Autism is on the rise. The latest reports released through the Center for Disease Control (CDC) show that 1 in 88, eight year olds have been diagnosed with the communication disorder. This figure is up from 1 in 110, reported in 2009. It is a significant increase. 23% increase according to the CDC.
The CDC stipulates that, “Some of this increase is due to the way children are identified, diagnosed, and served in their communities, although exactly how much is due to these factors is unknown.” With that said they point out that the figures are higher in states with more sophisticated organizations to identify the disorder. It is a point well taken. If you don’t look for something, you don’t find it. But are they trying to tell us that all these young children with “autism spectrum disorder” have always been roaming around unidentified and that in states that aren’t organized to identify them there are just as many only we don’t know about it? That could be interpreted to mean the number of autistic children is still higher and the increase greater.
What is even more disturbing is that the figures represent a survey taken from 2002 to 2008. What will the figures bringing us up to 2012 tell us? Whatever they tell us, it will be discounted because the American Psychiatric Association (APA) will have redefined “autism spectrum disorder”. They are in the process of doing it now and will release the new definition in December.
The APA is working on the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the standard reference for mental disorders. It is used in determining treatment and insurance decisions. This will be its first major revision in seventeen years. Currently a child must display 6 or more of 12 behaviors to be diagnosed, under the new definition they would have to exhibit 3 deficits in social interaction and communication, and at least 2 repetitive behaviors. The APA says this does not necessarily constitute a narrower definition.
Some doctors and parents are angry; it potentially means that children with special needs won’t be receiving help. Dr. Fred Volkmar, a researcher at Yale, who resigned from the APA panel in protest said, “I want to be sure we’re not going to leave some kids out in the cold.” Volkmer says the revision could exclude almost 40% of children with true autism. The APA says the figures he used in this analysis are two decades old.
Twenty years ago there was no “autism spectrum disorder”, that was term was created for the last edition of the DSM. Before that it was simply “autism”. Does this mean that kids who were diagnosed with autism twenty years ago won’t be diagnosed with it now? The switch to the “autism spectrum disorder” was supposed to have broadened the definition, fueling the increased numbers diagnosed.
It would seem that the CDC and the APA are trying to fight the increase in autism by manipulating statistics. There is no definitive test for autism. The diagnosis in use since the last DSM covers children who once were called mentally retarded, as well as some who might have merely been considered odd. On the way out is the inclusion of Asperger’s Syndrome which is responsible for a large portion of the increase.
While the APA and the CDC spout numbers there are actually researchers looking into possible causes. The CDC is not happy with some of them. At the top of the list is are Danish doctors who demonstrated that removing preservative Thimerosal, which is made of over 49% mercury, from vaccines led to a decrease in childhood autism. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the CDC allowed an article to be published in the journal “Pediatrics’ that excluded large amounts of information, misrepresenting a documented decline in autism in Denmark as an increase.
The CDC is vaccine crazed and doesn’t seem to tolerate any information that the preservatives used in them, even when made of acknowledged poisons like mercury, are dangerous and can spur side effects. The CDC charged the doctor who worked on the Danish study, who had received a CDC grant, with fraud, suing him for millions of dollars as well. The “Pediatrics” article is still cited as the source that Thimerosal is safe and does not cause autism. Simply said, that is not true.
But there is more at work in potential causes of autism than vaccines. A study released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) revealed a strong correlation of gastrointestinal symptoms with autism severity showing that children with more severe autism are likely to have more severe gastrointestinal symptoms and vice versa. Concluding that, “It is possible that autism symptoms are exacerbated or even partially due to the underlying gastrointestinal problems.”
GI symptoms like constipation and diarrhea are common in autism and specific types of bacteria are more prevalent in significant numbers of autistic children. In regard to treatment, the report stated, “Treatment studies using a minimally absorbed oral antibiotic (vancomycin) to treat abnormal gut flora showed significant temporary improvements in behavior for children with late-onset autism, but the benefits were lost after treatment stopped. This study demonstrated the importance of gastrointestinal flora and the difficulty in permanently normalizing them.”
The gastrointestinal connection was also made by British doctor Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield and some of those working with him were publically vilified a few years ago for cooking their statistics. The British stripped them of their medical licenses. Subsequent investigations showed the statistics were not cooked and one of Wakefield’s colleagues was recently cleared of misconduct charges by the British courts, citing a lack of evidence, and has had his license reinstated. Dr. Wakefield now practices in the U.S.
The Wakefield case was much publicized by the CDC PR machine. Since then several peer review studies have confirmed his findings. The CDC is mum about that. So what is the heated debate all about? Wakefield’s study suggests there may be a link between the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine with bowel disease and autism. The link was made to MMR vaccine by the presence, in the guts of the children studied, of the unique virus used in the vaccine.
It should also be noted that the imbalance in gut flora is also found in a significant portion of the mothers of autistic children. The use of fermented foods and probiotics foods for babies is recommended. A recent survey also suggests a correlation between women who gain too much weight in pregnancy and autistic children. There is a possible genetic connection as well due to the mutation of certain genes which are passed from mother to child.
If further proof is needed, I defer to my son-in-law who is a kindergarten teacher. He has more autistic kids in his class now than he did a few years ago. In short, there is a lot more going on with autism than statistical abnormalities. The increase is real.
The pertinent questions are, “Who is behind the character assassinations of doctors who try to make the autism/thimerasol/vaccine connection?” and “Why won’t the CDC address the medical/nutritional aspects of the problem?”