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Autism and vaccines

While you can’t control the genes your child inherits, or shield him or her from every environmental danger, there is one very important thing you can do to protect the health of your child: make sure he or she is vaccinated on schedule.

Despite a lot of controversy on the topic, scientific research does not support the theory that vaccines or their ingredients cause autism. Five major epidemiologic studies conducted in the U.S., the UK, Sweden, and Denmark, found that children who received vaccines did not have higher rates of autism. Additionally, a major safety review by the Institute of Medicine failed to find any evidence supporting the connection. Other organizations that have concluded that vaccines are not associated with autism include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Myths and facts about childhood vaccinations

Myth: Vaccines aren’t necessary.

Fact: Vaccines protect your child from many serious and potentially deadly diseases, including measles, meningitis, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. These diseases are uncommon today because vaccines are doing their job. But the bacteria and viruses that cause these diseases still exist and can be passed on to children who aren’t immunized.

Myth: Vaccines cause autism.

Fact: Despite extensive research and safety studies, scientists and doctors have not found a link between childhood vaccinations and autism or other developmental problems. Children who are not vaccinated do not have lower rates of autism spectrum disorders.

Myth: Vaccines are given too early.

Fact: Early vaccination protects your child from serious diseases that are most likely to occur—and most dangerous—in babies. Waiting to immunize your baby puts him or her at risk. The recommended vaccination schedule is designed to work best with children’s immune systems at specific ages. A different schedule may not offer the same protection.

Myth: Too many vaccines are given at once.

Fact: You may have heard theories that the recommended vaccine schedule overloads young children’s immune systems and may even cause autism. But research shows that spacing out vaccinations doesn’t improve children’s health or lower their risk of autism, and as noted above, actually puts them at risk for potentially fatal diseases.

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