Nearly 8 years after the government asked vaccine makers to reduce the use of a preservative that contains mercury, hearings began today to probe the connection between autism and childhood vaccines. If the U.S. Court of Federal Claims finds a link, the plaintiffs could qualify for compensation through a government trust fund—but many parents are equally interested in vindication.
"These are families who followed the rules," said the lawyer for the first family to appear before the obscure court, which requires only that the plaintiffs show the link is more likely than not to secure a ruling in their favor. The government argues that research has shown no connection between autism and the preservative thimerosal, which contains mercury. (Read more autism stories.)