Tag Archives: autism epidemic

Is there an autism epidemic?

There are plenty of people these days who think there’s no autism epidemic. There have always been this many folks with serious impairments, the theory goes, but they were undiagnosed before. Diagnosis has gotten so much better that they’re finding them everywhere. One in 100 of those being born now, in fact.

But I think there is an autism epidemic, and I’ll tell you why. Since the autism epidemic is now at least 20 years old (I peg the start at 1990), there are fewer people with accurate memory of severe autistics in the population from before that time. Of course we all remember odd ducks; they have always been with us. But what about the seriously impaired ones? They should have made up about 1 in 200 of the population from back then, undiagnosed, assuming that half of the autistics being diagnosed now are severe, and the other half are more like odd ducks.

I am one with a clear memory of the situation involving my autistic brother, born in 1955, not speaking until he was 5 years old. He appeared to us to be one of a kind. We were shocked to eventually find out there were others like him, and we didn’t find this out till he was in his late thirties or forties. In fact he was 1 in 10,000 or something like that.

You think I’m just a biased person so you’ll dismiss me? There’s someone else who remembers too. In our local newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there was an article yesterday about a 38-year-old autistic man, born in 1973. The reporter, Sarah Bryan Miller, quoted the autistic man’s mother, Phyllis Kuhns:

“I was suspecting there was something wrong, I guess, by the time he was 2, but I didn’t know it was autism. He started out talking at the usual age, saying ‘mama’ and ‘dada,’ and then he stopped.

“He would be very animated, and then he’d get this faraway look on his face, like he wasn’t all there, like he was somewhere else mentally,” she added. With no diagnosis, he was shifted around to different schools in the Special School District. “I think he was about 8 when they finally decided (autism) might be it.”

Clearly he also seemed to be one of a kind. It’s not like that at all now; special ed classes are full of autistic kids who can’t function in the regular classroom. The autism epidemic is real, folks. Things are seriously wrong. Something in our environment is poisoning our children, at least 1 in 100 of them. Aren’t you worried about what it might be? Aren’t you worried that the FDA is not protecting the public, but rather the corporations that churn out untested chemicals and barely-tested medicines and vaccines?

Oddly enough, my brother and this man David Kuhns both have prodigious musical gifts. David plays classical music on his church’s organ, while my brother plays various instruments in a band for autistic savants, the Hi Hopes, in the Los Angeles area. My brother played the organ as one of his first instruments.

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/organist-with-autism-speaks-through-his-music/article_9f41edc5-5d35-504c-8798-fa03633500d9.html#ixzz1lcLfJ7SQ

A study of autism outcome in vaccinated vs unvaccinated: found?

A frequent commenter on this blog, Mike, is a skeptic on Yasko and the possible autism-vaccine connection.

On a recent post of mine, “News media accepting illogic on autism and vaccines again,” I said, “Research has NOT INVESTIGATED these further possibilities (of a link between autism and multiple vaccines). Here are the ones that come to mind:

“1. The immature immune system (first day of life and following) cannot deal with the vaccines, at least in some cases.

“2. Taking multiple vaccines at the same time may overwhelm the young immune system.

“3. A vaccine ingredient, currently unidentified, is toxic to some children.

“These have NOT been tested. … As I have said before, a simple study could settle this question: comparing autism rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.  Are the medical people AFRAID to do it?”

Mike in response posted links to reports on a study that did compare autism outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations, done by the Danish Epidemiological Center, published in 2003. It found no correlation between vaccination and autism. Here are the links:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12421889

And the follow up

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12523209

Thank you, Mike! I am interested to see this.

Unfortunately, at closer inspection, it isn’t the comparison that I am calling for. I would like to see a comparison of the full set of vaccinations that are currently required for kids in the US, against no vaccinations at all. There are enough conscientious objectors now that this is possible.

The kids in Denmark aren’t in the same situation as the kids in the U.S. Here’s why: the kids in the U.S. get three times as many vaccine shots as the ones in Denmark, according to a study by Generation Rescue in April, 2009.  That shows 36 required shots in the U.S., compared to 12 in Denmark.

This study Mike linked to simply asked the question whether and when the child received the MMR vaccine, and symptoms related only to that vaccine.  It is one of the studies that apparently proves that the MMR vaccine, as used in Denmark at the time, by itself does not cause autism. This was a large study, looking at more than 500,000 children, the kind of study that should uncover correlations if there are any.

So, now I am asking again for a study investigating the effect of multiple vaccines on American children. This study doesn’t answer that question.

By the way, the Generation Rescue study looked at published statistics from 34 developed countries. The US has the most required shots, or doses, of any of them, and also the worst mortality rate for children under 5 of any of them. The average number of doses is 13, for these 34 countries, compared to our 36.

Autism and vaccines: Associated Press, Time Mag. got it wrong

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There was an article in today’s paper by the Associated Press that declared that the autism-vaccine question has been settled. Funny, that’s news to me.

The reporter, Carla K. Johnson in Chicago, wrote, “…much has been written about research that has failed to find a link between vaccines and autism.”  Just a single study raised the question, she said, and it has been retracted. Case closed:  “Fear of a vaccine-autism connection stems from a flawed and speculative 1998 study that recently was retracted by a British medical journal. The retraction came after a council that regulates Britain’s doctors ruled the study’s author acted dishonestly and unethically.”

Whether that particular study was retracted because of politics is a matter of debate. This was the study that suggested that the measles vaccine in the MMR shot causes autism.  The sample size was tiny, and results were debatable.

Time Magazine on Feb. 25 made a similar claim: “And yet research conclusively shows that vaccines are safe for children; just last month, the U.K. scientist who had published a study linking the MMR shot to autism was found by a British medical panel to have acted unethically.”

I would like to tell these under-informed and surely well-meaning news reporters that there are manifold reasons why and how vaccines could cause autism, and this retracted study addressed only one possibility, that of the measles virus in the MMR somehow running amok.

Another possible vaccine-autism link that seems discredited is the theory that thimerosal, a mercury additive in pre-2001 shots, causes autism. Here’s why it’s discredited–despite the fact that there’s no thimerosal in the shots, autism rates continue to rise.

Therefore, if there is an autism-vaccine link, it probably has to do with something besides those two possible causes. For example, the “too many, too soon” theory which says that the many many sticks that kids get these days, at a very young age, could be a cause. There are other possibilities that we don’t know about yet.

What we do know is:

* that the autism epidemic has risen alongside the number of required shots

* that the anecdotal evidence, including before-and-after videos on Youtube, is overwhelming from families reporting regression soon after taking shots

* that the autism epidemic surely has at least partly an environmental cause, because an epidemic cannot have a solely genetic cause

* that vaccines under development are tested alone, not in combination with others, and

* that the medical establishment has a huge vested interest in creating and marketing vaccines.

What we need is a definitive study that compares vaccinated populations and unvaccinated.  THAT study would prove it one way or another, not the tiny measles vaccine study that appeared to be flawed.  The Associated Press article I am discussing reports on a University of Michigan phone survey a year ago of 1,552 parents inquiring about whether they were vaccinating their children.  It’s a shame surveyors didn’t also inquire about whether their children are autistic, permitting correlation of the two pieces of data.

Photo by M. Bartosch at freedigitalphotos.net

Those with Allergies in the Family Are at Higher Risk

Bryan Jepson, MD, says that families most susceptible to autism are those that have a history of allergies.  It is these families that have common gene mutations which may contribute to autism, he says.

Dr. Jepson takes a chapter to explain the immune system in layman’s terms. I will boil it down in this way: when live foreign material, an antigen, enters the body, a T-helper cell (a white blood cell) decides what to do. This “Th” for T helper cell decides whether to invoke a Th1 response or a Th2 response.

  • The Th1 response attacks using cells, effective against viruses and some bacteria.
  • The Th2 response creates antibodies, more effective against pathogens outside the cells.

The immune system can become damaged, and the Th “general” starts making wrong decisions. If it calls for too many Th2 responses,  allergies result. In addition, the individual is less able to fight off viruses.  This can also cause widespread autoimmune reactions, where the body is attacking itself all the time.

Dr. Jepson cited a number of studies which have demonstrated that the quantity and function of immune cells are abnormal in children with autism. Researchers have also found plenty of evidence of food allergies in autism. Campbell et al found a common gene mutation to be a risk factor for autism; this MET gene is involved in brain, immune system, and gastro-intestinal tract.

So someone with a genetically weak immune system (family history of allergies) is exposed to a level of toxins that causes the immune system to become damaged. Then the body reacts toward most antigens with the Th2 response, whether that’s appropriate or not.  As a result, the individual may get a lot of allergies, particularly food allergies. In addition, a virus (from a vaccine?) may not be dealt with by the immune system, and could be causing autism according to some theorists.

In fact, many studies have shown cases where viral infections including measles have induced autism, says Jepson. “It’s thought that these pathogens induce an immune response, resulting in neuroinflammation, autiimmune reaction, and brain injury,” says Jepson (p. 63).

An English team led by Andrew Wakefield published a study in 1998 examining 12 consecutive children referred to their clinic for chronic gastrointestinal symptoms and developmental disorders.  Eight of the children were believed by their parents to have regressed because of the MMR vaccine. Wakefield found extreme bowel inflammation, especially in the small intestine, in all the children. He theorized that the measles virus in the MMR vaccine in some children creates an abonormal immune response that allows the measles virus to persist chronically.  This gut inflammation allows toxins to enter the bloodstream from food or bacteria, ultimately causing secondary brain injury and autistic behaviors.

Jepson lays out the resulting storm of controversy following Wakefield’s publication, and concludes that there is not yet a conclusive answer to the question of how the MMR might be connected to autism.

Jepson, Bryan, MD, and Jane Johnson, Changing the Course of Autism, Sentient Publications, 2007, 354 pages

One in Six

I am thinking about this book I just read. Bryan Jepson, M D, wrote Changing the Course of Autism, publishing it in 2007. He reported that in 2004 the CDC “published an autism ‘ALARM,’ acknowledging that the current rate of autism spectrum disorders in the US was one in 166.”

The most alarming statistic though is this one:   Also in 2004, the CDC noted that a developmental disability and/or behavior problem was being diagnosed in one child out of every six.

A few years have passed; now it is 2009. But there isn’t any evidence that the epidemic is slowing down. The graphs in Jepson’s book all show rising rates of change.