Q. In the new TV show, "Eli Stone" (on January 31) a fictional court case suggests that a vaccine caused a child's autism. Is there any truth to this?
A. No. The key words to remember here are "fictional" and "TV." The court case on the show isn't based on reality. Numerous studies -- including a recent, large study in the New England Journal of Medicine -- have shown that there's no link between autism and the mercury preservative that was once used in childhood vaccines. What's more, the mercury preservative (called thimerosal) hasn't even been used in the making of any childhood vaccines in this country (with the exception of some flu vaccines) since 2001, yet cases of autism are still on the rise.
In response to this "Eli Stone" episode, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statement: "A television show that perpetuates the myth that vaccines cause autism is the height of reckless irresponsibility...The consequences of a decline in immunization rates could be devastating to the health of our nation's children."
Bottom line: Don't let a fictional TV show guide the health decisions you make for your children.
IN THE NEWS: The federal government has agreed to compensate Hannah Poling and her family for her vaccine-related injury, in which a mercury preservative from a vaccine aggravated her existing disorder of the mitochondria. However, the Polings' lawyer, Cliff Shoemaker, says in this CNN article that his clients are not opposed to vaccines altogether. "What we are all in favor of is safe vaccines," he says.