Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Autism Rising: 1 in 100 US Children Have an Autism Disorder

The images above are taken from the autism section of the 2007 US National Survey of Children's Health and indicate that 1 in 100 American children in the 2 to 17 age range have an autism spectrum disorder. That figure is yet another startling indication of the existence of a real autism crisis. Those who deny that environmental factors cause, in whole or in part, autism disorders, will have less and less credibility as 1% of American children are reported autistic. The expanded definition of autism disorders to include Aspergers Disorder in 1993-1994 is irrelevant to an increase from 1 in 150 reported by the CDC in the past few years to 1 in 100 now as reported by the NSCH. The 1 in 100 figure is in line with the UK figures as well although there a recent study suggests the actual rate may be closer to 1 in 58.

This new report is startling but where is the mainstream media on this? Why is the same media that have been busy ridiculing parents who question possible vaccine autism connections silent when public authorities provide information showing dramatic increases in autism? Since my son was diagnosed with autism in 1998 the reported figures for autism have changed from 1 in 500 to 1 in 250 to 1 in 166 to 1 in 100. Does the 1993-4 diagnositc definition change really explain fully the relentless increase in reported cases of autism over the past decade from 1999 to 2009?

And why are people like Dr. Tom Insel of the Inter Agency Autism Coordinating Committee silent? Autism researcher Teresa Binstock pointed out in 1999 that autism research funding allocations had been weighted heavily in favor of the "it's gotta be genetic" model of autism research funding allocations. The authors of the recent University of California Davis study which suggested environmental factors were involved in the increasing autism numbers in California have highlighted the neglected funding for environmental autism research:

“Right now, about 10 to 20 times more research dollars are spent on studies of the genetic causes of autism than on environmental ones. We need to even out the funding,” Hertz-Picciotto said."

Over the past decade the numbers of autism cases have skyrocketed and yet the autism research funding still reflects the "it's gotta be genetic" model that Binstock outed in 1999. What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong with the decision makers who refuse to authorize funding to research environmental causes of autism? Do they have conflicts of interest that tie their hands or are they just too stubborn and tied to outdated paradigms to change?

In his recent appearance before Senator Harkin's subcommittee Dr. Insel desperately insisted that a comparative study of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations could not be done for ethical reasons even though unvaccinated populations already exist in the US and even though contrary statements have been made by people like Dr. Bernadine Healy, Dr. Julie Gerberding, and Dr. Duane Alexander. I DO NOT allege ANY conflicts of interest on the part of Dr. Insel. He seemed more like a true believer who does not have an open mind to arguments that challenge his views about vaccine safety.

Autism research funding has been heavily weighted toward genetic causes of autism. It is time to provide some balance as researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto said and conduct environmentally based autism research. It is time to research all possible environmental causes of autism, including possible vaccine factors, as Dr. Jon Poling has stated.

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Celeste Jean said...

agreed, agreed. I think it all boils down to a reluctance to take responsibility for the environmental causes. No one (civilians, businesses, government) wants to have to change or suffer consequences. It is very sad and I am looking forward to seeing things change in the future. (I hope.)

robert said...

Good morning from Athens, Greece.
Being a father on my own (23months old boy) this entry of yours was surely of interest, as I have no idea about figures about Greece, respectively Germany, being my origin.
Probably a good time to do some research on this on my own.

Melanie said...

I'm horrified to see that number. And what scares me most is that the only reason I saw it was a visit to your blog. I have not seen this number on the news, at my doctor's office, on Yahoo's top headlines or anywhere else that it should be right now. It is truly alarming. Thank you for being someone trying to make others aware.