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Article stirs autism and vaccine debate

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Just as parents are in the middle of "back to school" preparations, there's more controversy about whether or not to vaccinate.

Earlier this week a study came out showing a possible link of inducing labor and autism, now an online article has caused another stir.

An article by Whiteout Press, titled "Courts Quietly Confirm MMR Vaccine Causes Autism" has fueled a burning argument among the autism community.

It says both the U.S. government and courts overseas have awarded families money for children who developed autism after vaccinations.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration responded with this statement:

"The government has not compensated any case based on a determination that autism, in the absence of acute neurological illness, was actually caused by vaccines. The government has compensated cases where a child showed sudden serious brain illness (called acute encephalopathy) at the time of vaccination. Some of these compensated children go on to develop long term medical and developmental problems. These problems may be the result of the brain illness or may develop for other reasons. Long term medical problems may include seizures, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, mental retardation, as well as the diagnosis of autism. "

-David Bowman, HRSA Office of Communications

In mother Polly Tommey's mind, vaccines do cause autism. Her now 17-year-old son Billy experienced a vicious reaction after getting a round of shots as a baby.

"He was convulsing. His eyes were in the back of his head," she explained.

She says she isn't anti-vaccine. But she decided not to vaccinate her younger son.

Traci Whitney says a vaccine did not cause her son's autism. She does believe that a large number of vaccinations can exacerbate the condition.

"Kids are born with a tendency in developing an autism spectrum diagnosis or they're not," Whitney said.

Whitney says her son Max, who is a twin, started acting differently from his brother when he was a year old.

"He stopped looking at us, he stopped answering to his name," Whitney said.

After his one year shots she says he got considerably worse.

"I feel like that set of shots under that set of circumstances with my specific child caused my child to have an autism spectrum disorder," Whitney said.

As a parent, you do not have to vaccinate your children in order to send them back to school. The state health department allows you to opt out. But should you take that risk?

Read about school vaccinations and opting out here

Meena Iyer, M.D. of Dell Children's Hospital says there is no medical study that links vaccinations and autism.

"I would strongly advocate all my patients to get vaccinated," Iyer said. "Sometimes families feel we are imposing things on them or we're trying to be in favor of the companies who make these vaccines which is totally not the truth. We understand the vaccines, how the vaccines are made and can prevent infections and diseases and we also want the best for their child. So it's a very educated, informed decision that we help the family make."

While research on autism continues, the moms, whom we spoke with, recommend considering an alternative vaccine schedule and at the least education.

"I think it's important for parents to know there's choices. They don't need to live in fear," said Whitney.

The state health department says vaccines are safe, effective and necessary. They save lives. They too encourage parents to talk with their doctors.

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