Vaccines do not cause autism; they save lives

The scientific debate over whether vaccines can cause autism spectrum disorder is over. Vaccines save lives, and there is no evidence they cause autism.

THE hope, love and anxiety that welcomes a baby into the world is a familiar story experienced by every generation. Our grandparents may have feared their baby would die of a childhood disease that is now preventable. Mothers and fathers today have a particularly modern fear that their parents probably never considered: Will my baby have autism?

Current estimates are that the parents of one in 68 infants will discover, in the first few years of life, differences in their child’s development that signify the early signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The symptoms — challenges with communication, poor social engagement with people, unusual interests or repetitive movements — emerge at the same time new parents are learning to navigate the unfamiliar territory of caring for a young child. Parents may feel overwhelmed, sifting through piles of contradictory advice to ensure they have the most up-to-date information available to raise a healthy, happy child.

However, some decisions a new parent faces should not be difficult:

Autism and vaccines

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• We know beyond a doubt that immunizations prevent serious, even fatal, childhood illnesses.

• There is no scientific evidence that immunizations cause autism.

Measles, a serious disease that can cause hearing loss and swelling of the brain that leads to intellectual disability, is still a primary cause of vaccine-preventable death for children in many parts of the world. Before 1963, measles used to affect 3 million to 4 million U.S. children every year. By the year 2000, measles was considered eradicated in our country — a true public-health victory.

Measles outbreaks are recurring throughout the U.S. This year the Centers for…

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