The story

At 13, Michelle Cedillo can't speak, wears a diaper and requires round-the-clock monitoring in case she has a seizure. While her peers go to school or the mall or spend time with friends, the Yuma, Arizona, teenager remains at home, where she entertains herself with picture books and "Sesame Street" and "Blue's Clues" DVDs.

Michelle has no idea she is at the center of a court case pitting thousands of families of children with autism against the medical establishment. 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 they've taken their case to court.

"I think there is a link," says Theresa Cedillo, Michelle's mother.

Theresa and her husband, Mike, say their only child was a happy, engaged toddler who responded to her name, said "mommy" and "daddy" and was otherwise normal until she received a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at 15 months.

They believe the MMR vaccine, combined with a mercury-containing preservative found in that and other vaccines at the time, drastically altered the course of their daughter's development. Within days of receiving the injection as part of the normal course of vaccinations, Michelle suffered from a high fever, persistent vomiting and problems with her digestion. Worse still, her parents say, Michelle stopped speaking and no longer responded to her name. Read full article »

David S. Martin is a senior producer with CNN Medical News.

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