The Autism Epidemic


Photo of Timmy and Emmy Conroy of Boulder, Colorado by Julia Vandenoever

Just last week, the CDC announced a new estimate of the number of children identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): 1 in 88. This is up from the CDC’s 2007 estimate of 1 in 150. According to the CDC, the estimated prevalence of ASDs increased 78% from 2002 to 2008.

Five times as many boys as girls are diagnosed with ASD: 1 in 54 for boys; 1 in 252 for girls. According to Mark Blaxill of Safe Minds, the rate of ASD in some states is 1 in 50. Utah, for example has a rate of 1 in 47; New Jersey’s rate is 1 in 49. Autism affects over 100,000 families.

At a press conference on World Autism Awareness Day, Blaxill called for: real community participation; an investigation by the Government Accounting Office (GAO); Congressional hearings; and telling the truth about vaccines and autism.

Vaccines and Autism. While the possible association between childhood vaccines and autism has been categorically denied by many, a 2011 study in the Pace Environmental Law Review identified 83 cases of autism associated with childhood vaccine injury that have been compensated for through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). 

Safe Minds,  the non-profit organization founded by parents of autistic children, hopes “to restore health and protect future generations by eradicating the devastation of autism and associated health disorders induced by mercury and other man made toxicants, and to eliminate exposure to mercury in medical products, vaccines, and in the environment.” Their outstanding “white paper,” The Autism Crisis — April 2012 is full of information that they encourage be shared with others:

Call it an Epidemic. The prevalence of autism is rising at about 12% a year. If we don’t find a cause in the next five years, 80,000 children a year will be diagnosed with autism. Safe Minds asks, “Can anyone with a conscience claim this isn’t an epidemic?”

Allocate more money for Autism research and services. Only $230 million is allocated per year for  the 730,000 people with autism in the US. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, allocates $169 million a year for autism (45,454 babies a year); $170 million for pediatric cancer (800 US babies a year); $228 million for pediatric AIDS (13,333 babies a year).

Fund Environmental Research. The largest twin study to date found that autism risk is 55 to 58% environmental and only 37 to 38% genetic. Despite this finding, funding for genetic causation research outweighed funding for environmental causation research approximately six to one in 2009. Safe Minds calls for research into populations that may be more susceptible to vaccine injury.

Compare Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children. The August 2011 Institute of Medicine report on Vaccine Adverse Effects investigated 158 potential adverse outcomes from vaccines. Of these, 135, or 85%, were found to have inadequate research to accept or reject a causal association. Of the 23 outcomes where the research was deemed adequate, 18, or 78%, were found supportive of harm. Research was only adequate to clear five of the 158 outcomes from vaccine safety concerns.

It is time for a large trial of vaccinated and unvaccinated children to see if there are higher autism rates among vaccinated children than among those who have never been vaccinated.

 

Peggy O’Mara  (101 Posts)

Peggy O’Mara founded Mothering.com in 1995 and is currently its editor-in chief. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has lectured and conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League International, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four.

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