep in mind.”

He said parents can and probably should request vaccines and flu shots that contain no thimerosal. “No one is saying, ‘Don’t vaccinate your kids,'” Kirby told WND. “But if it’s going to make you feel more comfortable, find a pediatrician who will work with you. It is your child.”

He also said there are physicians now who will separate the MMR vaccinations because “we know now that one size does not fit all.” Broken-down individually, they are believed to pose less of a potential concern, he said.

Much of the thimerosal has been removed from children’s vaccines, but there still are trace amounts left over from the manufacturing process, he said. The preservative also remains in most modern-day flu shots.

Kirby said the larger picture is how contemporary U.S. society treats – and requires – vaccinations. “We now give 31 immunizations before 18 months of age,” he said. “We’re the only country to do that. And nobody’s ever really studied the cumulative effects of so many immunizations all at once.”

It appears, he said, certain genetic traits make children susceptible to the injuries from such vaccine ingredients. “For some people their genetic makeup is such that they will not be able to handle it,” he said. “We know vaccines can cause injuries. … One day we’ll learn which kids are more susceptible to injuries.”

He said the families who have made the claims, if they prevail, will deserve compensation for the injuries.

“This [vaccination program] was required. These parents were mandated to do this. It’s not like they were out there feeding them cheeseburgers,” he said.

“They wanted the very best for their children, and they did what they were told,” he said.

Similarly, an answer is needed to the following: “Does a newborn on day 1 need to be vaccinated against hepatitis B, or can that be postponed until the kid is 12 or 16?” he asked.

There are other potential complications, too, in managing a child’s exposure to toxins, even for the beneficial purposes of vaccines.

“Environmental background mercury, pesticides, other live viruses, flame retardants, so many toxins,” he said. “When they reach a certain level, whether it’s from vaccines, air, fish or the sheets, if a child is unable to excrete toxins, if those pathways get clogged, those toxins have a better chance of reaching their destination, such as the brain. That’s what mercury does.”

“What I do know is that there is compelling scientific evidence – generated at schools like Harvard, Columbia, Northeastern and the University of Washington, and published in major peer-reviewed journals – that support the allegation that the injection of neurotoxic mercury did in fact cause a neurotoxic effect in a small subset of children,” he said.

Reported autism cases among American children began increasing in the 1990s, from about one in 10,000 in 1987 to a “shocking” one in 166 today, a rise apparently in accompaniment to the rising use of the preservative in vaccines.

Thimerosal was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the 1930s as a vaccine preservative, but never tested again later.

If the judges rule in favor of the families, they would be entitled to compensation from a special fund created by a tax of 75 cents per vaccine.

Kirby has written extensively for “The New York Times” and has covered public health for the publication. He also has written for a number of national magazines, and was foreign correspondent in Mexico and Central American from 1986-1990.

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