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This week, we are honored to draw upon the expertise of Dr. Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin, pediatrician and author of Twins 101. We wanted to address a topic that is on a lot of parents’ minds these days: autism.

With the recent media attention, many parents are nervous about the possibility of autism. Are multiples more likely to be on the spectrum than singletons?

Twins are no more likely to have autism than the general population. The exception is if a twin has a co-twin with autism. Because autism can run in families, twins are more likely to develop autism if their co-twin has it. However, being a twin, per se, does not necessarily increase one’s risk of autism if there are no affected family members.

Do you believe there is a link between vaccines and developing autism?

The Autism Speaks organization best summarizes the answer to this question below:

Though the debate over the role that vaccines play in causing autism grows more heated every day, researchers have still not found a definitive link between the two. According to organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, there’s just not enough evidence to support the contention that vaccines – specifically thimerosal-containing vaccines – cause children to develop autism. One study published in the medical journal Lancet faulting the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) shot has since been questioned by its own authors, and many others have also failed to pass scientific muster. Still, the accusations continue, largely from parents of children on the spectrum, and it’s easy to understand why: There are still no answers to this day about what’s causing a disorder that appears to steadily be expanding its reach.

What can parents do to help prevent this issue, or deal with it if it has been diagnosed?

Currently, there is no proven way to prevent autism. However, early diagnosis is the key to improving the long-term outcome for children with autism. Intervention with behavioral, speech, and other therapies have been shown to have the most success when started at an early age. Parents can help with the early diagnosis of autism by attending regular well child visits with their pediatrician and keeping a close eye out for possible signs of autism.

According to Autism Speaks, parents should notify their pediatrician if they notice their child has any of the following possible signs of autism:

-No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by 6 months of age

-No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by 9 months.

-No response when the child’s name is called by 10 months.

-No babbling by 12 months.

-No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months.

-No words by 16 months.

-No two word meaningful phrases (without imitation or repeating) by 24 months.

-Any loss of speech, babbling, or social skills at any age. For parents seeking more information about the diagnosis and treatment of autism, I highly recommend the Autism Speaks website

The site hosts an extensive collection of articles and videos which highlight key facts regarding autism. For parents of children with autism, the site offers vital information on treatment options and practical advice on how to meet their child’s unique needs.

Thank you, Dr. Le-Bucklin, for your time and expertise! We look forward to talking with you again!

To visit Dr. Le-Bucklin’s twins website, click here!

Have a great Monday, MoMs and Dads! Don’t forget to stop by each other’s blogs and leave a comment!