Exclusively Breastfeeding for 6 months causes food allergies?

Kimberly - posted on 01/14/2011 ( 45 moms have responded )

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ARTICLE TAKEN FROM BBC.COM AND THE BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-1218005...

Weaning before six months 'may help breastfed babies'

Relying purely on breastfeeding for the first six months might not be best for babies, experts in the UK have warned.

In the British Medical Journal, the team said breastfed babies may benefit from being given solid food earlier.

Current advice suggests weaning should occur at six months, but the UCL team say it could happen as early as four.

They suggest later weaning may increase food allergies and iron deficiency levels, but other experts backed the existing guidance.

Ten years ago, the World Health Organization published global advice advocating babies be exclusively breastfed for six months.

The research team, led by Dr Mary Fewtrell a paediatrician from the University of London Institute of Child Health, said it supported the recommendation for developing countries, where access to clean water and safe weaning foods is limited, and there is a high risk of infant death and illness.

But they added: "Many western countries, including 65% of European member states and the US, elected not to follow this recommendation fully, if at all.

But in 2003, a health minister said the UK would comply.

Parents 'cannot win'
The WHO recommendation "rested largely" on a review of 16 studies, including seven from developing countries.

It concluded that babies just given breast milk for six months had fewer infections and experienced no growth problems.

But another review of 33 studies found "no compelling evidence" not to introduce solids at four to six months, the experts said.

Some research has also shown that six months of breastfeeding does not give babies all the nutrition they need.

A US 2007 study found there was an increased risk of anaemia compared with those introduced to solids at four to six months.

Swedish research also found that the incidence of early onset coeliac disease increased after a recommendation to delay introduction of gluten until age six months, but fell back after the recommendation reverted to four months.

Dr Alan Lucas, director of the Institute of Health, said: "The WHO recommendation is very sensible for developing countries.

"But in the UK, it's important we take a balanced look at the evidence."

Dr Fewtrell added: "When you look at the figures, there are a lot of babies being weaned before six months anyway - and that's probably the most important thing in terms of hard evidence."

'Inappropriate feeding'
But the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the National Childbirth Trust defended current advice.

And Janet Fyle, professional policy adviser at the Royal College of Midwives, said: "I really must challenge the suggestion that the UK should reconsider its current advice on exclusive breastfeeding for six months.

"I believe that this is a retrograde step and plays into the hands of the baby-food industry which has failed to support the six-month exclusive breastfeeding policy in the UK.

"There is evidence that some babies do die in developed countries from inappropriate young child feeding, such as the introduction of solid foods earlier before their swallowing mechanism is mature enough or they have fully developed the capability to cope with solid foods."

And a Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Breast milk provides all the nutrients a baby needs up to six months of age and we recommend exclusive breastfeeding for this time.

"Mothers who wish to introduce solids before six months should always talk to health professionals first."

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition is to review infant feeding and is due to report later this year.

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[deleted account]

They state that 3 of the 4 authors have done work for or received funding from the formula companies. Take all research with a grain of salt because results can be swayed by whoever is funding them. The most important thing about solids is making sure baby is showing all the signs of readiness like sitting unsupported, showing interest, etc.

Sandie - posted on 01/14/2011

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my immediate reaction was "what a load of rubbish" lol, my son was EBF for almost 8 months because our first encounter of solid food ended with him choking and me having to shove my fingers down his throat, so i was scared and waited until he began taking an interest in my food at mealtime...he's healthy, perfect weight, smart and has no allergies.

Amy - posted on 01/14/2011

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Honestly I think if you're going to have an allergy you're going to have it in no matter how soon or how late in life you were introduced to it. My bigger concern with introducing solids too soon is the damage that can be done long term because of the babies inability to properly digest them.

Aleks - posted on 01/21/2011

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I don't like being this way but I have to say this:

Please do not be so smug Kaccee. I hope that your child never develops any allergies, but I must tell you that some food allergies and food intollerances do not appear immediatelly! My SIL developed coeliac disease in her mid 20's!!! And many develop lactose intollerance and other restrictive diet type stuff in their adulthoods. I have read of many allergies developing later in life too. So your child (unless now an adult) is not out of the woods yet! What allergies are caused by, no body can actually say, however, what many researches are beginning to discover is that exclusive breastfeeding for longer "diminishes" the possibility of developing allergies, not "preventing" them.

Many "exclusively" breastfed babies have developed allergies I am sure, same as many ff babies did not. However, statistically speaking........ well, everyone knows.

Kelly - posted on 01/17/2011

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I will have to agree with another Mom-poster, a portion of validity & merit is lost when these researchers & “experts” are paid/funded by baby formula companies. My husband and I have two beautiful daughters that have excelled on all levels of their growth. BOTH girls were breastfed. Our oldest for a little over a year, and our youngest for a year & a half; both girls were EXCLUSIVELY breastfed for the first six months of life. Formula companies have come a long way for the benefit of women who are unfortunately unable to breastfeed. HOWEVER, for all the rest, “Mommy’s breastmilk” is STILL the best for our children.

All research must be studied and delved into by the parents. We need to stay vigilant, and be advocates for our innocent little angels…our children. Do your OWN research, speak with your OWN trusted pediatrician, and make an educated decision for YOUR family. Do not be a sheep, especially with your child’s health, development & well being are at risk!

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45 Comments

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[deleted account]

You're right this isn't a study. It's an opinion piece. The WHO's current guidelines are based on 3,000+ studies. Most importantly, you should watch your baby and know the signs of readiness for starting solids.

[deleted account]

Aleksandra: I was not trying to be smug nor was I saying that introducing solid foods early is better. We all know the benefits of bf but I personally do not agree that delayed introduction of solids has such a large impact based on my experiences both as an individual and a mother. I was merely laughing at the wording of this article. It seems kind of sudden and a "controversy" starter instead of a complete study with definite findings. I don't feel my parenting style is superior to any others just as I feel theirs are not superior to mine. I was simply stating my experience. It was not intended to upset or sound smug by any means. The wording of this article is just funny to me and was sharing my experience.

Michelle - posted on 01/21/2011

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"This review raises an important issue that is highly relevant to many people in the UK. It must not be interpreted out of context, and the conclusions of the reviewers should not be overstated. New research is published all the time and old policies are updated where they can be on the basis of this. The study findings highlight just how difficult it is to formulate a policy when the evidence is not strong."(NHS, 2010)

[deleted account]

Hahaha! This is hilarious! "EXCLUSIVELY breastfeed for 6 months! Wait....maybe not..." LOL! I only breastfed 2 weeks and my baby was eating solids (pears, cereal, bananas) at 2 months. No food allergies here. I guess to each their own.

Anna Tolia - posted on 01/20/2011

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Interested article! but I just want to share my view on breast feeding.
A lot of researches had been done gobally and both men and women involved and a lot of discussions and debating going on about what is good and what is bad and what cause this and what cause that...it is confusing and hard for anyone to believe any of the research unless the individuals are looking for something specific and found the research useful.

Reasearch versus motherhood:
I am a mother of 2. I have breast fed my two children until they were both 2 years old. They are both grown up now. I have never used or give them milk fomula of any kind since they were born. At six month I introduced them to solid food in which I cooked apple and either mash them or used a blender (for breakfast) then I boil up a kumara with silverbeet or carrot use the same juice in a blender for lunch and dinner. I also introduced water at six month I gave them water in a cup as they did not know how to drink from a bottle. At two years old I told them that they do not need the breast anymore.

I fed them on demand. I fed them when they want it no matter what time of the night or day. It was my choice. I was happy to do it. I was not working in those days I was fortunate enough to be home and if I get tired waking up at night I can always have a rest during the day.

Are the my kids healthy?...Oh yes..they were healthy babies and are healthy adults now. I recommend breast feeding to any new mothers out there if you are able to breast feed your babies for as long as you can handle with the understanding that not all mothers could breast feed due to complications.
Positives I found in breast feeding: Breast milk always have the correct temperature, Have all the nutritions need, Have a beautiful smell, have beautiful skin, do not bring up milk,mother and child close bond.
Negative I found: Waking up for feeds at nights but I guess one would wake up to make the bottles!, Sore breasts when weaning..

Overall..I have very healthy babies at the time / adults now. Thank you for sharing my story and if I firmly believe in breast feeding and I will encourage anyone who would like to breast feed for as long as you are able to.

Dora - posted on 01/17/2011

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I breast fed my son for 15 months and gave him solids at the same time. No food allergies at all. I am not sure if they go hand in hand but he has no allergies at all. He is now 2 1/2yrs old and has had shellfish, peanut butter foods, etc................

Tanith - posted on 01/17/2011

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Weird.....I personally have never known of a breastfed baby having food allergies, only formula fed babies.

How can something so natural as breastfeeding cause "health problems"?

I'm assuming it's the scientists looking too deeply into things again and finding things that actually aren't even there.

Stephy-Lynn - posted on 01/17/2011

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Quite frankly its not somehting you should really be worried about as I as well as hundreds of thousands of other moms have breastfed their babies (I have breast fed all 3 of my children until they were 2, but exclusively until they were 6 months) and these children don;t have food allergies. It really just depends on the child.

[deleted account]

Just saw this via the Leaky B@@b from the Lactivist:
"This is a tweet from the British Medical Journal to Breastfeeding advocates The Leaky Boob. It admits that the article recently published that suggests that exclusive breastfeeding may not be enough for babies was ‘interpreted differently in press’ and that it is an ‘opinion piece’.

Sadly, I do not think this fact will be newsworthy."

http://www.lactivist.net/?p=2437

Kimberly - posted on 01/17/2011

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Some of the American moms seem to be confused as to the wording of this article (I am American, but live in the UK) When they say weaning, they don't mean stop breastfeeding at all, they mean introducing solids along with breastfeeding.

I have to say that I totally agree with most everybody on the credibility of this article. I find it hard to believe that my child would have an increased chance of getting food allergies while breastfeeding when she's getting introductions to foods I eat through my milk. and to be honest, I don't see why these baby food companies did this study in the first place because seeing from your responses, most people nowadays, myself included, make their own baby food!

What I do find very interesting though, and this my spark a whole new debate, is the fact that so many of us moms are quick to say this article is ridiculous, yet the study that came out about the MMR vaccine (by a doctor being funded by the parents of children with autism) and many mom's went crazy refusing to get their children vaccinated for fear of autism.

I suppose these studies are going to just keep coming out and it's up to us to use our best judgement for the sake of our children! Good job fellow mommies!

Mary - posted on 01/16/2011

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I haven't read all the responses but here is a direct excerpt from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"Introduction of complementary feedings before 6 months of age generally does not increase total caloric intake or rate of growth and only substitutes foods that lack the protective components of human milk.194 "
The last part of the statement is the part that counts, "only substitutes foods that lack the protective components of human milk." Meaning that foods introduced before 6 months can take the place of the protective components of breast milk.

http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi...

A - posted on 01/16/2011

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I LOVE that everyone here sees the silliness in this article! Gives me hope for the babies out there! Glad people are seeing the food industry cares more about profit than health.

Becky - posted on 01/16/2011

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I think that one study shouldn't negate the numerous studies used as the basis for the original WHO recommendation of 6 months breastmilk/formula before solids. That said, it's up to each individual parent/child what works best for them. There are a lot of studies and guidelines funded by companies and I think they should throw those studies out frankly because I don't see how they can't be biased and/or misleading. Not that all of them are but enough that I don't trust them. My husband has severe allergies to many foods and we were worried about our son inheriting food allergies so we waited until after 6 months to start solids. We had our son tested for allergies to every food when he was around a year and he has no food allergies whatsoever...only dog/cat allergies. He's 27 months now and we just started letting him have bits and pieces of different kinds of nuts and he doesn't seem to have any problem with them either. He still nurses when he wants and I have never curtailed my diet to eliminate any foods that are typical allergens. I think that UK study should have been repeated by other independent studies before they came out and wrote an article about it as though it were definitive.

Erynne - posted on 01/16/2011

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HOGWASH. Or, more appropriate, BULLSHIT.

Furthermore, the infant gut does not close until at least 6mos. Giving them anything before then runs the risk of that getting into their blood. I'd rather not, thanks. http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/solids...

Considering almost no American and UK babies get exclusively breastmilk for the first six months (supplemented formula, baby cereal to help them 'sleep through the night,' baby purees marketed for four month olds), and yet we still have allergies running rampant, I think that their decision is fundamentally flawed. If introducing other foods BEFORE 6mos prevented allergies, shouldn't we be allergy-free? PFFFFFFF.

Not to mention 3 of the 4 researchers who did the study were employed by formula/baby puree manufacturers.

Melissa - posted on 01/15/2011

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I think too many North Americans are up in arms over this...remember, weaning in the UK means the introduction of foods, NOT eliminating breastmilk from your infant's diet.

As for the introduction, you'll also note that there is a wide array of dates/times when people on this forum have began to introduce solids to their own child. Some start pretty much from the beginning and others not until later, 9 months and beyond. In reality, its a parental decision otherwise the early eaters would have waited until the 6mo mark and the late bloomers wouldn't be introduced to solids beyond that 6mo mark. You know your baby, so continue to use your instincts. There are many, many arguable facets to child rearing. Just remain confident in your decisions as long as your baby is health and happy!

Aleks - posted on 01/15/2011

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From my experince babies readiness for introduction to solid foods varies just like when they start crawling, walking and talking! All go at different paces. My 1st born was ready as you can be for solids at 4.5mths of age, while my second probably would not have been ready until closer to 8-9mths of age (thought I started her earlier as she frequently bf, in hindsight due to silent reflux, which I was not aware of and I thought her constant request for breast was due to hunger.)

What should be happening is the recommendations based on babies readiness! And info given out to look out for signs of readiness, instead of the following (which I got): "...by 6mths of age should start baby on iron fortified cereal..... by7mths they should be having some mashed vegies such as potato, pumpkin..... at 8mths you can introduce meat...."etc etc
This advice is misleading and quite often very wrong for a lot of babies.
Unfortunatelly, I have come to realise this after having 2 babies who's eating habbits are quite different, which most new parents who need guidance, don't have the benefit of and so follow the "current" recommendations - which are frequently changing too.
What is sad is that breastfeeding rates in the western world are so low and also for those that did bf it usually was short term, this article/study is very damaging! So basically taking the bf promotion movement backwards another 3 steps!!!

This is just my personal opinion.

Robin - posted on 01/15/2011

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I waited until closer to 7 months to introduce solids. There isn't a need for it until they are 1 year so I just felt until she was really showing an interest, there was no need for it. And I never did cereal. We went straight to homemade veg/fruit purees. She is 14 months and has no allergies. Oh and I'm still breastfeeding her on demand (about every 4 hours during the day and once at night). And no milk or juice in her diet (well besides cheese and yogurt).

Nicky - posted on 01/15/2011

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interesting article, im no scientist, am just a regular mum with the experience of one baby that is 9mo
i was a formula baby because my mum had a lot of trouble and being the youngest of 3, she decided to flag after 3 mths, i was also having baby rice at 3 months which is pretty shocking. i have NO allergies whatsoever, in fact I just started getting a bit of hayfever and a bit of eczma after childbirth so go figure!
i gave my LO baby rice with breastmilk at 5mo as my milk just wasnt enough, she then went on to mushy pumpkin, and at 9mo will pretty much eat anything, not sure when fussiness starts but she certainly isnt allergic to anything that we can see, and im pretty open now to what she can have as long as it doesnt have added salt or sugar, and try to go organic when i can afford it (which is NOT OFTEN!)
my opinion is that you should give your baby as natural and unprocessed food as you can, whatever age, so if you choose to introduce solids before 6 months, then avoid babyfood and make your own. use it as a back up when you are struck for time, and even then vary the options, fruit will give them a sweet tooth in my completely unprofessional opinion, so just keep an eye on what you are giving them and make sure it is a well rounded balance of fruit, veg and grains :)

Vicki - posted on 01/15/2011

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this is a bunch of BS! i breasfed my daughter till she self-weaned at 9 months. she breastfed and had solid food starting around 5 months. at 2 1/2 she is super healthy and has no food allergies. i'll do the same with number two. most other scientific studies state that the longer you breastfeed the better. all the kids i know who have food allergies were barely breastfed, if at all. breast is best!

Jenna - posted on 01/15/2011

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I think parents need to be sensitive to their own child and his/her needs. I started my first daughter on the then recommended rice cereal right after 4 months. I started my second baby on meats right around 6 months. Do the few extra weeks really make or break a baby? I highly doubt it. Just pay attention to your baby...

Kristin - posted on 01/15/2011

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Wow, this is such rubbish, as the Brits would say! I am shocked to even see anything like this, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised given the power of the food industry. There are many many more studies showing that the more bfing you do, the better, for a million different reasons! No, I'm not going to list all the studies here, but I do appreciate the analyticalalarmadillo links, thank you!

Amanda - posted on 01/15/2011

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My 15 month old was under weight at a year check up and was annemic (sp) at her 1 yr. check.. She was EBF the first 9 months and was introduced to solids at that time, she was still hungry after breast feeding. So for three months she was getting both, and still came up under weight and iron was low. We did do a weight check up at 13 months and was just fine. We go in at the end of the month for her 15 month check up. I cant say who is right. My brother EBF for 18 months and was a chunk and never had iron problem. He just decided he didn't want to nurse anymore. So who is right? It seems to me no one really does but mom and baby. Trust your instincts and let your body do what its suppose, is what I have learned in the last 15 months.

Jennifer - posted on 01/15/2011

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Elizabeth, in the UK they use the term "weaning" when they are talking about weaning a baby ONTO food, they don't mean that a baby should be weaned OFF the breast.

Lea-Andra - posted on 01/15/2011

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I find it interesting about the iron issue. Babies have a reserve of iron in their body that starts to dissipate at 6 months so really anything iron fortified prior to 6 months is unnecessary.

Elizabeth - posted on 01/15/2011

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Why does the article suggest that when a baby starts solids, they must wean?? Babies do both just fine.

Krystle - posted on 01/15/2011

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Humm...I just tried clicking on the link to this article and it said: "Page Not Found: It is possible that the page you were looking for may have been moved, updated or deleted."

I bet it stirred a lot of controversy and they pulled it off.

But one thing I've noticed: in the UK the term "weaning" isn't used to mean, "stop breastfeeding" as it is in the US, but there it means, "starting the introduction of food".

I didn't read the article, but I'm wondering if they are just saying "let your baby start trying foods earlier, but continue to breastfeed"??

I don't care what is "in vogue" or what the latest research says: Nature knows more about taking care of babies than any scientist!

Lea-Andra - posted on 01/15/2011

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Pardon Rebecca but this is a user who has posted this, not the forum itself. This is an article from BBC NOT Circle of Mom's. If you have an issue with the article take it up with the people who wrote it.

Rebecca - posted on 01/15/2011

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I see this article saw fit to only include half the information and do chose to jump on the scaremongering band wagon. Well done circle of mums for simply failing to publish the whole information and leaving your community scared and confused. This is why I don't use this site. If anyone is looking for a better forum with fact instead of propergander, check out www.naturalmamas.co.uk

[deleted account]

In the UK they use the phrase "weaning onto solids." That doesn't mean to wean off breast milk. Not that I agree with the article lol.

Jodi - posted on 01/14/2011

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Here is my issue with this (apart from the extreme bias of the authors being in affiliation with the baby food industry): First they say: "Weaning before six months 'may help breastfed babies' "

Then, they say:"In the British Medical Journal, the team said breastfed babies may benefit from being given solid food earlier."

Well, why would they tell you to wean when all they're saying is an introduction to solids may be beneficial (which I don't necessarily buy.) I didn't have to wean my daughter in order let have some solids, in fact, I didn't wean until she was 20 months old and eating 3 meals and a snack or two a day. Weaning and the introduction of solids don't go hand in hand (at least, not if you dont' want them to) so why in one sentence tell you weaning by 6 months is best and in the next state that you merely need to introduce solids? Make up your minds researchers! In my world of breastfeeding, there's a huge difference between weaning and introducing solids.

Needless to say, I think the study is bull and should be tossed in the trash.

Jayde - posted on 01/14/2011

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haha no anaemia for my bub she was ebf for 6months &2weeks & she was chunkylicious :) They said she was overweight at the doctors well there was nothing i could do about it cos i wasnt giving her anything else :) I agree with Sara that the studies would sway to whomever is funding them...

Kimberly - posted on 01/14/2011

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I'm torn with this article. I breastfed my daughter and weaned her onto solids (rice cereal) at 5 months 1 week old. She doesn't have any food allergies (yet, she's 16 months now) and I honestly don't think waiting the extra 3 weeks would have made her more likely to have them. Are our babies not exposed to all the foods we eat through our milk? You'd think this would make it LESS likely for allergies?



EDITED TO ADD -



Some of the American moms seem to be confused as to the wording of this article (I am American, but live in the UK) When they say weaning, they don't mean stop breastfeeding at all, they mean introducing solids along with breastfeeding.



I have to say that I totally agree with most everybody on the credibility of this article. I find it hard to believe that my child would have an increased chance of getting food allergies while breastfeeding when she's getting introductions to foods I eat through my milk. and to be honest, I don't see why these baby food companies did this study in the first place because seeing from your responses, most people nowadays, myself included, make their own baby food!



What I do find very interesting though, and this my spark a whole new debate, is the fact that so many of us moms are quick to say this article is ridiculous, yet the study that came out about the MMR vaccine (by a doctor being funded by the parents of children with autism) and many mom's went crazy refusing to get their children vaccinated for fear of autism.



I suppose these studies are going to just keep coming out and it's up to us to use our best judgement for the sake of our children! Good job fellow mommies!

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