March 30, 2012
Report Now Shows 1 In 54 Boys Are Autistic: Almost a 1000% Increase Since 1980
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are now 1 in 88 children in the United States who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Boys are almost five times more likely to be autistic than girls -- with 1 in 54 boys now identified. This represents almost a 1000% increase since the 1980s.
In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) argued that the world faces a critical problem with the growing number of people with mental and neurological problems, including autism, which accounts for 11% of global disease. The number is projected to reach approximately 15% by 2020. In 2009, the WHO estimated that there are 1,100,000 cases of autism in China; 650,000 in the UK; 500,000 in the Philippines; and 180,000 in Thailand. The rate of autism is growing at 14% per year around the world. In China it is growing at a rate of 20% a year.
Autism is Booming In The United States
However, the United States has a disproportionately high incidence of ASD with 1 in every 88 children identified and 1 in 54 boys. More than 24,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism for the first time every year. It is officially the fastest growing disability in America.
The number of children identified with ASDs ranged from 1 in 210 children in Alabama to 1 in 47 children in Utah. The largest increases were among Hispanic and black children.
The report, Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders -- Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008, provides autism prevalence estimates from 14 areas. It was just published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Vaccines Are Not The Only Contributor To Autism
Anti-vaccine advocates have sharply criticized the medical community for the rise in vaccination scheduling and frequency as a primary cause of autism. Although vaccines are certainly a contributor to ASD, they are not the smoking gun in terms of causation. If they were, then a much higher percentage of children receiving vaccines would exhibit symptoms of the disorder.
Being a strong supporter of the anti-vaccine community myself, nobody would have liked to have seen conclusive evidence of the vaccine-autism link more than yours truly. Vaccination for immunization is one of the biggest frauds in medical history, and the day will come when we will no longer commit our children to these barbaric injections. I have asserted repetitively over the years that when it comes to vaccines, don't sit on the fence. We know that most of the evidence now suggests that the healthiest children in the future will be unvaccinated. But make no mistake that does not preclude their direct involvement in the cause of ASD. If anything, it is indirect.
There is indeed a correlation between children receiving vaccines and the tendency to develop symptoms of ASD. The United States has the highest number of mandated vaccines for children under 5 in the world (36, double the Western world average of 18), the highest autism rate in the world (More than 10 times or more the rate of some other Western countries). However, according to the vaccine data, a direct link between vaccines and autism is inconclusive in terms of causation. Much of the confusion stems from the abundance of toxins and pollutants in our foods and the environment which only contribute to the problem. Genetic predisposition also plays a role which can no longer be denied.
Environmental factors that could trigger predisposed genes to mutate and cause autism are vast and could include certain drugs, chemicals, heavy metal exposure, antibiotics, flame retardants, or toxins introduced during key developmental phases in the womb.
The accumulated evidence is strong enough to convince even one-time proponents of the MMR vaccine-autism link, like Dr. Jeff Bradstreet, director of the International Child Development Resource Center in Palm Bay, Fla. "MMR does not appear to cause autism," alone Bradstreet concedes. "If it did, it would be a godsend because we could change the vaccine and that would be it." Still, he suspects that the MMR vaccine might worsen a pre-existing autistic condition.
Regardless, we know this disease is getting worse, and despite the reassurances of improved diagnoses within medical community, they are eons away from addressing the cause or treatment in a timely fashion. We know toxins are key component in the development of ASD, yet the only statements or cause for concern that continues to be parroted by the CDC's fixated foundations are that children need help. "One thing the data tells us with certainty -- there are more children and families that need help," said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "We must continue to track autism spectrum disorders because this is the information communities need to guide improvements in services to help children."
We Need Action To Reduce Toxic Overloads, Not
Zachary Warren, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Vanderbilt University, says effective early identification and treatment of autism is a public health emergency.
"The new CDC data is the best evidence we have to date that autism is a very common disorder. While recent estimates have varied, we have always known the individual, familial, educational and societal costs that go along with autism are tremendous," Warren said. "We are now seeing autism in more than 1 percent of the population, which highlights how challenging it will be for systems of care to meet service needs."
Unfortunately, superficial empathetic statements from the CDC will do little to reverse this growing and very serious epidemic. Autism is now more common than childhood cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. Across a mere 10-year period--1993-2003--statistics from the U.S. Department of Education revealed a 657% increase in the nationwide rate of autism. Researchers debate whether autism rates are increasing or if broadening definitions of autism allow more people to be diagnosed. There are of course several different measures in epidemiological sciences to track the frequency and occurrence of the disease, such as incidence rate, cumulative incidence, point and period prevalence, but regardless of the measurement the incidence has skyrocketed since the 1980s which had estimated rates at about 1 per 1000. That means the cumulative incidence since that time is almost a 1000% increase.
The annual cost of autism is projected to increase $200-$400 billion dollars in the next decade. Although the U.S. economy is already in jeopardy, if the rate of autism continues to increase, researchers speculate it may even accelerate the destruction of the U.S. economy.
How Do We Accept The Ultimate Cause of Autism?
So what is the ultimate cause of autism? We may never have the definitive answer to that question since there are so many variables in the equation.
I've even had more than one mother of autistic children tell me that there may be reasons for this disease that we may never be aware of. We perceive these children to be somehow damaged and outcasts from the societal norms expected of our youngest generations, but what if they have another lesson to teach us? Instead of only offering our polarizing judgement, the least we can do is accept that the disease exists and embrace the uniqueness of these children until we find resolution.
According to the Journal of the American Association of Pediatrics, mothers of autistic children maintain remarkable strengths in creating parent-child relationships and social support. Certainly that represents a victory that many parents of unaffected children cannot attest to. Any parent of an autistic child will naturally identify the influential role these kids are having on our society. That does not by any means suggest we need to accept or dismiss the cause, but we should relate to our circumstances in a positive rather than negative direction.
Helping Autistic Children Cope Through Diet
Many parents have claimed a high degree of success from dietary strategies to reduce the symptoms of ASD. According to researchers from Penn State a gluten-free, casein-free diet may lead to improvements in behavior and physiological symptoms in children diagnosed with ASD.
"Research has shown that children with ASD commonly have GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms," said Christine Pennesi, medical student at Penn State College of Medicine. "Notably, a greater proportion of our study population reported GI and allergy symptoms than what is seen in the general pediatric population. Some experts have suggested that gluten- and casein-derived peptides cause an immune response in children with ASD, and others have proposed that the peptides could trigger GI symptoms and behavioral problems."
"Gluten and casein seem to be the most immunoreactive," Klein said. "A child's skin and blood tests for gluten and casein allergies can be negative, but the child still can have a localized immune response in the gut that can lead to behavioral and psychological symptoms. When you add that in with autism you can get an exacerbation of effects."
"If parents are going to try a gluten-free, casein-free diet with their children, they really need to stick to it in order to receive the possible benefits," she said.
Parents of autistic children should realize that there are now many avenues of support due to the growing segment of the population being afflicted with this disease. That means parents and caregivers will soon have as many answers as they are willing to accept. We may never have all the answers, but many prevention and treatment protocols are available and the knowledge of ASD is gradually increasing in both mainstream and alternative health care. Together, we will all find a solution to help our children and each other.
Dave Mihalovic is a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in vaccine research, cancer prevention and a natural approach to treatment.