A vaccine court, a special branch of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, has ruled there is no link between autism and vaccines.
The decision comes after a long and intense debate over whether vaccines with the preservative thimerisol could cause autism.
Friday's ruling affects millions of Americans with children who have autism.
More than 5,000 parents made their case for a connection between the drug and their children's condition including Rebecca Estepp of the Coalition for Vaccine Safety.
"I was disappointed but not surprised," said Estepp whose 12-year-old son has autism. "Vaccine court is a system where government attorneys defend a government program, using government-funded science, decided by government judges. I don't think these children had much of a chance."
However, one pediatrician said the ruling should bring comfort to parents and that doctors can now begin to focus their attention on the real cause of autism.
The vaccine court was established in 1986 after vaccine-makers were hit with numerous liability suits that threatened their ability to continue producing the medicines.