Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another rag nuances CDC's autism statistics, vaccines not suspected

No evidence vaccines are to blame for this "surprising" new data, and those suggesting they are are just a "vocal minority". Instead let's focus on whether these children even have autism, and never address the fact that, even if they are being misdiagnosed at times, these are still children with cognitive dysfunction, and of course play completely dumb about what could possibly be causing it all. Like the explosion in cancer, and alzheimers, it's not really due to anything other than a faulty genealogy; all completely normal. Just shut up and live with it. I guess give credit to Newsweek on this one. The Atlantic story didn't mention vaccines at all; Newsweek gives it a whopping one sentence, if only to attempt to discredit the notion outright.

Sometimes I wish I was still plugged in, so I could just read a simple news story without noticing that every word of it is a lie, including "and" and "the".

    Newsweek -

    For years the autism community's most powerful public-relations weapon has been a striking statistic: an estimated 1 in 150 children have the diagnosis. Now it appears that estimate is actually too small. According to two new studies, the number of kids diagnosed with autism or a related disorder in the U.S. is closer to 1 in 100.

    The new data has everyone who cares about autism abuzz. But, as with so many issues connected to the disorder, no one can quite agree on what it means.

    One of the new studies, published in Pediatrics, is based on a survey of more than 78,000 parents. Researchers asked them if doctors had ever diagnosed any of their children with autism or a related disorder on the autism spectrum, such as Asperger syndrome. More than 1,400 of the parents said yes. If those numbers represent the population at large, that means 673,000 American kids likely have a form of autism.

    Parent surveys often yield unreliable data because respondents may misremember or misunderstand what doctors have told them. But the Pediatrics study is backed up by a second, more reliable set of data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The full results aren't out yet, but on Friday, CDC researchers reported that one in 100 8-year-olds has been labeled with a disorder on the autism spectrum. That number is based on the same methods that yielded the original 1-in-150 statistic—so using CDC data alone, it's certain that autism diagnoses are on the rise.

    That, however, is where the certainty stops. In the contentious autism community, two debates are constantly simmering: How many more children actually have autism now than had it in the past? And what are the underlying causes? The new numbers don't just fail to resolve either of these debates—they turn up the heat on both.

    A rise in autism spectrum diagnoses doesn't necessarily mean a precisely corresponding rise in actual cases. Doctors may be inflating the numbers inadvertently by diagnosing the disorder more readily than they used to. Many doctors now diagnose autism and related disorders in children they might once have classified differently. Also, they may be more likely to give a child a diagnosis if they think that will help the child's parents obtain special-education services from public schools. Some are even willing to diagnose autism as a co-morbid condition in "people with clearly identifiable genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome—which is something that nobody would have dreamed of doing in the past," says Roy Grinker, a George Washington University anthropologist (and father of a child with autism) who believes the new numbers largely reflect an increase in diagnosis rather than actual illness.

    At the same time, there's good evidence that more children actually are suffering from autism. In January, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, analyzed a seven- to eightfold increase in diagnoses in their state since 1990. Fully 56 percent of that increase could be explained by doctors' diagnosing milder cases they might not have diagnosed before, says Irva Hertz-Picciotto, who led the study. Another 24 percent came from doctors diagnosing cases in younger children. But that still leaves 20 percent of the huge increase unexplained—and, says Hertz-Picciotto, that part is real.

    Scientists know something about the genetics of autism. They've found genes that are loosely linked to the disorder on practically every chromosome. But they know less about environmental factors, which could include heavy metals, pesticides, flame retardants, or many other culprits. A vocal minority of advocates, of course, is also concerned about vaccinations, although there's no solid evidence that vaccines are linked to autism. "More than ever, environmental factors are being recognized as important," says Cathy Rice, a CDC researcher who led the agency's new study. "But our research tools just are not as good for understanding them."

    Many autism research advocates feel that environmental factors have gotten short shrift from the National Institutes of Health, which has largely focused on genetics so far. The new data may help them make their case as the government winds up a review of its research priorities. The new numbers don't explicitly point toward any single environmental factor, but genetics alone can't account for such a steep rise in the number of cases, because genes don't change that quickly.

    Still, that's no reason to stop doing genetic research and focus exclusively on the environment. The two types of research can complement each other. If scientists can figure out which genes are turned on or off (or up or down) in autism, they'll be able to narrow their long list of potential environmental villains and focus on those that affect the relevant genes.

    Here's where the second debate comes in: if more kids are developing autism-spectrum disorders, what's causing the increase? As with most illnesses,both genetics and environmental factors almost certainly play a role: As the popular analogy goes, genetics loads the gun and the environment pulls the trigger. Kids may be genetically predisposed to autism, but they won't develop it unless they're exposed to outside factors that affect the activity of their faulty genes.

    Amidst the controversy over how much of the increase in autism diagnoses is real and what's causing it, there's a third puzzle in the new data that's been generally overlooked: the phenomenon of "lost diagnoses." Why did 38 percent of parents in the Pediatrics study whose children were at one time diagnosed with autism report that their kids no longer had the condition? Geri Dawson, chief scientific officer for the advocacy group Autism Speaks, says it's possible that these kids no longer have classic symptoms of autism but continue to have other problems—anxiety disorders, tics, or forms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. "We really don't know how children who lose their diagnosis fare after time," she notes. It's possible that some were misdiagnosed in the first place. It's also possible that there's good news hiding in the Pediatrics study—that many of the kids who started with an autism diagnosis managed to get better, probably after extensive behavioral therapy.

    Ultimately, there's only one thing that everyone in the autism community agrees on—the need for more funding. That's something people outside the community seem to agree with, too. In February, the federal government funneled $85 million in stimulus grants toward new autism research at the National Institute of Mental Health. The Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also has $48 million in new funding for autism research this year. It'll be a long time before any of that money translates into findings that can help kids with autism and send the 1-in-100 number back down. But perhaps new research will tell us how the number got so high in the first place.


  1. I see that you have chosen, once again to ignore the evidence and champion an unsubstantiated theory that has been proven incorrect by study after study after study. Your byline says "THEY MUST FIND IT DIFFICULT, THOSE WHO TAKE AUTHORITY AS THE TRUTH, RATHER THAN TRUTH AS THE AUTHORITY." Where is your truth? You've provided no evidence for your assertions at all, but simply speculation. Speculation is not truth.

    The reasons these articles don't mention vaccines as a cause are that vaccines have been ruled out as a cause by large epidemiological research studies in the US, Britain, Denmark and Sweden. Please read the following, peer-reviewed, government-funded, independent articles, and then respond directly. I can't believe you cite as evidence the quotes you posted yesterday, every one of which I showed does not constitute evidence of your assertion.

    Please stop with this campaign of lies and misinformation. It's really tiring for us in the autism community to continually have to point to the evidence over and over again to negate this assertion. I suspect the one reason so much more funding is needed is that these researchers have had to spend so much time gathering the data to investigate the non-existent link between autism and vaccines. If these researchers were able to use their time more profitably we might be closer to the real causes. Put another way, I've never seen more independent scientific data amassed that all points towards the same conclusion.


    O’Leary JJ, Uhimann V,Wakefield AJ.Measles virus and autism.
    Lancet 2000; 356: 772

    Taylor B, Miller E, Farrington CP, et al. Autism and measles,
    mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for
    a causal association. Lancet 1999; 353: 2026-9

    Farrington CP, Miller E, Taylor B. MMR and autism: further
    evidence against a causal association. Vaccine 2001; 19:

    Gillberg C, Heijbel H.MMR and autism. Autism1998; 2: 423-4
    Kaye JA, delMar Melero-MontesM, Jick H. Mumps, measles,
    and rubella vaccine and the incidence of autism recorded by
    general practitioners: a time trend analysis. BMJ 2001; 322:

    Dales L, Hammer SJ, Smith NJ. Time trends in autism and in
    MMR immunization coverage in California. JAMA 2001;
    285: 1183-5

    Rodier PM, Hyman SL. Early environmental factors in autism.
    MRDD Res Rev 1998; 4: 121-8

  2. And another thing - the one line you say that mentions vaccines, is actually too limited:

    "A vocal minority of advocates, of course, is also concerned about vaccinations, although there's no solid evidence that vaccines are linked to autism."

    What it should say is "although there IS solid evidence that vaccines are NOT linked to autism., see the Institute of Medicine's unprecedented large review for details."

  3. Well Joe the very first two words - "No evidence" - contain a link to supporting evidence that shows vaccines cause autism.


    But vaccines are the medical community's sacred cow, and no one must know the correlation, even though almost everyone does. Follow the bouncing ball: more and more vaccines, containing massive dosages of mind-destroying substances: mercury...aluminum...formaldehyde, antifreeze, detergents, etc, entering our bodies via an unnatural route - injection - directly into our muscle tissue and bloodstream; more and more autism. But the same medical and science community that wants to wipe out 80-90% of the population and tells us rat poison/sodium fluoride is good for our teeth has told you vaccines don't cause autism, and you've swallowed it hook line and sinker.

    And finally, I take exception to your insistence that people like me stop spreading "disinformation" and "lies". If what I'm saying has already been refuted, then people can figure that out on their own. I am a father of two and I will not put my children's lives in the hands of other people when I am perfectly capable of figuring this out on my own, as any parent is. The whole reason we have an autism epidemic in the first place is people like you insist the rest of us not bother thinking for ourselves and "defer to the experts", never knowing that the so-called experts we're blindly trusting our children's lives with would fit in better at a Nazi concentration camp than the American medical community.

  4. Hello
    I did not have any idea about this.Thank you very much for sharing this with us so we could know about all this thing on autism.I think people should not trust blindly on this.


  5. OK - please follow that link you cite and then read what I posted about all of those pieces of "evidence". If you had bothered to read what I had written, you would know already that I followed that link and made some very strong arguments against the level of support that they provide for you hypothesis.

    Of 19 links, about 17 are nothing but someone else saying the same conjecture that you did. I'm sorry, but that is not evidence - you are simply reasserting your point through someone else's voice! That is the hallmark of taking authority as truth and to pass it off as data is incredibly disingenuous. Of the remaining, you fail to cite which studies showed these links. Please provide the actual studies and I'll take a look at them. That's what free-thinking is - evaluating the evidence.

    What you're doing here is nothing like free-thinking, but is rather trusting blindly in your opinion, first, without evidence for it, and second, much more egregious, in the face of overwhelming evidence against it. You trumpet this flag of being disconnected from the MSM and pride yourself in knowing the truth, but in doing so, you have thrown away reason, good research skills and dispassionate evaluation of the evidence.

    You can take exception all you like to what I say, but if what you're saying has already been refuted, then you should post a disclaimer ahead of each post saying "I know I'm lying, because this has already been refuted, but....." Then the people that read your site will know the truth as it is.

    I noticed that you have not bothered to read the peer-reviewed articles I cited. Please read them and disagree on the content before making such unsubstantiated claims as "The whole reason we have an autism epidemic in the first place is people like you insist the rest of us not bother thinking for ourselves and "defer to the experts", never knowing that the so-called experts we're blindly trusting our children's lives with would fit in better at a Nazi concentration camp than the American medical community."

    Am I to take from this statement that I'm the reason there is an autism epidemic? Thinking for yourself means reading and evaluating primary sources. That means reading the actual research articles that have investigated a link between autism and vaccines. Since you have not done so, you are in no place to speak truth.

  6. Sorry Joe, I don't hang on your every word, on my own blog. I'll try to do better from now on. The evidence is not "overwhelming" against it. What we have here is, a case of you trusting the establishment, and me not trusting the establishment. You can produce a thousand 'studies' funded by government and big pharma showing autism is not caused by vaccines, and I wouldn't pay attention to a single one of them. Because the same establishment who tells us sodium fluoride is good for our teeth, despite its Nazi origins, the fact that it's an industrial waste product, and the active ingredient in rat poison and pesticides; the same establishment that tells us mercury is beneficial to pregnant women and children with developing brains, mercury in amalgam fillings is harmless, etc etc etc, is the same establishment publishing the worthless 'studies' you're citing to 'refute' my claims. Vaccines are modern medical quackery, Nazi-esque experimentation. I don't know how a man such as yourself can claim to be learned and informed yet deny the fact that injecting children with vicious neurotoxins doesn't damage their developing brains. So, please, by all means, waste your time posting massive amounts of fiction, and forgive me if I don't pay an iota of attention to it.

  7. Believe what you want to believe, that's fine. But please don't pass it off as truth.

    " I don't know how a man such as yourself can claim to be learned and informed yet deny the fact that injecting children with vicious neurotoxins doesn't damage their developing brains." - If you had bothered to read what I wrote, which of course you didn't, you would know I never claimed that. I said there was no link between mercury-containing vaccines autism, which there isn't.

    If you want to extrapolate from a simple refutation of a hypothesis to claim that I cause autism, that I am the Nazis, that vaccines are modern medical quackery then fine also, there's little I can do to stop you. I never made any statements about any other vaccines, about neurotoxins in general, about fluoride or anything.

    I'm sorry that you won't read scientific evidence because it doesn't match your definition of the truth. Sounds a lot like blind faith to me.

  8. I simply consider the source, Joe. So should you. Again, if they'll put out studies telling us fluoride is harmless and good for our teeth, they'll put out studies telling us vaccines have no link to autism. When they admit they're lying about fluoride, GMO foods, aspartame, MSG, high fructose corn syrup (also containing mercury), as well as the neurotoxicity of mercury, which they deny as well, then I'll start taking their research seriously. They lie about everything else; why should I believe their claims that vaccines do not cause autism?

    To me the correlation is clear: our children are given more and more (unnecessary) vaccines, and more and more of them are brain damaged.

    Riddle me this, Joe: why do Amish people, who do not vaccinate their children, have an autism rate near zero?

  9. I appreciate your skepticism, I really do. I'm a skeptic myself. I'm a scientist, and training in science requires you to learn skepticism. What I don't appreciate is calling all scientists "they" and tarring us all with the same brush.

    By your definition, those scientists responsible for the invention of anaesthesia, of post-surgical pain-relief allowing people to survive surgery, for the invention of antibiotics and antivirals that have partially led to the increase in life expectancy from about 35 to 80 as it is today, are the same scientists that tell you that mercury is not neurotoxic and want to hurt you with GMO foods.

    That is just plain unfair, and, I think, does a disservice to the many scientists in 4 different countries (with 4 different sets of political/societal pressures) who worked on the epidemiological studies on thimerosal and vaccine. They are not working for "big pharma", they did not tell you fluoride was safe, and that MSG is safe. They simply did some studies looking at the association between one variable and another, and found no link. To lump them in with the Nazis is counter-productive and just plain false.

    Amish and autism: http://autism.about.com/b/2008/04/23/do-the-amish-vaccinate-indeed-they-do-and-their-autism-rates-may-be-lower.htm