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Can you outgrow Autism? And 5 other facts parents need to know

We break down some recent research about Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Is autism caused by vaccines?

April is National Autism Awareness month, but as scientists discover more about Autism Spectrum Disorder every day, Autism makes the news on a weekly basis all year round. There is still so much we don't know, but also a lot that we are starting to understand about this condition that impacts between 1 in 40 children in the United States, according to the AAP.

Here are six things parents need to know about recent research on Autism:

1. It's true that grandparents may notice it first

A study published in the journal Autism found that a quarter of parents of kids diagnosed with ASD reported that someone other than mom or dad was the first to suggest their child might think differently. Of those, nearly 60% said it was the child's grandmother who first brought up the possibility of ASD.

It's not that becoming a grandmother makes people automatically great at spotting Autism, but rather that parents who are with their children every single day may not notice things that a close yet not daily observer might.

2. It's not true that Autism is linked to the MMR vaccine

The link between Autism and the MMR vaccine has been thoroughly debunked. In fact, a recent, massive study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine found children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella are actually 7% less likely to develop autism than children who didn't get vaccinated. The Tdap vaccine is also not linked to ASD.

3. It's true that infection during pregnancy increases ASD risks

While we don't yet know exactly what causes Autism, infections during pregnancy do increase ASD risks, a recent study found. Researchers looked at data from more than 1.8 million kids and found that infections during pregnancy increase the risk of autism by 79% (and increase the risk of depression by 24%).

Researchers expected to see a link between major infections like sepsis, but were surprised to see even minor infections increased risks, but they stress that parents shouldn't panic about a UTI during pregnancy. "This is just one of a myriad of causes that we think increases risk," one of the researchers, Benjamin J. S. al-Haddad told Global News. "This is another piece of trying to understand what the causes of autism are and how we can prevent those causes."

His colleague, Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf tells CNN that moms-to-be should "make sure you have your influenza vaccination in pregnancy," as one way to prevent infection.

4. It is true that there may be a link to pesticides

A recent study published in the BMJ suggests that prenatal exposure to pesticides within 2000 meters of the mothers home does increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder, as did exposure to pesticides during infancy.

The study's lead author, Ondine von Ehrenstein, told Time the results indicate that babies are vulnerable to certain pesticides both before and after birth. "I would hope that these findings would make some policy makers think about effective public health policy measures to protect populations who may be vulnerable and living in areas that could put them at higher risk," she explains.

5. It is true that some kids may "outgrow" an ASD diagnosis—but it's more complicated than that

A recent study published in the Journal of Child Neurology found that while it is possible for children with an early diagnosis of ASD (and early intervention) to "drop" their diagnosis (basically get to a point where they no longer meet the criteria for an ASD diagnosis) that doesn't mean they are "cured" or won't require further interventions.

"It's certainly encouraging to confirm that a subset of children with early ASD diagnosis accompanied by developmental delays can in essence recover from the disorder and go on to have typical social and cognitive functioning," lead author Dr. Lisa Shulman explains in a media release. "Almost all of them still have to contend with language and learning disabilities and a variety of emotional and behavioral problems."

6. It's true that kids diagnosed with ASD are often diagnosed with other conditions

As Spectrum reports, an ASD diagnosis is often followed by identification of other conditions. A recent study found 1 in 3 people with an ASD diagnosis are also diagnosed conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) within 15 years of their ASD diagnosis.

Bottom line: It seems like every week a new study on Autism hits our news feeds, and the amount of information can be absolutely overwhelming if you have a child living with ASD.

Despite all this research, There is still a lot we don't understand about Autism, but we do know this: Parenting a child with ASD can be hard, but it can also be so rewarding.

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From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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Balance board

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Detective set

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Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

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Sand play set

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Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

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Water play set

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Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

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Mini golf set

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Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

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Wooden rocking pegasus

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Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

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Croquet set

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Wooden digital camera

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Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

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Wooden bulldozer toy

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Pull-along hippo

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There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

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Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

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