As parents, how many of you worry about vaccinating your baby due to fears related to autism? Over the past 10 years, there has been a sharp decline in infant immunizations, and unfortunately, there has also been an evident increase in disease outbreaks, all due to concerns about a relationship between child vaccinations and autism. The small study that sparked all of the fear and concern has now been debunked. The study suggested that there was a connection between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. However, in January 2011, the British Medical Journal revealed that the study was flawed and described how the head researcher actually fabricated evidence to confirm the results of his study. He subsequently lost his medical license. In fact, research that has taken place since the original study has not been able to confirm a connection between the MMR and autism.

Yet, many parents continue to be skeptical, especially those who already have one child diagnosed with autism, and there are alternatives to not vaccinating at all. Pediatrician, Robert Sears, MD, outlines two alternatives to the traditional vaccine schedule in his book The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. The “Selective Vaccine Schedule” omits particular vaccines, while the “Alternative Vaccine Schedule” stretches out the traditional one. Still, a recent article in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, disputes many of Dr. Sears’ opinions and the AAP continues to recommend the traditional vaccine schedule.

What to do? That’s an extremely difficult question. First and foremost, do your research. Then, consult with your pediatrician. Obviously, as a parent, it is important to take an active role in making vaccination decisions, and by working closely with your pediatrician, together you can decide what is in the best interest of your child.