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Scientists warn of chemical-autism link
June 7th, 2011
06:43 PM ET

Scientists warn of chemical-autism link

Autism and environmental health experts called for greater scrutiny of chemicals found in the environment, which could potentially lead to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, in a conference call Tuesday.

"We live, breathe and start our families in the presence of toxic chemical mixtures and constant low-level toxic exposures, in stark contrast to the way chemicals are tested for safety," said Donna Ferullo, Director of Program Research at The Autism Society.

"Lead, mercury, and other neurotoxic chemicals have a profound effect on the developing brain at levels that were once thought to be safe," she said.

Autism spectrum disorders are being diagnosed at unprecedented rates, partly because of improved diagnostic tools and criteria, but also a host of other factors including what mothers-to-be are exposed and consequently their unborn children too, said Irva Hertz-Piccotto, Chief of the Division of Environmental Health at the University of California, Davis, and a faculty member at the Mind Institute.

About 1 in 110 children in the United States has autism, a group of developmental disorders that lead to impairments in behavior, communication and socialization. The cost of autism is staggering: $3.2 million for the care of a person with autism throughout his or her life; behavioral therapy can be hard to come by and be very limited,  and most medications don't help much.

Studies have strongly suggested a genetic component in the cause of autism, but it's becoming clear that genetics alone isn't the whole story; there could be interactions between susceptibility genes and environmental chemicals.

Recent research from her group, appearing in the journal Epidemiology, showed that prenatal vitamins taken prior to conception seem to interact with certain metabolizing genes that are inherited.  Those women who did not take the vitamins, and had the high-risk genotypes, were more likely to have a child with autism.  Still, this was a small study limited in scope, and more research should be done to confirm these findings.

The central nervous system of the fetus is sensitive to a wide range of chemicals, Hertz-Piccotto said.  Hormones, such as estrogens and androgens, are essential for proper brain development. Endocrine-disrupting compounds need more research, she said. Flame-retardant chemicals called PBDEs interfere with the body's hormones.  Even though many of them are no longer used in manufacturing, they can hang around in the environment and the human body for a long time.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is aware of concerns about these chemicals and is working on accessing substitutions (see the action plan).

Bisphenol A, present in plastic food packaging and water bottles, among other products, is another big concern, she said, because it could interfere with the body's natural estrogen system; antimicrobials added to soaps, toothpaste and other products can artificially enhance androgenic activity.

"That means that they could potentially play a role in autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders," Hertz-Piccotto said.

Moreover, many children with autism spectrum disorders have abnormal immune responses. The chemical messengers in the immune system interact with the receptors in the brain, so chemicals that affect immunity could also be implicated in autism.

Thyroid dysfunction is common in children with autism that psychiatrist Dr. Suruchi Chandra sees, even though that's not part of the classical symptoms of the condition.  She believes the abnormalities are due to the thyroid hormone disruptors such as BPA and flame retardants.

"Thyroid hormone is critical for brain development in early life, and even small alterations in hormone levels can have serious consequences; long-lasting and perhaps irreversible consequences in terms of brain function," she said.

Air pollution from traffic and certain pesticides have also been shown to have associations with autism, studies have shown.  Maternal conditions could partially result from chemicals in the environment.

Andy Igrejas, National Campaign Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, called for an update of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has proposed a stricter version that would require all industrial chemicals to be tested for safety.

UPDATE: Since so many of you have asked, I wanted to clarify that this discussion does not relate to vaccines. The scientific evidence available has shown again and again that vaccines do not cause autism.


soundoff (1,210 Responses)
  1. john

    Would like to see the rate of autism among poor americans vs middle class. Growing up poor we had very limited exposure to baby stuff... we didn't even have diapers, parents used rags and then washed them by hand...no detergiants..no bottles, no plastics per se, limited exposure to ALL the chemicals that surround mother and child, not even a car or car seat LOL Not even dish soap, just hot water. Man I was poor! Haha!

    June 8, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ashley

      autism is actually much higher in children of highly educated, well off families. however, this could be due to better access to healthcare...there has yet to be a definitive study proving which is more correct

      June 8, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • mm

      Would also be interesting to study children from other nations who are not vaccinated with the same vaccines as American kids.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:28 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Unless you live downwind or downstream from a chemical plant or coal slag heap, you are probably much better off without all the plastics etc. that we expose our kids to. Don't forget dioxins too: these are found in bleached paper (such as toilet paper), and dioxins are proven to cause women's reproductive problems, which can affect the fetus.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
    • Raevyn

      @mm How many studies is it going to take before people GET that vaccines don't cause autism?? Do people not also get that Dr. Wakefield has been totally discredited and his study proven to be massively flawed and fraudulent ....the ONLY study to show a link to vaccines?? People who perpetuate the vaccine myth are just people who don't want to believe that autism is genetically-based and that there are other things causing this that they might not want to give up or acknowledge.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Raevyn your an idiot. Go pick up a textbook and do some research and stop spewing nonsense. The autism rate has gone up about a hundred times in the last few decades. Genes don't change significantly over a few decades. 99% of autism is environmentally caused. That is fact. The only thing up for debate is what is causing it. How does it feel to be a stereotypical brainwashed product of the media without a mind of your own?

      June 9, 2011 at 03:37 | Report abuse |
  2. Cheryl

    It's too bad the comments went the vaccination route. The problem is chemicals in EVERYTHING. Our bodies are not bio filters. Chemicals proven to be harmless in tiny amounts are acceptable, but we are constantly bombarded from the shampoo and soap, the water, the food. We consume and spread on our bodies a toxic soup every single day of our lives from birth. People don't realize what power they have, quit trying to blame and have someone else take responsibility. STOP buying those products, you as a consumer have infinite power to put a stop to this, because in the end, it all comes down to profit for these companies, and you have the money they want.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phil

      Cheryl, I have to agree with you. As a healthcare professional, it is extremely disappointing to see how the media can spread false and dangerous views. It is obvious to me that our environment is 100 percent linked to these issues. If parents stop vaccinating their children in the US, I assure anyone that death my PREVENTABLE and life-threatening disease will outweigh any debate on the linkage between vaccines and autism. While there may be some debate between the linkage between vaccinations and autism (which lacks scientific evidence), there is direct evidence to support the linkage between these serious illnesses and death when not prevented.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
    • go cheryl

      well said

      June 8, 2011 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
    • D

      This comment is not about autism, but add sunblock to the list. The EWG came out with some recommendations recently. I prefer to stay out of the sun, if I can.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
    • fjawodfc

      Guess what. Pure water is a "chemical". Stop trying to put a negative connotation on the word. I'll bet you're one of the nuts who fell for the very lucrative organic food scam.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:59 | Report abuse |
    • eze

      Cheryl, there's only one problem with your advice to avoid products that contain chemicals. Everything in nature in made of chemicals. Thats the first thing they teach in a basic high school chemistry class. Apparently you weren't smart enough to take chemistry, but your are a self-proclaimed expert on chemicals and their interaction with the body. If we are to follow your advice and avoid all chemicals, then we can't even breath clean air or drink pure water.

      Why do the ignorant people always claim to know the answers?

      June 9, 2011 at 17:45 | Report abuse |
    • MS From NY

      @fjawodfc and eze are "IGNORANT MORONS" with some bookish knowledge and try to flaunt it with very pathetic results. What Cheryl means by Chemicals is industrial chemicals that normal human beings are not designed to process. Yes we all know chemistry and what the dictionary definition of a Chemical is. Why don't you lookup the meaning of common sense!!

      June 9, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
    • Trish

      You know, I'm on the fence about vaccines causing autism (diabetes, ADHD, and the many other things afflicting our children), but it does have some compelling correlations when you consider the sheer number of people who's kids have had reaction directly after the vaccine. Read enough stories, articles, and peruse the vaccine ingredients lists and side effects and it is pretty bone chilling. (Funny no one has mentioned Aluminum, or the fact that the Hep B shot is given at birth and why). Also, interesting is SIDS...a diagnosis without a cause (and I don't buy the 'they just died.') Something clearly had to have caused it. I wish people would stop bashing each other on their decisions, made by parents in what they feel is the best interest of their child, and start working more towards finding answers together. I have no idea what those answers are, but I do adhere to the policy of doing what is best for myself and my family, which means avoiding certain chemicals, seeking out the better options in household items, personal products, detergents, organic fertilizers, sunblocks, and yes I am one of the 'idiots' who buys into the organic food 'scam.' My kids are mostly vaccinated. Will they have more?? I don't know. I will continue to read, and try and educate myself as best as I can... Hate mongering has no place in this debate and it absolutely makes me sick to read comments by people who think they have all the answers and bash those who have a different view. We won't get anywhere treating each other like morons.

      June 10, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
  3. Raine

    I agree with Laura 100 percent. I am the mother of Autistic sons born in 1986. They were vaccinated as were their two older sisters .The bottom line is we now have a NATION of these children and the numbers keep going up. My sons contracted scarlet fever also...something from the 1800's. For those of you calling parents dumb for their fear and supposition regarding vaccines- consider walking in our shoes for a day, a week, a lifetime..... We have been to hell and back. and for the record it is about the mercury that is throughout the environment. God help us all!

    June 8, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Seraphim0

      sad. Sad for your children. Most of all... sad that you believe the vaccination 'conspiracy theory' of causing autism. Facts never matter to the paranoid, fanatical, or delusional.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • surferboy

      Sorry, a mother's intuition does not replace science or the scientific method.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
    • Rocksor

      @surferboy

      Actually, time and time again a mother's intuition leads to scientific discovery or scientific debunking.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • TjAtl

      Scarlet Fever is caused by the strep bacteria. There's no vaccine for it. But I get your point, and I agree. My niece contracted whooping cough – her mother refused to vaccinate them.
      Three years ago my oldest daughter was diagnosed with P.A.N.D.A.S. She was 6 at the time, and all of a sudden displayed dramatic OCD, ADD, ODD and autistic behaviors. With long-term antibiotic therapy she's fine now. I mention this because there's been an explosion of PANDAS research recently that has begun to dovetail with some autism research. Some children's immune systems go haywire when exposed to some illnesses (in the case of PANDAS, it's strep throat) and begin to attack their own brain. They're finding out that similar mechanisms may apply to some autistic children. I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually determine that some autism is triggered by an autoimmune reaction to some vaccines. To be clear what I'm saying – there's nothing wrong with the vaccines themselves, they prevent deadly illnesses. But some kids have immune systems that get their signals crossed, like my daughter. And maybe environmental chemical exposure affects a person's susceptibility to autoimmune disorders. I don't know – but it sounds very plausible to me.
      We do vaccinate, but after my daughter's diagnosis we never do more than two at a time (for all of the kids, just out of an abundance of caution).

      June 8, 2011 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
    • David

      Oh geez. Scarlet fever is caused by group A Strep bacteria. It's not that uncommon today. This is why people well versed in medicine roll their eyes at people like you.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      There is no well accepted scientific evidence to show that vaccines cause autism! Spouting off this myth only confuses the matter and distracts from the discussion of what really causes autism, which is open to debate. Vaccines definitely help many people, yet the anti-vaccine crowd focuses mainly on the myth that they might cause autism and confuse folks who are wondering about vaccinating their children.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • Lee Anne

      Vaccines are another chemical. It's not ONLY the vaccines that cause autism. It's the chemicals from the vaccines added to the chemicals in the food, and the furniture, and the air, and the water, and the plastic toys and bottles, and the clothing. Little bodies can't handle all of those chemicals. I am not anti-vaccine but vaccines are done too young. Keep the kids as chemical free as possible and do the vaccines later, when the kids are stronger!

      June 8, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • AIKW

      Well I have a child with Autism and I know it was vaccine related. Right after her vaccine when she was 5 she developed the symptoms of autism, prior to that she was 100% happy and healthy! I also know another mother who has twins and when she got there vaccines done, walla, they both developed Autism right after as well, the vaccines were from the same batch. It is the Mercury that prolongs the shelf life of the vaccine that causes it and depending on how long it's been on the self will increase your chances of your child developing autism. I don't know anyone who has Autism run in the family, I don't have it on either side!

      Unless you have a child with Autism and have done the reseach, you shouldn't be commenting and saying it is not the vaccine. I have a medicat doctor who actually agrees with it as well. I also have had my daughter to a Natural Path who does blood anaylsis and she's confirmed as well it is the mercury in the vaccine and it's actually caused damage to my daughters right kidney as well.

      You won't find this anywhere else in the world, only North America. The pharmacutical companies make billions and billions by keeping people sick, so why would they fix it! using anything chemical base is a disaster for our health, we need to go back to good ole fashion medicines and cures!

      June 8, 2011 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • satireattire

      @rocksar

      can you cite some articles displaying a mother's intuition to debunk science?

      June 8, 2011 at 13:56 | Report abuse |
    • fjawodfc

      AIKW, look up the difference between correlation and causation. Hey, last week I ate a cheeseburger, and the next day my daughter had a fever. I "know" the cheeseburger caused her fever!

      June 8, 2011 at 19:02 | Report abuse |
    • toddflanders

      AIKW: Your story if full of cr@p; I've never heard ANYONE claim their kid became autistic after their 5 year old shots. Obviously there was a problem before and you chose to ignore it. There isn't enough time in the day to explain to you how messed up your thought process is.

      June 8, 2011 at 20:03 | Report abuse |
    • Brooke

      AIKW-

      By all means lets go back to leeches and bloodletting and using MERCURY to treat syphilis.

      June 9, 2011 at 02:52 | Report abuse |
    • Lucky

      Have many people commenting actually read any medical journals and current research going on in this field? Not just an occasional acticle on CNN.com or blip on the nightly news? For example, did you know that researchers are now linking one form of diabetes to a specific virus? Yes, caused by the virus. Not crazy, outer-edge scientists, but mainline researchers. There is a theory that the same may possibly be true of autism. Thermisol, mercury and aluminum add to all of our toxic load, but there is a possibilty that the actual virus in the vaccine could be the problem. That it triggers a T2 rather than T1 immune response in our body, starts a chain reaction of autoimmune response and a host of biological problems. It's worth reading beyond a news website and acutally reading science journals and leading research before you assume or comment casually (and cruelly at times). And with the number of people who say their children seem to disappear after the MMR, these people aren't making this up. That doesn't mean we know exactly what the connection is, but when there are repetive cases connected to the timing of a specific vaccine, why wouldn't we look further for any connections/answers? It would be illogical not to search for any connection. Do I think vaccines are the primary problem? I don't know. But it's not just genetics – that's obvious. There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic. And it seems illogical that the increase is primarily due to better screening & diagnosis. The DSM manual published in the late 80s/early 909's actually narrowed the requirements to qualify for an autism diagnosis (not broadened them). So the numbers should have actually gone down, yet they are skyrocketing. If it was truly just due to better diagnosis, then there would be this silent mass of teens and adults with autism whose family never requested or received evaluation & serivices. And I guess they would have had to keep those hidden millions at home instead of in the school system, because they wouldn't have made it through school non-verbal, or hyperactive and stimming, unable to attend tasks or communicate due to lack of any form of treatment. I think this article handles the issues well – there is probably a multiple hit issue going on. Genetic weakness (not cause), environmental triggers or toxic tipping point. There are consist biological issue for kids with autism: immune dysfunction, mitochondrial dysfunction, frequently deficiencies in Omega 3, Vitamin D, Iron, etc. There's a whole lot going on here. But – if you don't have a child with autism and you aren't a researcher, think twice before commenting so casually and often cruely. You have no idea what life is like for these parents. And read up a little more while you're at it.

      June 9, 2011 at 10:41 | Report abuse |
    • eze

      Lucky, You need to read some scientific journals yourself. Yes, Type1 diabetes IS an auto-immune problem and has been classified as such for DECADES. They have recently the likely cause of type-1 diabetes to a virus that casues the common cold. Some people can't fight it off effectively, and the virus splices itself into your DNA.

      To make a claim that the Virus in the vaccine could be responsible for autism makes you just ignorant as anyone esle you criticize...because they don't give you a live virus in vaccines. Your body won't attack itself because your cells aren't infected with the virus. If you do YOUR research, you will find that they have had a high success rate predicting autism in infants with series of behavioral tests. That's means they are able to detect signs of autism LONG before the vaccinations occur, which means that the vaccination is not the cause.

      June 9, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse |
  4. Shane

    The pharmaceutical companies pay "experts" handsomely to state that vaccines do not contribute to autism.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sy2502

      "The pharmaceutical companies pay "experts" handsomely to state that vaccines do not contribute to autism."

      Right! A tin foil hat, on the other hand, is really inexpensive...

      June 8, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • vichin1

      Well Sy, the former director of the CDC is now the President of Merc Vaccinations now... how tin-foil is that?

      June 8, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
    • PedDoc

      The researcher who made the vaccine-autism claim was discovered to have falsified the data in order to promote his own version of measles vaccine.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      The drugs companies make very little profit on vaccines, especially with idiots that believe every conspiracy theory suing them. Most of them would love to get out of the vaccine business.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Vaccines are not very profitable!! That's why very few companies even manufacture vaccines.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
    • toddflanders

      Another common misconception: Drug companies do not make money of vaccines. Merck makes $150 of their Hep B vaccine for a person's lifetime. That's about 2 months worth of cholesterol lowering drugs that people take for decades. Vaccine manufacturing and research is one of the few truly altruistic thing thing that drug companies do.

      June 8, 2011 at 20:06 | Report abuse |
  5. deuce

    It's funny how, before the prevalence of antibacterial EVERYTHING, and people pouring Clorox and other disinfectants around their house trying to turn it into a germ free zone, there were far less incidents of autism, food allergies, and a host of other modern ills.

    I remain convinced that one day we will find a link between our societal germaphobia and a lot of these issues. 3rd world countries don't have these problems like we do. Why is that?

    June 8, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rocksor

      It may not be the fact that we are germ free. Instead look at the chemicals being used to create the germ free environment. How much does it affect the pregnant woman and the fetus in development?

      June 8, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
  6. Romey

    We're going to find out that it's sunscreen that causes autism... I can just see it coming.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. galileo225

    At least the idiots who faked the data got someone to look at it. 1 in 100 kids are being diagnosed with autism. If that was a flu, or cancer or a cold we would be freakin out. Its a huge number- you need to find out why befor its 1 in 2. Screw profits-this is a debilitaiting illness. We need to answer this NOW... Problem is they wont let the scientist do there job and really find the cause.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mr. Grumpy

    Based on this article, everything causes autism. Yet I don't see them citing one well controlled study with sufficient power to support the claims being made. It's all supposition based upon what these chemicals might do. I'm sorry , but there is a big difference between possibility and reality.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • eze

      I agree. Just today, I saw another "Study" that said that prenatal vitamins reduce the risk of autism by 50%. That certainly seems to contradict the assertion that rich people have a higher incidence even though they are the most likely group to take prenatal vitamins.

      The real problem is thatthese junk scientists look at data, see and trend, and report it as fact. If you use REAL scientific methodology, these trends would merely be basis of a hypothesis. If your hypothesis is legit, then you should be able to predict the results in future programs/experiments, and other unbiased scientists should be able to reproduce your results. Too bad the world doesn't work that way.

      Somebody sees a trend in some data, which does not prove cause and effect, then they shoot it out to the media who presents it as fact to the simpletons.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
    • FML Man

      Thank you. I feel like this is the fist logical comment I've read in this thread. There's a lot we dont know. Nor consider. Yikes.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      Yes, perhaps someone should investigate further.
      Nonestly now, did you read the article?

      June 8, 2011 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Grumpy

      Assuming you meant honestly, I honestly did. And what I found was a lot of hypothesis and no supporting scientific research. Basing policy upon belief rather than utilizing the scientific method is something that has happened all too often in modern society.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
  9. a2rjr

    Oh, nobody every thought it might be related to chemicals. Environment a little, the food supply a definite.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • eze

      Also, nobody ever mentions that they modified the definition of Ausitm a few years ago to include Aspergers Syndrome and several other "disorders" that were not previously considered "Autistic." The collection of these disorders is now know as ASD, yet people are quick to say "Look how the number of AUTISM cases has suddenly risen".

      Why should we believe that there is one single cause for various "disorders" that have only recently been assigned a common label. Obviously, there is enough difference in these syndromes and disorders to name and diagnose them differently.

      June 9, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse |
  10. rosehips

    So, mercury has a profound effect on the developing brain but vaccines with thimerosol, which contain mercury, don't cause autism.

    Sy2502, call me a simpleton but at least I researched vaccinations before making my decision not to vaccinate my children. You may think there is no link, but I'll bet you don't know a family whose child changed immediately after receiving immunizations. I do. The change was dramatic and stunning. You would not be so condemning if you experienced what many families have.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JKBoone22

      I know a family who lost a child to mumps. If you lost your baby to a disease you could have easily prevented, could you live with yourself?? I don't know of any children that have died from Autism. That's a heck of a choice.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • Dianne Jensen

      Exactly. My son was on schedule with all of his developmental milestones even though he was born very prematurely. When he received his MMR vaccine at age 18 months, he suddenly stopped talking, lost all language, all eye contact, etc. Do I believe genes and environment are a factor? Sure, but the vaccines are part of the puzzle, 100%. If you don't believe me, come on over and check out my family photo album. You can SEE the difference in my kid. From the happy giggling baby covered in spaghetti head to toe...to the baby who tipped his toy cars over to stim over the spinning wheels. The kid who was a total ham for the camera, to the far off stares.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:31 | Report abuse |
    • God Help Us

      Just because something "contains mercury" does not mean its harmful. This is fundamental chemistry. Mercury in one molecular form can be harmless, while in another form deadly. The biochemical interactions with the body are what matter and the studies say the vaccines are safe. You are wrecklessly putting other people's children as well as your own children at risk by not giving them vaccinations. Furthermore, any contraction of a disease by the unvaccinated can spread throughout the population and cause death. Imagine if some people had refused the smallpox or polio vaccines years ago, those diseases would still be running rampant. The point is, please put aside your conspiracy theories for the sake of your children and the rest of us.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
    • TomC

      The Thimerosal-autism link has been conclusively debunked. Influenza vaccines aside, As of 30 Jan 2007, none of the vaccines routinely recommended for children age 6 or younger contains Thimerosal. There are Thimerosal-free versions of Influenza vaccine available, and those that do contain that preservative have it at 0.01% concentration (roughly 50 micrograms per milliliter; one dose is typically 0.25 or 0.5 milliliters). Despite this the US is not seeing any decline in the rate of diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Most vaccines no longer contain thimerosal! Oh, but wait, it's actually the aluminum that's the problem. After the remove the aluminum, the conspiracy theorists will complain that it's the needle itself. Or maybe it's the phase of the sun when the vaccine is administered. These conspiracy theorists are a bunch of junk "I think I know it all scientists" because they read a couple of articles on the internet. Truth is no one knows the cause of autism, period.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      What you don't see are all the children who are not dead or paralyzed from polio, how many millions of those are out there? Smallpox polio whopping cough ect ect many diseases that have caused terrible suffering and disability eliminated. Unfortunately you do not have the conceptual ability to understand that since you are an ignoramus. I pray for your unfortunate children, needlessly susceptible to terrible pathogens. Moron, child abuser you should be ashamed of yourself. Grow up!

      June 8, 2011 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
    • PartyOnDude

      Since children's vaccines are administered during the same developmental time/age, the argument that vaccines cause or contribute to ASD or Autism isn't the most logical one. Many genetic disorders occur in patients the same age.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:37 | Report abuse |
  11. Keith

    My son is autistic. I have no idea what caused it. What I do know is that we have made kids virtual pin cushions with vaccines and all decisions carry risks. We are over vaccinating our kids. We now even give kids vaccines for chicken pox and HPV. C'mon, It is one thing to protect against polio, measles and WC, but HPV and chicken pox. When does this end? Also, we give kids a dizzying array of vaccines at a very early age. In many cases shots are combined on the same day and or mix may many viruses. Why do we need to assault an immune system in this way? How about spread the vaccines out, one at a time? The reason (I have been told) is that docs and public health authorities are trying to assure compliance and spreading things out leaves open the possibility a patient will not return for future appointments. No one gets sick with mumps measles rublella polio and whopping cough on the same day in the real world. Our kids deserve better than that kind of fast food medicine.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JKBoone22

      Several children die each year from chicken pox. I bet ALL of their mommy's wish they only had autism.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
    • PedDoc

      A single episode of the average cold "assults" the immune system with exponentially more antigens than all the vaccines children recieve in the first 2 years total.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      The immune system is assaulted constantly by bacteria and viruses in the environment. It's designed for constant assault since bacteria are everywhere and on everything! I doubt the immune system cares whether its fighting against measles or just another cold virus or bacterium. It never takes a break and certainly doesn't expect people to wait a few weeks in between exposure to the next bacterium that might try to invade the body. It's designed to handle multiple invaders at once, it has to be, else we'd be extinct.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
    • Kmed77

      Chickenpox is not a harmless virus – not only does it kill children every year, it leads to the debilitating illness Shingles as adults. Shingles in some people can lead to lifelong miserable pain that is difficult to treat – it is definitely worth preventing. HPV causes genital warts and cervical cancer – there are still thousands of women who die from this every year. I think it is ridiculous that you think these illnesses are harmless. Vaccines save lives and prevent suffering. I know elderly people with polio that have lived lifetimes of disability and I am sure they would have preferred to have been vaccinated rather than life that life of disability.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
    • TjAtl

      Agree with Kmed77 – chicken pox is far from harmless. If children get it when they're older it can cause neurological problems. I was 11 when I got it, and it caused Bell's Palsy which thankfully wasn't permanent.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:11 | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      One of the posts above notes a few kids die from chicken pox and that adults might get bells palsy if the get the disease. Others claims that a child is asssulated with more antigens if they get a cold. Each misses the point. There is no precendence in nature to the kinds of multiple simultaneous exposures in combination vaccines admisitered at the same time as other vaccines. We are messing with things we don't understand and seem not to want to study. There is no doubt in my mind that we are taking a risk. Vaccines are important, but we should be far more careful with how we vaccinate, when we vaccinate and what we vaccinate against. And, to JK Boon above who said "Several children die each year from chicken pox. I bet ALL of their mommy's wish they only had autism," I say try living the life of my son who is non-verbal and impaired in a host of ways. I would have rolled the dice on a chicken pox infection and shingles over his difficult and dependant life. The zealots who refuse to eveen inquire into the possibility that the combination of vaccines contributes to autism are the rue members of the flat eartch societ. Shame on them.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Keith- I got vaccinated before MMR (only individual vaccines), and it turned out as an adult I found out that I never received the mumps vaccine. I had an earache the day I was supposed to get it and there was zero follow up. That in a time with a private pediatrician and a stay at home mom. I'm lucky I never got the mumps!

      June 8, 2011 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      JKBOONE:
      Thousands of children die every year from car accidents. I bet ALL of their mommies wished they rode bikes.
      Yours was the worst post here.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
    • JG

      Kieth, I agree. The only logical reason for giving multiple shots and combo vaccines is for convenience, cost savings, and to ensure compliance – none of which carry any weight with me when considering what vaccines to delay or avoid altogether.

      June 10, 2011 at 01:00 | Report abuse |
  12. JC

    This is a non-story. Nearly anyone with a decent education knows that the elation between the chemicals in our environment and an increase in birth defects is well established. The truth is that chemicals are virtually everywhere, and have become so much a part of our modern society that, like fossil fuels, they are nearly impossible to limit or replace. There is a price to be paid for a modern technological society, and autism is one form of payment. There are many others. You want to know why the toxic substances act hasn't been updated, why it is virtually impossible to get the FDA or EPA to commit to any useful program of review or regulation? Those agencies are designed to work WITH corporate America, not against it, and that is by political consent. Whose going to change things, Congress? Seriously, do you realize where the bulk of the money comes for election campaigns? Your representatives are bought and sold like any other commodity. They then muddy the waters, hold hearings without conclusions, challenge evidence or bury it, delay, and generally do exactly what they are being paid to do by the companies to which they owe their position. All this in the name of large short term profits, so that those of you out there who own stock in chemical (and virtually every other industry) companies can obtain as large a quarterly dividend as possible. I guess we'll worry about the future when it gets here, right?

    June 8, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Kay

    The autism-vaccine link persists because there are hundreds of parents with a painfully similar story: they had a perfectly normal, happy one or two year old who they brought in for their regular round of vaccines and the child had a horrific reaction and then began disappearing into autism, losing language, losing eye contact, etc. Is it just a coincidence of timing, for all of them? As a parent, it is terrifying. And, actually, mercury has not been removed from all vaccines given to children - as a parent, you have to ask and demand to make sure you get only the vaccines without thirmerosol. This includes the flu shot. And even if they don't have any mercury, vaccines contain other chemical preservatives, such as aluminum. Has anyone studied the effect of injecting infants with high doses of aluminum? Also, I wonder if anyone has studied the effect of the sheer volume of vaccines on developing brains and immune systems? Any one vaccine, by itself, may be just fine, but kids today get so many at one time. A two month old baby might get 4 shots at one visit, containing 6 different virus/bacteria vaccines. That is alot for someone who weighs maybe 10-12 pounds. And they keep adding new ones.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Diane

      I agree with Kay. Our grandchild is autistic and showed signs of autism after getting the shots. Prior to getting the shots he was advancing very well for his age. I agree vaccines are needed but too much at one time is not working for all kids. If vaccines are determined to be the cause – lawsuits will be huge and parents will not immunize their children for the necessary shots. Something has to be done.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
    • Morgan

      Have you ever heard the Latin phrase:

      post hoc ergo propter hoc

      It means, literally, after which, therefore because of.

      That means that if something happens after an event, that event is the cause of what happened.

      If it rains in the morning, and your dog gets sick in the afternoon, then obviously the rain caused your dog's illness. This logical fallacy is at the heart of the anti-vaccinators arguments. As you can see from the example, it's a riduculous conclusion to draw. One might well point at the breakfast cereal they had the day of their vaccinations and say that the cereal is at fault.

      June 9, 2011 at 00:31 | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Hey Morgan you really are in denial. Stop posting discrediting a parents information because your in denial and don't want to believe anything the government or media doesn't tells you. Get out of your cage and start thinking for yourself. Do you really think it's a coincidence that thousands of kids stop talking the day after their vaccines and regress into autism? Or do you just want to deny it because the government agencies tell you it can't happen?

      Keep in mind not a single one of these vaccines has ever had a long-term study done on their safety. Many of them are released immediately without even any inquiry into safety or complications.

      June 9, 2011 at 03:47 | Report abuse |
  14. Steveo

    Wait, seriously? There are folks that believe that your child can develop autism after having been given an injection or from environmental factors !after! they are born?! I think you mean brain damage maybe, but not Autism or the spectrum, as you are born that way to my knowledge, you guys are talking about degeneration of brain tissue due to external factors. While yes, Autism could be caused from our toxic environment's effect on and through the mother or father, there are literally millions of reasons this could happen to a developing fetus in the womb, that should be examined. A thought would be instead of fighting over the cause, see it for what it actually is and find the cause to make it stop; just a thought...

    June 8, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lee Anne

      Endocrine disruptors change your brain chemistry and cause things like thyroid disorder (which itself changes your brain chemistry). Just the same as LSD, or Oxycotin can. Some changes are more permanent than other. Have you ever seen anyone who's stuck on an acid trip for years?
      These things are not brain damage, since nothing physical is harmed. They are chemical and therefore can be reversed.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
  15. Elinor Kriegsmann

    As a clinical instructor in Speech Pathology at the Univ. Of Washington in the 70's and early 80's, we rarely saw incidences of children with autistic features (forget the label controversyl) This changed in the mid-80's with a major spike in the 90's to the present. The main difference in the past 35 years has also been the spike in environmental and food related toxins. The only control women of child bearing age have is to reduce where possible any toxic chemicals in clothing, furniture, food, toys, home remodel materials, household products, electronic products and on and on. Toxins are pervasive- but for an environment with an infant or a pregnant women, one needs to be very conscious- For example most foods with high-fructose corn syrup (in most processed foods) is processed with a mercury based solution. It is a tragedy of our times and should be a criminal offense for manufacturers and chemical companies to knowingly partake.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MSantoli

      Is it a coincidence that the more plastic products we import from China, the higher the incidence of autism? Almost every product in Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby is made in China. I am just wondering if we are adding to the chemical soup we already have in the U.S. in the worst way by bringing in an intolerable amount from China where there is a lot less quality assurance regulations. Just wondering . . .

      June 8, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
    • Bianca

      Thank you for the information. I noticed problems with wheat products, resulting in joint and muscle pain. But I did not know about corn syrup being processed with mercury! What is the world coming to? And they say we need to trust private sector, and have NO oversight! This is INSANE. Who is going to take care of growing number of childen that cannot take care of themselves. What will happen to them when they grow up and their parents die? What a sad, sad society we are. Yet, there are people in this very forum that attack with ferrocity anybody who expresses concern with the mercury in vaccines? This article, as mushy as it is, at least ADMITS that mercury is implicated. And what happens when you shoot multiple vaccines into a tiny body, adding by far more mercury than the young, developing brain nerve endings can take.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • TjAtl

      My daughter had an autoimmune reaction to strep throat, similar to rheumatic fever (it's called PANDAS). Her immune system began attacking the basal ganglia of her brain. That's "brain damage". Left untreated, it could have been progressive and irreversable. It had nothing to do with a vaccine, but it's not outrageous to think that some children through a combination of genetics and possibly even chemical exposure or even nutrient deficiencies are more susceptible to these types of autoimmune reactions and that their immune system's faulty switch might be "tripped" by vaccination.
      That said, I still choose to vaccinate my children because I feel it is irresponsible not to. The diseases these vaccines prevent are deadly. Death, die, dead. Look at it similar to penicillin - my youngest child is allergic to penicillin. Should penicillin be shunned because some people are allergic to it? Of course not. I firmly believe that the researchers will eventually piece together a better picture of how autism comes about, and better treatments and therapies. But there's no sense in potentially exposing your child to a disease that could kill them out of fear of autism. The science and the odds are not on that side.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
    • Realtime

      Sure..... everyone "knows" that chemicals weren't invented until the 1980s. Remember Love Canal of the 70s? Oh wait. That must have been a "natural" disaster.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:52 | Report abuse |
  16. Elizabeth

    A friend with an autistic son found out that he is much better without wheat or food colorings and artificial flavors. There are a number of genetically engineered foods (not labeled) including wheat, corn syrup (which is not made by a natural process), etc. If two family members are suddenly allergic to a vegetable, and it turns out that it is genetically engineered, that may cause problems. (My daughter and I go into shock now from lima beans). Anything that the intestines have trouble with can affect the brain: before birth the skin, stomach, and brain are connected, and anybody with motion sickness knows that the eyes rule the stomach; new studies link melanoma and Parkinson's disease. There should also be more investigation of makeup worn by pregnant women.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mm

      All of our goods and foods that come out of China need to be better regulated. They are using chemicals that's killing us.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
  17. lmartin

    Try this on....
    Government Secretly Settled 83 Vaccine-Autism Cases in the Last 20 Years
    By VC | May 11th, 2011 | Category: Latest News | 85 comments
    The Federal Government has always denied the link between autism and mercury-laced vaccines. Yet, it has secretly paid off over 83 families with autistic children in Federal Vaccine Courts, therefore admitting the correlation between autism and mercury-laced vaccines. Here’s a study on this issue. For over 20 years, the federal government has publicly denied a vaccine-autism link, while at the same time its Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) has been awarding damages for vaccine injury to children with brain damage, seizures and autism. A new [...]

    I love news sources that aren't owned by the government.

    So, for your children and grandchildren, do stay away from the poisons, eh?

    Regards,
    Doug

    June 8, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      I wouldn't use what the government says as a basis for scientific fact.

      June 8, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
    • Lily

      Except for that teensy little fact that you don't actually have to prove that your/your child's illness was caused by a vaccine in that court to 'win'. It pays out to basically anyone who might conceivably have a vaccine related illness.

      June 8, 2011 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
    • Momof4

      I read this, too. Very intriguing...

      June 8, 2011 at 22:18 | Report abuse |
  18. Elinor Kriegsmann

    As a clinical instructor in Speech Pathology at the Univ. Of Washington in the 70's and early 80's, we rarely saw incidences of children with autistic features (forget the label controversy) This changed in the mid-80's with a major spike in the 90's to the present. The main difference in the past 35 years has also been the spike in environmental and food related toxins. The only control women of child bearing age have is to reduce where possible any toxic chemicals in clothing, furniture, food, toys, home remodel materials, household products, electronic products and on and on. Toxins are pervasive- but for an environment with an infant or a pregnant women, one needs to be very conscious- For example high-fructose corn syrup (in most processed foods) is processed with a mercury based solution. It is a tragedy of our times and should be a criminal offense for manufacturers and chemical companies to knowingly partake.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Dr Neutrino

    The cause of Autism and other neurological disorders will be found to be demylination or non mylination of the fetus/childs brain. Various chemicals in insecticides and herbicides are known to cause demylination. The myelin is the covering over the nerves that helps transmit signals. Either certain protein production or the destruction of the protein (MBP) might simply have varying effects depending upon the timing. This is why at the time of the MMR so many children appear to become autistic. Myelion production continues until age 18 when the brain is somewhat complete. Girls have more myelien than boys. Their corpus callosum is larger so they can afford to lose more and still function ok. Girls get more MS, another deyminating disease. Boys get more autism and ADHD.
    Next time you meet someone with MS, ask them if they ever spent any time near a golf course during puberty.

    Also, high tension wires that were fro decades thought to cause childhood leukemia?? HOGWASH. Herbcides used by the utility company similar to agent orange as defoliants were the cause.

    Its a big CONSPIRACY by MONSANTO, DOW, CHEMLAWN, SCOTSS. They will kill the human genome within 3 generations.
    While Im at it, please dont eat TUNA fish if you EVER plan on getting pregnant or fathering a child.

    Dr N.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Whitney159

      Dr. N
      You sound like my Endocrinology Prof. He too blamed the herbicides used under the power lines instead of the power lines themselves. Based on his arguements (and we DID get a lecture that day!) I was totally won over.
      W

      June 8, 2011 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
    • paganguy

      You are correct about the chemicals and the chemical companies. I might add perfumes, the ones made from chemicals.
      A child is held close to the body and sucks in all the chemicals from the perfumes. The nose cavity leads right into the brain.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:04 | Report abuse |
  20. Steveo

    Maybe we need pre-pregnancy check ups to determine whether or not there are certain toxic contaminants present in either parent that represent risk factors. Maybe we should make these mandatory and make people have to obtain a license to have children too. Either way, humans suck at what they do.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Janet

    This is what those of us in public health have been saying forever. It is about time someone is focusing on it.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. ed

    I would be interested in the autistic rates of children in parts of the world where the pregnant moms have very limited exposure to the chemicals of our modern day world.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rocksor

      You would be hard pressed to find those cultures since there is a good chance that toddlers who display autistic characteristics would be deemed as possesed by evil spirits, and would not have lived very long.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Zero cases of autism in the amish community of a few thousand in Pennsylvania. The chances of that happening if autism actually were "genetic"(which it's not 99% of the time) are virtually zero. Clearly it is environmental.

      June 9, 2011 at 03:51 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Alex, that is simply not true. Autism DOES occur in the Amish. Furthermore, the Amish DO vaccinate. One has NOTHING to do with the other.

      June 9, 2011 at 07:11 | Report abuse |
  23. Sir Lord

    The more and more we find out about causes of certain diseases, the more depressing it becomes as we raise our children in a more or less unsafe environments as we try to shield them as much as possible from harmful chemicals. It's becoming almost nothing is safe anymore. I think that it is best not to report any such findings unless there has been substantial evidence to support any dire findings like the one mentioned in the above article about autism!

    June 8, 2011 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. jim

    for every problem man thinks he can solve, he creates twice as much. everything we consume, from food, drink, t.v., internet, etc... is poison for us either physically, mentally, or spiritually. All while these big corps. who manufacture these products get rich off our slow demise. Enjoy your clams!

    June 8, 2011 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Rocksor

    South Korea has a higher autism rate than the United States. Their vaccine schedule is not as rigorous as our own. So what's the cause? Something in the environment affecting fetal development.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mm

      Chinese made goods and food.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
  26. DPEM13

    What about the possibility of birth control pills playing a part? Who knows (besides hormones) what are in all these different types of pills and other contraceptives. In this article, I believe I read (several times) about the chemicals that "interrupt normal hormone" processes. I would think that nothing interrupts the normal hormonal process more than birth control pills. It is likely more women are on birth control pills today than ever before. Maybe that's why the autism rates have risen so much. Or...maybe back in the day, people weren't so quick to run to doctors to diagnose everything as a medical problem.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bianca

      If you have or have ever seen a child with autism, you would not think of it as something parents just complain about, so we have more of them diagnosed. This is a matter of national health emergency, but it is not treated with the urgency it deserves. Naturally, for a country in which it is AGAINST THE LAW to label products that use genetically engineered products, irradiation, or even chemicals used in processing the food prior to its final phase, what do you expect? Serious discussion of the problem would require that we have all the facts. Survival will depend on not trusting anything one eats, or uses around the house. Back to washing with vinegar, and shop farmers' markets. At least one can reduce the onslaught of toxins deemed "good" for our body.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
  27. Mr. Grumpy

    OMG, reading the posts on this page make me realize that we haven't left the dark ages. Please, all of you operating based on the limbic system rather than your frontal lobes, DON'T have children. That ought to help reduce the autism rate somewhat. Also please don't vote.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Johnny Boy

    " 'Lead, mercury, and other neurotoxic chemicals have a profound effect on the developing brain at levels that were once thought to be safe,' she said... " ... Hmmm, now there's NO WAY they'd ever put any of the above-mentioned chemicals in seasonal flu vaccines, now, is there?! Nahhh, they'd NEVER do that... Autism? Vaccines? No, no connection- after all, a typical vaccine typically containes "...as much mercury as a tuna fish sandwich...Now THAT's a powerful sound byte..." (Now, why don't we extract that "tuna" mercury, along with all the adjuvants and catalylsts found in the vaccine, etc., AND INJECT IT ALL INTO A NEWBORN BABE! BRAVO!!!!! BRAVISSSIMO!) Down with the NWO, Down with BILDERBERG.. UP with freedom!

    June 8, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. zapper45701

    Duh! I've been saying it for quite some time! Chemicals that are in the food chain are probably the most contributing factor to autism. I personally think it's in the fertilizers. With the advent and usage of more and more chemical fertilizers, as opposed to those found more readily in nature, we have seen a steady rise in autism cases. I think there's another factor that cause the links to connect, but I'm not sure what it is. If it were strictly one thing, then everyone would be autistic, so I would think a catalyst must be interactive somewhere. It's just my point of view.

    I sincerely hope that a therapy, whether gene, behavioral, medicinal or whatever, is found to help all those who are afflicted with autism. Best wishes to all.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Mary

    This autism problem is the reason why we MUST NOT eliminate Medicare. If we dismantle Medicare we dismantle our entire healthcare system at a time when we simply cannot afford to do so. Think of the children, people!

    June 8, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Mattie Webb

    Autism and autism spectrum of disorders run in my family. It's wiring – frontal lobe wiring. Nothing CAUSES it. It is natural. Temple Grandin's books are revealing and highlight her both genius and perseverance which both made social obstacles for her. Everyone is so busy looking for a cause, perhaps they aren't looking in the right places. There is real evidence for an evolutionary step here. Grandin makes the point that the different between humans and other animals is frontal lobe wiring. She posits that the difference between autistics and so-called "normal" human beings is frontal lobe wiring. I find that quite a comforting thought in that the "normals" haven't done a heck of a lot of good in their tenure on the planet except create righteous war. Perhaps the sensitivities innate in the rest of the animal kingdom, if humans evolved in the frontal lobe, would make a constructive change in human arrogance. Sensitivity is a good thing, for compassion, for creativity and for survival.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rocksor

      You could argue that genetic mutations are also normal. There are many cases of families with no history of autism, and then suddenly they have a child with autism.

      I've read two different studies (2009 and 2011) that allude to genetic mutation, and markers for autism not being present in either parents.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
    • KDoyle

      Thank you Mattie for the great post!! Temple Grandin can be considered an authority on autism considering she has lived with it for her whole life. Combine this frontal lobe wiring with an affinity for technology and you get the next step of evolution for humans. A step that is currently walking hand in hand with technology. Austistic children are not a detriment to society, they are the future of society.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
  32. Mark W

    Incredible Shrinking Woman...Galaxy Glue is not the culprit...It's western society!!!...What's the rate of disease in Amish country?

    June 8, 2011 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Rocksor

    Autism could also be related to natural evolution of the human species. Think about it, you get two extremely smart people, who have difficulty socializing find it hard to work with people, and then they mate. What is the by product? A child who is developmentally behind in social and communication milestones.

    Look up Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen and his numerous studies on Autism.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brooke

      I know it's just anecdotal, but I have two good friends that meet the description of your hypothetical parents and the eldest product of their union confounded his educators to the point that they asked that he be evaluated for autistic spectrum disorder. Guess what, he's just wicked smart and processes things emotionally just fine, but faster and deeper than his peers. Their lives would have been needlessly turned upside down if an inexperienced therapist did the evaluation. What concerns me is the rush to label. I fear that being socially awkward could be enough in some cases to earn the brand autistic and that taxes the resources for those that truly need help.

      June 9, 2011 at 03:12 | Report abuse |
  34. mm

    Look into all the Chinese made goods that we are surrounded with. Years ago we had similar products and less autism. Today everything around us from the clothes we wear to the food we eat comes out of China. They are slowly killing the world.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wally

      no regulations in china. everything safe. tea party want same here.

      June 8, 2011 at 22:30 | Report abuse |
  35. happyhippie

    I recommend to read the book "Pick Your Poison: How Our Mad Dash to Chemical Utopia is Making Lab Rats of Us All" by Monona Rossol

    Chapter 1: Your body is a chemistry experiment – have we given ourselves diabetes, autism and cancer?

    June 8, 2011 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Katie

    It requires making some changes. Don't buy anti-bacterial products with triclosan and avoid everything herehttp://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/avoid-dirty-dozen-chemicals.html

    It's not as hard as it looks. All of my cosmetics, soap, moisturizers and house cleansers are made without chemicals. Oh, and see the movie, Tapped.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Megan

    "Not vaccine related" though there are all sorts of neurotoxins in vaccines including mercury, formaldehyde, alcholol, etc.??? THOSE chemicals (many the same that you quoted in your article) couldn't contribute in addition to others? I find that difficult to believe - especially as a mother of a child with autism who saw the symptoms manifest OVERNIGHT after receiving 7 immunizations in one doctor visit.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Will

    !

    I ought to put up a glyph of annoyance.

    Autism is almost certainly genetic. NUMEROUS studies have shown this over and over again.

    Multiple studies have shown that autism is a lot less tied to the environment than it is to mother's age.

    UC Davis study confirms link between advanced maternal age and autism:
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-02/uoc–uds020210.php

    Link to autism in boys found in missing DNA:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-09/cfaa-lta091510.php

    This looks very much like a case of X chromosome replication error during Oogenesis (look it up on wikipedia). These increase as a woman gets older. With the fact that more and more people are postponing their fertility, this is HIGHLY likely to increase. And, gosh, that's exactly what it has done.

    There was another study that looked for an environmental cause for autism (which I cannot find the link for now). it sampled the poor, rich, etc across California. The highest demographic concentration of autism? White, wealthy families in Marin/Napa (if I recall correctly). Precisely those that postpone their fertility.

    That postponed fertility could be the cause shouldn't surprise people. There is ample evidence that the incidence of Down's Syndrome greatly increases as a mother passes the age of 35. Why couldn't there be others?

    While I am all for cleaning out the environment of those chemicals that everyone is ranting about here – they are bad for multiple reasons even if they have zilch to do with autism – we have to realize that our choices can effect our children, too. This is increasingly looking like our fertility choices, too.

    PS: Yes, autism can strike the children of younger mothers, just like Down's can. Nature is messy and oogenesis can go south even with young women. However, the incidence is far, far less.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TheBear

      A link to genetics? Almost certainly. Implying that it is 100% genetic? Almost certainly not.

      From your second study, those missing the PTCHD1 gene were "at higher risk" for developing autism. Just how much higher is not stated in this summary.

      Also A implies B does not mean B implies A. In other words, the problem is that there are many, many people with autism who DO have the PTCHD1 gene. So while intriguing, the study is not a complete answer.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • DasShrubber

      This is makes more sense!! The longer you wait to have children, the higher the likelihood of genetic errors.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
    • Will

      @TheBear: It's probably not caused just by /that/ gene being defective. Genetics is a lot more complicated than just a on-off signs in most cases. However, if I recall correctly, with a ratio of something like 4:1 or 5:1 bias for incidence in boys over girls should have been a red flag from the beginning. That alone screams X linked "trait."

      June 8, 2011 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
    • Lee Anne

      Wealthier families also buy more STUFF. They have new houses, cars, furniture, lots of plastic toys, and new car seats with toxic foam. The "hand me downs" that poorer people use are far less toxic. FREECYCLE for health!

      June 8, 2011 at 14:36 | Report abuse |
    • TheBear

      There is unqeustionaly a link and an X-linked recessive gene clearly plays a part.

      But we know that it is not 100% genetic. If it were, then if one identical twin had autism then the other twin MUST have autism. No study has every found this to be the case. In this particular study I quote, the rate was 60% :

      http://www.dnalc.org/view/869-Autism-and-Twin-Studies-1-.html

      June 8, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse |
    • wally

      chemicals might cause missing dna. than missing dna leads to autism.

      June 8, 2011 at 22:17 | Report abuse |
  39. Pam

    When I was checking into daycares for my kids (20+ yrs ago) i refused to consider any daycares that were located at busy intersections, especially those with stoplights. I thought all the car exhaust being dumped into the air right where kids are playing can't be very healthy for the children. Maybe I wasn't such a paranoid mom afterall...

    June 8, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Actually, Pam, I have read that being close to a road like that increases likelihood of asthma. It wouldn't surprise me if it also increased likelihood of lung cancer later. So you had the right idea, I think.

      June 8, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
    • wally

      i'm still waiting for the other shoe to fall on the "safety" of sunscreen.

      June 8, 2011 at 22:11 | Report abuse |
  40. TheBear

    What has been generally accepted is that there is no one "cause" of autism. In fact, it's probably safe to say that "autism" is not one condition, it is merely an umbrella term to describe a host of difficulties in behaviour, communication and socialization. Much the same as "fever" is not a disease but merely a symptom.

    This makes research incredibly hard, because 25 children with autism might have 25 different conditions, each with its own unique combination of genetic and environmental factors that triggered the symptoms.

    We must first understand the human brain better. The interactions that go into shaping our brains when we are very young are so complex that we simply don't understand enough about them at this point in time.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      It is like cancer. Cancer is not one disease. Even breast cancer is many, many different diseases and we are just starting to be able to tailor treatments there.

      June 8, 2011 at 15:36 | Report abuse |
    • Will

      In partial support...

      http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/sf-ssv053111.php

      (out today!)

      June 8, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
  41. david Anderson

    I'm pretty sure they called Galileo an idiot. Not sure they wished for the death of his children though.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Dr Neutrino

    Ive read the entire link now and one area people keep missing is both urban, rural and suburban children and fetus' in this country are ALL exposed to insecticides, fertlizers and/or herbicides at low doses. These products have NEVER been tested by the EPA or anyone else for their potential impact on children born or unborn.
    STOP USING PESTICIDES on lawns, in hallways and on farms. Its that simple. BREAKUP MONSANTO NOW!!

    ROUNDUP READY CROPS WILL KILL US ALL.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jamas

      100% dead on Dr. N. Toxins, such as chemicals described in this article, must be removed from the body via detoxifying process carried out by by enzymes created by the liver. The body is taxed by this need for constant detoxification, which takes enormous amounts of trace elements (e.g. Molybdenum for sulfites) and nutrients to maintain. Ultimately, this process leads to nutritional/enzyme creation depletion and increase in chemical sensitivities/intolerances. Unless you suffer from this breakdown, it would be easy to dismiss adverse affects on the body. If none of this is true, why the increase in cancer rates – a disease strongly linked to free-radicals, which are created during the detoxification process?

      June 8, 2011 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
    • N

      I would hazard a guess that the primary cause of the increase in the incidence of cancers would be the fact that we're living much longer than we used to, and cancer rates increase with age.

      June 8, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
    • BettyBettyBetty

      That's actually funny to read. Haaaa

      June 8, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Women are getting breast cancer at younger and younger ages.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
    • Nutty Buddy

      Cite proof that women are getting breast cancer at younger and younger ages.

      June 8, 2011 at 21:59 | Report abuse |
    • Laurijst

      Bingo.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:02 | Report abuse |
    • wally

      that age should start reversing now that the safety nets are being removed.

      June 8, 2011 at 22:00 | Report abuse |
    • Sue Ann

      Amen! Also people are so terrified of germs. Germs are a normal part of life and developing immunity. I worked in a big box nursery and found the chemicals they sell and people buy very disturbing. One woman bought super toxic chemicals to kill black ants that were "outside" not even near her house. She was so freaked out that she found black ants in her yard. Also a man I worked with that had 3 children, sprayed his lawn with such caustic chemicals that he burned out the inside of him mouth and nostrils. Yes of course his children are going to play in that yard. I encourage people at every turn to use organic pesticides and more importantly get over having bugs in your environment. Big deal!

      June 8, 2011 at 16:54 | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      Umm... Roundup actually reduces the use of other weed control agents to a very high degree. Other GM crops have reduced dependence on pesticides. Other GM crops have cut down on the amount of fertilizer needed. Getting rid of things like Roundup Ready and other GM crops would actually lead to an *increase* in the amount of chemicals used to grow food. Of course, you can move the entire food supply to organic production but we'd end up with significantly higher prices on food due to the reduce crop yield.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • Realtime

      So you're shorting Monsanto. Does the SEC know about your scheme?

      June 8, 2011 at 18:50 | Report abuse |
    • What she/he said

      Thank you Dr N! Curious how many people that don't vaccinate clean with chemicals, pour chemical fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides all over their lawns, spray round up on their weeds and round out the day with hormone and chemical laden food. Seriously think about the products you use, what kind of long term research has been done on any of these crazy chemical compounds singularly let alone in combination with the other ones you and your neighbors are spreading and spraying all over. Think!

      June 8, 2011 at 19:53 | Report abuse |
  43. Piltor687

    Of course it's chemicals in the environment. That really is not a new idea. The problem is that it is probably not any one chemical but the aggregate load on the developing brain. It is also clear that autism is just a label for a severe form of a brain development disorder. The causes may be different in any individual, which is why the comment about children raised away from urban environments with very little overall exposure need to be studied.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      Define "away from urban environment." There was a recent study in Los Angeles to determine the spread of aerosol pollutants in the vicinity by using special chemical markers in their aersol products. They found that pollutants from as far south as Anaheim and Huntington Beach made their way as far north as Beverly Hills and Malibu– a distance of around 40 miles. Since most of the United States lives in urban and suburban areas, it's more than likely you live within 40 miles of something you don't want to breathe in.

      That's the issue though. Suburban environments require more energy, more fuel consumption and the fact that they are so large also means there's little one can do to isolate and confine pollution sources. And urbanity maybe have little to do with pollution— the West Village and the Financial District has the two of lowest and highest levels of air pollution in U.S. cities and often these low-high differences are separated by mere blocks. Also, one thing to point out is that the air pollution levels in Manhattan fluctuate wildly even during the day with the night having almost no air pollution while during rush hour having the highest levels.

      So, even if you live out in the country but spend a fair amount of time commuting, you're probably inhaling more polluted air than a city-dweller with an irregular schedule.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Ever hear of pesticides in farming? Power companies have also been known to dump chromium VI in lesser populated areas. If you are in North America, you are exposed to chemicals.

      June 8, 2011 at 15:39 | Report abuse |
    • wally

      at any one time there are traces of maybe 100 toxic or carcinogenic compounds in your body. even the electronic energy field of your home may react with these compounds, as do laptops and cellphones.

      June 8, 2011 at 22:06 | Report abuse |
  44. No

    Vaccines are full of chemicals. 60 year old dentists won't touch fillings with amalgams anymore but it's just fine and dandy to inject into children repeatedly. Here's your sign.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michael A.

      Yep, I always go to 60 yr old dental professionals for my neuronatal developmental needs. They sure know best!

      Here's your sign. And here's an extra, since you keep trying to give yours away.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • Luisa

      what does this recurring "here is your sign" mean? It makes no sense. No surprised, but it just doesn't. It's probably some reference from pop culture, which is a valuable thing to spend time on.

      June 9, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
    • Coals

      Um NO, Thimerosal, you know, the ethyl-mercury containing preservative that was used in vaccines, was for the most part not used anymore after 2001. So if the ethyl-mercury that was used in the preservative, which by the way is a different type of compound than the type of mercury used in fillings, was not used commonly after 2001, why did autism diagnoses not drop after 2001? Ummm...you guessed it, the ethly-mercury was not causing the autism.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • PartyOnDude

      Good point! Some folks just keep pointing to vaccines; let's hope the real reason is discovered and proper treatments are developed for those already diagnosed. Perhaps then all kids will get protected with the appropriate vaccines.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:27 | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Get your facts straight buddy. They removed thimerosal from childhood vaccines in 2004. Those that were produced were still on the shelves far after that. Until about 2006. If your kid gets a Flu shot, it is often the "adult" version which contains thimerosal to this day. While they don't have mercury anymore a lot of kids still get vaccines that do contain mercury(flu shots). By the way, mercury from both fillings and vaccines crosses the BBB and doesn't come out. Ever. Unless you take a chelating agent with two thiol groups(Alpha Lipoic Acid). So the autism rate wouldn't expect to fall until around now. Those who were the last to receive a lot of thimerosal in their vaccines were a few years past 2004.

      June 9, 2011 at 03:32 | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      You are full of chemicals. Your food is full of chemicals. This was true 10,000 years ago and will be true 10,000 years from now. Amino acids are chemicals that make up another chemical, proteins. Carbohydrates are chemicals. Fats are chemicals.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • Cassie

      Excellent point.

      June 8, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse |
    • Caroline Naluai

      @Kevin – I'm sorry, I should have clarified. Manmade additives, preservative and sweeteners. I teach Culinary Arts and I have McDonald's fries in a glass container in my classroom. The fries have been sitting on the windowsill since February 1, 2010 – over a year – and they are not decomposing. In fact, I joke that if I took the lid off of them, people would eat them based on their appearance. There is puts silicone in the fries (as an anti-foaming agent) I've seen the ingredient label – these are the chemicals that others are referring to – not the naturally occurring organic compounds.

      June 8, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • chemicals in water caused thyroid problems

      Thank you dear, it's sad that u have to even explain that...

      June 8, 2011 at 18:47 | Report abuse |
    • D

      You forgot genes and DNA-they are chemicals too!

      June 8, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
    • bean

      Sou- is that you? I'd like to reiterate to our readers that "chemical" means nothing without some sort of qualifier, like "toxic" or "benign" or "newly discovered."

      June 9, 2011 at 00:06 | Report abuse |
    • Ocean Pearl

      Idiot. HARMFUL chemicals.

      June 10, 2011 at 00:05 | Report abuse |
    • Nutty Buddy

      Broccoli is full of chemicals, and not because it's sprayed with them. Water is a chemical compound. So's salt.

      Take a chemistry course, dimwit.

      June 8, 2011 at 20:12 | Report abuse |
    • Bologna

      My dentist is 50. So he is still touching amalgams. Just had one last week. 🙂

      June 9, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
  45. ieat

    Why are people confusing this article with Vaccination? The article is talking about chemicals. The ones in soap, cushions, car seat, plastic cups, styrofoam, cleaning agents, perfume, or even shampoo, lotion. I've stopped using shampoo and conditioner for my hair, but replaced with apple cider vinegar and baking soda. My hair is better than ever. It just goes and shows that we don't need all this chemicals in our everyday life. Go natural as much as you can. Save your body for necessary chemicals like vaccinations (even though I don't recommend getting all of them. Which kid gets Hep A as an infant anyways?)

    June 8, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Someone needs to read up on HepA transmission. I believe you are thinking about HepB transmission, not HepA.

      June 8, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  46. estelle79

    Duh !!

    June 8, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. HA2222

    "Lead, mercury, and other neurotoxic chemicals have a profound effect on the developing brain at levels that were once thought to be safe," she said.

    Hey Simpleton, the vaccine debate had it's start in the levels of neurotoxic chemicals present in certain vaccines. So, no, the latest article blanketing and spreading fault to everything in the environment doesn't eliminate anything from the table. Unless of course, you are simpleton enough to believe everything you read on a daily basis on CNN.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Momofmany

      No one in the last century thought mercury was safe to begin with. I know plenty of those over 70 who were disgusted to find out it was in vaccines due to it being so deadly. Only vaccine manufacturers and amalgam filling makers thought they were safe. Mad hatters families could have told them that it wasn't safe!

      June 27, 2011 at 20:49 | Report abuse |
  48. James

    I think it's largely the fact that a lot more people are being diagnosed with it, more so than an increase in the actual number of people who fall on the autistic spectrum. Additionally, we have more tools available today for meeting potential mates so it's more common for people who are socially awkward to have some success at finding mates. There are several cases of Aspergers in my family, all in men and most of us are engineers. I would hazard to guess that a large majority of engineers and scientists out there have some autistic characteristics. Aspergers syndrome pretty much describes the stereotypical nerd, we just have a fancy clinical name for it now.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. DBNY

    I am not an expert or scientist in any way, but I remember my daughter (now 3) being vaccinated all the time for the first 2 years or so of her life. It seemed like she didn't go three months without some sort of vaccine. So if she had shown signs of autism at any point during her first 2 years, it would have been very easy to say "wow, she just had that vaccine."

    I can't say with 100% certainty that vaccines don't have a link to autism (can anyone be 100% sure), but it is going to take a lot more than the current theories to get me thinking about skipping vaccines for my next child. The risks of not vaccinating are concrete – so I choose to avoid those.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. brian576

    so, let me get this straight....they didn't do anything illegal but they should be put to death? well, i know someone who wouldn't win a debate

    June 8, 2011 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
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