Online JREF pseudo-skeptics, take note, From Michael Shermers own backyard, again, Scientific American,
a New Study,
Autism, Linked to Environment,
Research links soaring incidence of the mysterious neurological autism disorder, to fetal and infant exposure, to pesticides, viruses, household chemicals,
January 9, 2009,
California's sevenfold increase in autism cannot be explained by changes in doctors' diagnoses and most likely is due to environmental exposures, University of California scientists reported Thursday.
The scientists who authored the new study advocate a nationwide shift in autism research to focus on potential factors in the environment that babies and fetuses are exposed to, including pesticides, viruses and chemicals in household products.
"It's time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism in California," said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an epidemiology professor at University of California, Davis who led the study.
Throughout the nation, the numbers of autistic children have increased dramatically over the past 15 years. Autistic children have problems communicating, and interacting socially and cognitive deficits ; the symptoms usually are evident, by the time the child is a toddler.
More than 3,000 new cases of autism were reported in California in 2006, compared with 205 in 1990. In 1990, 6.2 of every 10,000 children born in the state were diagnosed with autism by the age of five, compared with 42.5 in 10,000 born in 2001, according to the study, published in the journal Epidemiology. The numbers have continued to rise since then.
To nail down the causes, scientists must unravel a mystery, What in the environment has changed since the early 1990s that could account for such an enormous rise in the brain disorder?
For years, many medical officials have suspected that the trend is artificial--due to changes in diagnoses, or migration patterns, rather than a real rise in the disorder.
But the new study concludes, that those factors cannot explain, most of the increase in autism.
Hertz-Picciotto and Lora Delwiche of the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences, analyzed 17 years of state data, that tracks developmental disabilities, and used birth records and Census Bureau data, to calculate the rate of autism and age of diagnosis.
The results, Migration to the state had no effect. And changes in how and when doctors diagnose the disorder and when state officials report it can explain less than half of the increase.
Dr. Bernard Weiss, a professor of environmental medicine and pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center who was not involved in the new research, said the autism rate reported in the study "seems astonishing." He agreed that environmental causes should be getting more attention.
The California researchers concluded that doctors are diagnosing autism at a younger age, because of increased awareness. But that change is responsible for only about a 24 percent increase, in children reported to be autistic by the age
"A shift toward younger age at diagnosis, was clear but not huge," the report says.
Also, a shift in doctors diagnosing milder cases explains another 56 percent increase. And changes in state reporting of the disorder could account for around a 120 percent increase.
Combined, Hertz-Picciotto said those factors "don't get us close" to the
600 to 700 percent increase in diagnosed cases.
That means the rest is unexplained and likely caused by something that pregnant women or infants are exposed to, or a combination of genetic, and environmental factors.
"There's genetics and there's environment. And genetics don't change in such short periods of time," Hertz-Picciotto, a researcher at UC Davis' M.I.N.D. Institute, a leading autism research facility, said in an interview Thursday.
Many researchers have theorized that a pregnant woman's exposure to chemical pollutants, particularly metals and pesticides, could be altering a developing baby's brain structure, triggering autism.
Many parent groups believe that childhood vaccines are responsible because they contained thimerosal, a mercury compound used as a preservative. But thimerosal was removed from most vaccines in 1999, and autism rates are still rising,
It should be noted that in 1999, the health officials asked , but did not require , manufacturers to remove mercury from children's vaccines. No vaccines were ever recalled, and it took years for manufacturers to reduce mercury to "trace" amounts.
Furthermore, the argument over vaccines is about more than just the mercury. Other neurotoxins are present, plus the MMR contains three live viruses given at once. The vaccine schedule more than tripled since 1983, yet there's never been a study to determine the effect of so many vaccines so soon on the health of a child.
Finally, it should be noted that a top U.S. researcher is
sounding the alarm over the vaccine schedule.
former head of the National Institutes of Health interviewed on CBS Evening News, on May 12. She challenged the credibility of the CDC, a
nd admonished officials for refusing to investigate a susceptible subgroup of children who are unable to eliminate the toxins in vaccines.
This admission that there hasn't been enough research, and that epidemiological studies are not proof is a major step toward public recognition about what's happened to our children.
Healy said that officials have been too quick to dismiss a link between vaccines and autism without ever studying the group that got sick. There never have been studies done on the kids that developed symptoms of autism within a few weeks of being vaccinated. She furthermore pointed out that the Institute of Medicine which produced the cumulative study on vaccines and autism in 2004 refused to 'pursue susceptibility groups.' In other words, they didn't want to find any evidence that linked vaccines to autism . She left us with the haunting statement: ' The question has not been answered.'
And a responder writes,
The surge in autism is similar to the rise in childhood asthma, which has reached epidemic proportions for unexplained reasons. Medical officials originally thought that, too, might be due to increased reporting of the disease, but now they acknowledge that many more children are asthmatic than in the past. Experts suspect that environmental pollutants or immune changes could be responsible.
Acetaminophen (the most common pain killer), use is most likely the culprit here, since acetaminophen is known to deplete glutathione. Without glutathione, the body's ability to detoxify itself is greatly impaired , leading to oxidative stress. Glutathione is critically important to both bowel and lung function. Note when autism and asthma started spiking...it was after they linked aspirin to Reye's Syndrome ,and Tylenol became much more widely used. Babies are often given Tylenol before vaccination , and pregnant women are told that the only "safe" drug to take is acetaminophen.
So skeptics, do remember, your Dr Michael Shermer, columnist in Scientific American, has only a Phd in the history of science fiction , so while you all claim to be paragons of logic, and scientific purity, what a bizarre leader, you all, revere ! A science fiction historian ! What does this say about the skeptic movement? And YOURSELF, dear skeptic ? Cognitive deficits ? Due to vitamin D deficiency?