(Updated: February 12, 2009 at 4:34 PM CT)

Vaccines are not to blame for autism, a special court found Thursday in three cases.

Since 2001, more than 5,000 claims have been filed with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a fund for those injured by vaccinations, claiming a link between vaccines and autism. Three cases stemming from those claims were decided Thursday in a special court set up by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. As a result of the decisions, the plaintiffs will not be eligible for compensation from the fund.

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In order to obtain compensation, the claimants had to prove that it was more likely than not that cases of autism manifested from vaccines, the mercury-based preservative thimerosal or a combination of the two.

However, in ruling, the judges were clear that the claimants did not make their case, affirming years of scientific evidence discounting a connection between autism and vaccines, reports The Associated Press.

“It was abundantly clear that petitioners’ theories of causation were speculative and unpersuasive,” the court said.

The three cases all suggested a link between autism and the receipt of childhood vaccines. In one case the claim was that autism can be caused by vaccines containing the mercury-based preservative thimerosal. In another case, families claimed that just thimerosal can cause autism. And in the third case, claimants said that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine could cause autism whether or not it contains thimerosal, reports The New York Times. To read more click here.