Autism Claims Go To Court

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Thousands of families who allege that routine childhood vaccinations caused their children's autism are about to get their day in court.

The first of what eventually could be nine tests cases is the subject of a hearing that begins today in the U-S Court of Federal Claims in Washington. Three special masters appointed by the court will preside over the hearing, which is expected to continue through the end of June.

More than 48-hundred families have filed claims with the government over their children's autism. Many contend that a preservative called thimerosal (thy-MEHR'-uh-sahl) is to blame for the impaired social interaction that is typical of autism.

Studies have found no link between autism and vaccines containing thimerosal. The preservative is no longer used in routine childhood vaccines but is still used in some flu shots.

If the parents prevail in court, they would be entitled to compensation from a multi-(b) billion dollar trust fund.

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