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By Callie Snow

Vaccinations linked to autism?

There are many "articles" floating around the web these days and being shared on social media convincing people that autism is caused by vaccinations. Unfortunately, a good majority of people will continue to share this so-called "proof" without reading the article or verifying the source. Once upon a time, I was probably one of those people. You know how it is, you catch a glance at a headline connected to a link and just like that it gets 10-million shares. For the people who do read more than just a headline, I would like to set the record straight.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control have found no real connection between vaccinations and autism. That doesn't mean that autism is 100 percent not caused or affected by vaccinations. It simply means that there is no proof or evidence linking the two. Many parents have noted their children regressing after vaccinations and "developing autism." Researchers believe this is simply a coincidence. Vaccinations happen to be administered around the same ages that autism starts to become noticeable. You may have wondered why your pediatrician insists on asking you the same developmental questions every time you go in for a visit. Tracking your baby's development isn't just about bragging rights. The smallest thing to you may be the biggest indicator that something isn't right.

Autism rates in the United States have been on the rise for more than a decade. There is a great deal of debate as to why. Are there that many more children now than there were 20 years ago with autism? Or are we, as parents and doctors, just that much more aware of autism now, making it more commonly diagnosed? Questions such as that are leading people to search for a cause, which is where the vaccinations come into play. Do we really know what we are injecting into our children's bodies? Should we be more aware? Or at the end of the day is it worth the risk?

There is a lot of concern revolving around vaccinations nowadays, and I am by no means an expert. I am, however, a mother a special needs child who has global developmental delays, and wasn't diagnosed with autism initially. But my point in disclosing that is to show some of the naysayers that doctors aren't just going around handing out an autism diagnosis to every child who seems to be a little behind.

I know that my son is autistic, and sure there is that little part of me that hopes they were wrong and he will fully catch up. But at the end of the day, I know he will be just fine. It won't be easy or simple, but he is still a happy and healthy little boy. And as far the vaccinations that many believe are causing an epidemic, my children will continue to receive them. But that is each parent's decision. But be informed. Don't jump on the trend of not vaccinating your children just because of social media opinions. Do your research and be well informed!

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