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Will Vaccinations Cause Autism In My Child?

Why does this decline disturb them so much? In the past, the diseases covered by the vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella) have had devastating effects on the health of both children and adults in the United States and elsewhere. In addition to causing severe discomfort, permanent scarring, and deafness, these diseases can, and do, kill. Nowadays, most people in the U.S. will never meet a child who has had any of these three diseases, because routine vaccinations have nearly eradicated them here. But just 50 years ago, measles was one of the most common childhood diseases. And it only takes one case to start up another epidemic.

Though measles, mumps, and rubella are almost unheard of in the U.S., that is not the case in many other countries. People coming into the U.S. can carry the diseases with them across the border, and infect those people who aren't vaccinated. In fact, such an outbreak of mumps occurred in the Midwest in 2005. Giving your child the MMR vaccine is a wise precaution.

The MMR isn't the only vaccine that has made headlines. One major concern that surfaced before 2001 was the fact that some vaccines (although not the MMR) contained thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that was also believed to be tied to autism. However, the CDC has stated that thimerosal does not pose a threat to children, since it contains a type of mercury that the human body can eliminate much more quickly than the type of mercury contained in, say, tuna. The CDC also claims that thimerosal is not linked to autism. Still, since 2001, thimerosal has not been used in vaccines routinely given to children, with the exception of some flu vaccines. And even with the flu vaccine, you can ask your doctor to use a thimerosal-free version.

So the question for you as a parent is this: Is my child more at risk from the diseases that vaccines prevent, or from what some people say they cause -- autism? The CDC believes that your child is definitely more at risk from diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella than from autism due to vaccination. Is fear of autism a good enough reason to put your child at risk for those diseases? Each parent must answer this question for himself, but the CDC's website has information and links to outside resources that may help you to decide.

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