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For nearly two decades parents have been worried about a supposed link between vaccines and autism. The suggestion that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) could be linked to autism has caused so much stress for families and communities.

Scientists and doctors have been working hard to get parents the evidence they need to feel comfortable with the MMR vaccine in order to prevent measles outbreaks, and now one of the largest ever studies done on the vaccine has found that there is no evidence that the MMR vaccine increases the risk of autism.

In fact, the 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.

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This study is not the first to debunk the research of discredited former doctor Andrew Wakefield, who first suggested vaccination and autism were linked in 1998, but it is the largest ever study to do so.

The Danish study involved 657,461 children. In that group, 6,517 were diagnosed with autism. The study's lead author, Dr. Anders Hviid of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark, told Reuters that the results prove "Parents should not skip the vaccine out of fear for autism."

In an email to NPR Hviid explained that despite a body of research debunking Wakefield's work, "The idea that vaccines cause autism is still around despite our original and other well-conducted studies...Parents still encounter these claims on social media, by politicians, by celebrities, etc."

He's right, and with so much misinformation circulating it can be really hard for parents to make decisions about vaccines. Sometimes it seems like the easiest, safest decision is to do nothing, but as we've seen in recent outbreaks, that can leave communities and kids vulnerable to diseases like measles.

That's why this week the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asked Google, Facebook and Pinterest to help it combat online vaccine misinformation. The AAP also wants parents to talk to their pediatricians if they have concerns about vaccines, as it's found that often when parents are hesitant about vaccinating their doctor has information they need to make their decision.

Parents sometimes don't involve their pediatrician in their vaccine decision because they fear judgement, but the AAP's President, Dr. Kyle E. Yasuda, says moms and dads don't need to fear that, as pediatricians are used to having these conversations and respect that it is a parent's decision. They just want parents to have the best information to make that choice.

"Pediatricians talk with families every day about their children's health, and we respect parents who disagree with us," says Dr. Yasuda.

Online misinformation has driven a wedge between parents and pediatricians, but doctors are trying to reconnect with parents because they also want our children to be healthy, and want parents to know we don't need to be scared of this vaccine, or of judgment from pediatricians.

They've had this conversation many times, and they're happy to have it with you.

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Happy half-birthday! Can you believe it was only six months ago that your baby's schedule consisted of just sleeping and eating? Now, your happy buddy is probably working on a whole new repertoire of skills.

Although the cake will have to wait, this milestone can be celebrated with your baby's first bites of solid food. Just be sure to keep the camera ready as your little one gets more mashed avocado on their face than in their mouth.

Now that they're ready to sit in a high chair, it's time to envision all of the family meals to come. This makes right now a great time to start thinking about the dinner rituals you hope to create… and upgrade your dining space to match those dreams.

As you round the corner on your little one's first year, here's what we suggest adding to the shopping list:

Never fear the messy bites: Cloud Island bibs

Cloud Island Bibs

It's a pretty successful meal if approximately half of the food ends up in your 6-month-old's mouth. Make sure the other half doesn't end up on their clothes by stocking up on bibs that are easy to wash.

$9.99

Make room at the table: Graco Floor2Table high chair

Graco High Chair

Feeding your baby requires your full attention, so it's generally best to do it before or after your own mealtime. But it's still nice to include your baby at family dinner with their own seat at the table. It won't be long before they ask you to pass the mashed potatoes!

$149.99

For those first bites of “real food”  Beaba training spoons

Beaba

After a lifetime of only drinking from a bottle and/or breast, eating from a utensil has to feel like a major adjustment. Help your baby warm up to this new way of eating with a supply of baby-sized spoons.

$19.00

For mastering the art of baby food prep: Baby Brezza food processor

Baby Brezza

Good news: There are no advanced culinary skills required to make baby food. By steaming and pureeing their first meals, you can take charge of what foods and flavors you introduce.

$99.99

For last-minute mealtime: Happy Baby pouches

Happy Baby

Let's be honest: It can feel miraculous to get one meal on the table, let alone two separate ones. When you want or need a simpler option, it's nice to have a stockpile of convenient, healthy baby food pouches.

$6.49

For the splatter zone: Bumpkins splat mat

Bumpkins splat mat

As your baby begins eating, prepare to be amazed by all of the places you'll find traces of pureed sweet potatoes. This makes it a perfect time to swap out your dining room rug for an easy-to-clean option.

$19.39

For easy family meals: Instant Pot Duo Nova

Instant pot

When there are only so many hours in the day, the less time you can spend cooking and cleaning up afterward the better. There's a reason this is called an 'instant' pot—it'll free up so much precious time for you to spend with your family.

$119.99

For greenery without the commitment: Project 62 artificial plant

Project 62

We love including greenery in our home decor, but when you're busy enough keeping the people in your house alive, the last thing you need is a houseplant to water. Thankfully, today's faux plant options look so convincing that no one will know the difference.

$7.99

For counting all those steps: Fitbit Inspire activity tracker

Fit bit

Between walking and lifting that growing babe, you've been exercising this whole time without even realizing it, mama! Give yourself a boost of confidence by realizing how much movement you clock on a daily basis.

$99.95

For nighttime reading: Threshold table lamp 

threshold lamp

After months of tip-toeing around your own bedroom so you don't wake a sleeping baby, it's slightly thrilling to reclaim the space as your baby transitions to their own bedroom. This is a perfect time to start a new bedtime reading routine—complete with a stylish bedside lamp.

$44.99

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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