13-year old Michelle Cedillo is at the center of a court case pitting thousands of families of children with autism against the medical establishment. While a number of prestigious medical institutions say there is no link between vaccines and autism, the families believe vaccines caused their children's autism, and have taken their case to court.
Theresa and Mike Cedillo, Michelle's parents, believe the MMR vaccine, which at the time contained a mercury-based preservative, drastically altered the course of their daughter's development. Within days of receiving the injection, Michelle suffered from a high fever, persistent vomiting and problems with her digestion -- and also stopped speaking and no longer responded to her name.
Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, claims the apparent connection between vaccines and autism is “nothing more than a sad coincidence.”
But families who believe vaccines can trigger autism point to the case of 9-year-old Hannah Poling; the U.S. government conceded that vaccines "significantly aggravated" her underlying illness, predisposing her to symptoms of autism.
The court heard testimony in the Cedillo claim in June of 2007. Testimony in other test cases is scheduled for 2008.
* CNN.com April 2, 2008