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Autism Day in the shadow of Wakefield
April 2nd, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Autism Day in the shadow of Wakefield

Four years after the first United-Nation-declared World Autism Awareness Day,  the cause of the developmental disorder is still unknown and there is no cure.

Autism affects an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States, according to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children with autism spectrum disorders have disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can surface when babies are as young as 12 months, but often become obvious at around age 2. Diagnosing children as early as possible can lead to early intensive therapy which can sometimes lead to significant improvements in a child’s life.

Perhaps highest profile event related to autism since the last Autism Day was the British Medical Journal’s January publication of a three-part study deconstructing and declaring “fraudulent” the controversial 1998 research of Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield’s study had linked the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism. For more than a decade Wakefield’s work contributed to many parents not getting their children vaccinated for fear of the vaccines causing autism.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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