Ask someone to prove a link between vaccinations and autism and they can't do it. But a Tyler attorney is one of a handful nationwide who believe, within a year's time, as a team, they'll be able to draw that link. So far, about 20 East Texas families have joined this legal investigation. "In years past, the number of children diagnosed with autism was something in the neighborhood of 3 in 10-thousand. In the past decade, the number of children diagnosed with autism has reached as many 40 in 10-thousand." Tyler attorney, Randy Roberts is among a handful of lawyers around the country looking at a possible link between autism and vaccines...specifically, a kind of mercury called Thimerosol found in vaccines. "As i sit here today, I can't prove that autism in anybody was caused by the mercury in vaccines," Roberts says. "But there is a growing body of evidence linking certain types of autisms to mercury in vaccines." Mercury has long been linked to brain damage. That's why we work so hard to keep it out of our water supply. But in very small doses, it's widely considered safe...safe enough that, since the 1930s, it's been used as a preservative in almost every vaccine. "The problem is, in the past decade, the number of vaccines available for children, and the number of doses that the drug manufacturers have been recommending for each vaccine for children, has exploded," says Roberts. "And it's the cumulative effect of the total amount of mercury in all the vaccines that have been given to children that is being investigated." Medical researchers are all over this too...but with little to show for. "The Institute of Medicine report on the connection between autism and vaccines really showed an absence of proof that there was a connection. Absence of proof is not proof of absence," says Pharmacologist Candace Pert. That lack of evidence may give the appearance health officials are dragging their feet on this. Not true they say. They're just weighing their options. "We certainly know these vaccines have been proven to be exceptionally valuable. They have clearly changed the way children have grown up without these types of diseases," says Med Team Dr. Ed Dominguez. "Measles, mumps, polio...which clear have long term devastating effects, if we're going to change it...I think we have to have strong evidence to show us there's something definitely wrong." Randy Roberts thinks he can produce that evidence in a year's time, ultimately targeting, not your pediatrician, but the makers of Thimerosol and the vaccines--both for damages and to get them to stop putting mercury in the shots. In the meantime, what's a parent to do? Some shots are required by law. "My advice to every parent is to get those vaccines that are necessary to go to school," says Dominguez. "After that, the ones that are more elective, talk to your doctor about." Roberts says there is a profile most of his clients are fitting into. Typically they're progressing normally until about age 1 or two--about the time, he says, when they start getting the bulk of their shots. Typically they're boys. And they seem to be from more affluent families. Roberts says that may be because they have good insurance coverage, allowing them to get every shot available. The National Institutes of Health expects to have a definitive answer on this possible link in 2 years. In the meantime, there are new Thimerosal-free vaccines. But most on the shelves now, still contain the mercury.