A US court rejected a lawsuit by three families seeking monetary compensation for their children's autism, which they claim was caused by routine vaccinations.
The plaintiffs alleged that the children developed symptoms of autism after being administered standard childhood vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
The parents' assertion, long disputed by many mainstream physicians and scientists, but a theory which nevertheless has gained currency in certain circles, is that a causal link exists between autism and the vaccines.
Specifically, they pointed to the presence in the vaccines of a preservative, thimerosal, an inorganic mercury compound used in some pharmaceutical products to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination.
The case was rejected however in the US Court of Federal Claims, which on Thursday found that the "combination of the thimerosal-containing vaccines and the MMR vaccine not causal factors in the development of autism."
The ruling is the latest in several legal setbacks for the family, which have been suing for compensation for several years.
Their attorney for one of the families, Curtis Webb, said the plaintiffs were "disappointed" by the finding.