home
RSS
April 2nd, 2010
08:48 AM ET

Latest on autism research

By Madison Park
CNNhealth.com writer/producer

April 2 is U.N.-declared World Autism Awareness Day. A life touched by autism is one forever in search of new information, and answers to the questions "Why did this happen?" and "How can I help my child?" Here's a brief wrap of some of the latest headlines about the mysterious neurological disorder, which affects as many as 1 in 110 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In March, a federal court ruled that the evidence supporting an alleged link between autism and a mercury-containing preservative in vaccines was not persuasive, and that the families of children who have  autism were not entitled to compensation. Vaccine court finds no link to autism

In February, a notorious study that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism and digestive disorders, was retracted 12 years after it was published.  Its lead author Dr. Andrew Wakefield was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research by the British entity that oversees doctors.   Medical journal retracts study linking autism to vaccine

As research  indicates that the rates of autism are increasing and that about 1 percent of the children in the United States have the disorder,  there is an increasing body of science looking into causes and contributing factors to the mysterious condition.

Here are some major findings according to Autism Speaks, a leading advocacy and education organization.

1) Two major studies using different methodologies reached similar conclusions: autism is on the rise.  Four years earlier, autism spectrum disorder was found to affect 1 out of 150 children, but more recent data suggest it's closer to 1 in 91 or 1 in 110 children, depending on the study.  Research also found that autism is four times more common in boys than girls.

Prevalence of parent-reported diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder among children in the US

Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders – autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network

2) Delivering early intervention programs for children with autism improved IQ, language skills and adaptive behavior even for those as young as 18 months.

Randomized, controlled trial of an intervention for toddlers with autism: the Early Start Denver Model

3) An autism genome study found a genetic variation associated with the genes cadherin 10 and 9, which are responsible for forming nerve connections. This suggests abnormal interactions between neurons may cause the deficits seen in autism.

Common genetic variants on 5p14.1 associate with autism spectrum disorders

4) Researchers analyzed submicroscopic DNA deletions or duplications called copy number variants in the autism genome and found a new cellular pathway called "ubiquitin pathway," in the pathology of autism.

Autism genome-wide copy number variation reveals ubiquitin and neuronal genes

5) A study demonstrated that combining drug and behavioral treatments were more effective than drug treatment alone for reducing challenging behaviors.

Medication and parent training in children with pervasive developmental disorders and serious behavior problems: Results from a randomized clinical trial

For the complete list and expanded explanation, visit Top 10 Autism Research Achievements

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. Patrick Geagan

    My grandson, now 6yrs.old., was diagnosed borderline autistic. Initially, bright colors, crowds of people, and sudden loud sounds frightened him. Also, he stopped speaking at about age 2-3. About the time he stopped speaking he experienced a febrile seizure. We thought he was developing a little slower than average. About the age of 3, I saw a pamphlet at our health department about speech therapy & I inquired but the therapist said that after age 3 they could not do anything. I had our school board test him and he was diagnosed. He lives with his mother now for the last 2 years & attends school in an autism class and is doing well. His speech has improved, he loves school. His mother works with him every day. He is very intelligent.

    April 2, 2010 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aly

      The government run program called ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) follows and treats kiddos from birth the three years. After that the school programs take over with therapy (speech, occupational, physical, etc) However you can always go to a private clinic and receive treatment. Depending on your insurance sometimes the therapy can be partly covered if you have an actual diagnosis from a doctor. If you live by a major university they also usually offer some therapy services for kiddos at the college. Sometimes the grad students mastering in those areas will conduct the therapy with a supervising clinician overseeing the progress. So there are many options.

      July 22, 2010 at 08:59 | Report abuse |
  2. suzanne

    @Patrick Geagan above, you wrote "About the age of 3, I saw a pamphlet at our health department about speech therapy & I inquired but the therapist said that after age 3 they could not do anything. " This is confusing. It must have been a Birth to Three program. If an impaired child is older than 3, they should be treated through the school district. Also, the school district can determine eligibility, but not diagnose.

    April 2, 2010 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. James Wilson

    Not enough being done. Something very simple you would think would be useful would be a national survey. Survey every family with an autistic child to see if there is any common link. For example, I have 4 sons, one is autistic, it was the only pregnancy that was enduced labor with pitosin. This may have nothing to do with it. However, if we looked at 500,000 children with autism, maybe we can find a link. Just seems like common sense to have a national survey. Also, I believe too many disorders are being labeled as autism, or there should be different classifications. I don't believe this is genetic. It may come out 20 years from now. For one, my family has never been asked to participate in a national survey. There should be a national push here, it seems no one wants to get involved here until it hits there own home.

    April 2, 2010 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Seth Goldberg

    I own a small environmental testing company that specializes in non-destructive testing, using XRF analyzers to test for elements, specifically heavy metals (lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and others). We have been in business since 2007 helping people and businesses know what is in their environment. There has been one group of people that continually call us for environmental inspections, autistic families. In my few years of providing testing services to these families, I am told the same thing from every family; their children have heavy metals in their blood. When I test the consumer products that these autistic children are routinely using or exposed to, I’m finding the same have metals that are found in their blood. I’m not suggesting that these metals are the cause of autism, but I suspect that some of these metals found in the blood could cause other problems and potentially mask effective treatment for autism. I’ve spoken to several autism groups, and to my knowledge, no research has been done in this direction. I suspect that these individuals simply can’t process the heavy metals, chemicals and other toxicant’s that we are all routinely exposed to; maybe they are a specific genome. I’d love to talk to you and others to try and understand more of the environmental effects on autism and how simple knowledge can help these families. My business is Environmental Services & Solutions Corporation, our website is http://www.essco-safetycheck.com and my blog is http://www.blog.essco-safetycheck.com Please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for all you do!

    April 2, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Deborah

    The pharma spin blame-shifting vaccine-induced injuries to a child's genetic make up just doesn't fly inthe face of research.

    Well-respected environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. published his article "Deadly Immunity" about the mercury cover up. He stated on a http://www.putchildrenfirst.org ad entitled, IT’S TIME FOR THE CDC TO COME CLEAN WITH THE AMERICAN PUBLIC,:

    "We believe the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) knows that the ambitious immunization schedule begun in the 1990s, nearly tripling the amount of mercury injected into our children, created an epidemic of autism in America. We are mystified that mercury remains in children’s vaccines and that the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics are fighting state laws banning mercury. Why?"

    Boyd Haley, PhD, professor of chemistry, University of Kentucky, testified before two National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine Committee meetings in 2000 and 2004 regarding the hypothesis that thimerosal (the mercury containing vaccine preservative) was the most likely causation of the apparent autism epidemic. He stated that “Thimerosal is mercury. Thimerosal is definitely in vaccines. Thimerosal clearly causes chronic disease, most prominently autism." Since 1999, Dr. Haley has done research and supported programs that would investigate the role of vaccines in autism spectrum disorders.

    National UPI Reporter Daniel Olmsted, http://www.ageofautism.com, has written over 100 articles about mercury and autism. He compares Chicagoland Dr. Mayer Eisenstein’s practice to the Amish, http://www.whale.to/vaccine/olmsted1.html “…Thousands of children cared for by Homefirst Health Services in metropolitan Chicago have at least two things in common with thousands of Amish children in rural Lancaster: They have never been vaccinated. And they don't have autism in a large practice of 35,000 children cared for over the years. "I don't think we have a single case of autism in children delivered by us who never received vaccines," said Dr. Eisenstein, M.D., J.D., is Homefirst's medical director who founded the practice in 1973, http://homefirst.com

    April 2, 2010 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. barb janov

    The study that indicated a genetic base for autism applies only to 7% of autistic children. These children with varying backgrounds of fragile x, mitochondrial disease were targeted to "throw" the public off on the real causes of autism in the 93% . WHen our officials, such as Sebelius , beg of the media to only give weight to this kind of information one must go to Europe to find the bits and pieces of the puzzle . At this point it does seem very clear that Wakefield was correct, his studies are being duplicated in China, and our own FDA is fast tracking a drug to allow for protein/gluten to be processed in the body without damaging the brain. The chinese are finding the intestinal lining of these overvaccinated children differs from the norm and ,while they have not named an ingredient, it appears obvious that "something" within the vaccines has caused this epidemic of autism. As long as we allow those such as Sebilius to quiet this kind of information , it's going to be difficult to protect our children. The courts are not scientists, nor doctors, they should not be the deciding factor in this matter.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jackie Monroe

    My son, Gordon has Asperger's / High functioning Autism. A very special pediatrician, Dr. Cy in Flat Rock, MI diagnosed him at 3 yrs. With her help and insight (she has an adult son with Autism) we found a medication to treat his focus, a medication treating his anxiety, and a behavioral therapist to teach the whole family about becoming a successful family with an autistic child. Earyl diagnosis, a great pediatrician, the right medication, and a behavioral therapy plan, and continuing education is the winning combination. Gordon is a healthy, happy, quirky young ten year old mainstreamed into a fantastic school system with support coming from many directions. It was a long, hard fight – even with all the great people in our lives -but worth every moment. I wouldn't have it any other way.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Leo Ehrlich

    Cellceutix Pharma, is a small pharma that is diligently working on a new treatment for autism. This week we issued a news release stating "Cellceutix Announces Positive Results With Autism Compound, KM-391 Showing Significant Improvements On Key Parameters In Animal Studies" See full release at http://www.cellceutix.com

    To know that companies like our are investing their limited resources to develop better treatments for autism gives hope to many parents.

    This week we received many letters from parents describing the difficulties and challenges of daily life. They also thanked us for the research we are doing. We wish we could give an individual reply to each and every parent. At this time we can say that while the data we released is very promising, the process of developing a drug is long, complex and expensive. At best it will be several years before our compound can get through this process. We are working as hard as we can to make that happen in the hope that we can expand the options available to families.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Connie Burciaga

    I have a 10 year old grandson whom I worry about. He is highly intelligent but at a much younger age, he used to make "noises" and get very upset if he was reprimanded at home. Sometimes he would run around crying and screaming and no amount of consoling could calm him down. He has come a long way now but I wonder if he might suffer from a little bit of Asperger. He is an only child and I think my son is hard on him. Sometimes my grandson talks in class and the teacher right away reports it to the parents and my son especially really comes down on him. My grandson is very, very tall for his age and I worry about his social skills. He is an only child and alone a lot of the time. I at first thought the outbreaks of "making noises" was due to him wanting to hear himself. Whereas, he sometimes (and rarely now as compared to before) will blurt out something off the wall, I wonder if this might be a form of Asperger or just immaturity. He does not play sports and, in my opinion, does not do the things a normal 10 year old boy would do, i.e., baseball, basketball etc. Am I way out of line here? I have tried to discuss this with my son but he blows up and says his son will not be on medications. This too could be the fact that my son works with juvenile delinquents and I think carries his discipline over into his son. My grandson, as I stated, is very intelligent and does well in school but has no friends to play with as there are none in his neighborhood and when he gets to school I think this is his only means of socializing and therefore gets carried away in talking out in class etc. Any suggestions?

    April 2, 2010 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valerie

      I think you are way out of line. If your grandson does suffer from some neurological impairment that puts him somewhere on the autism spectrum, then having friends is not high on the list of priorities. I would definitely try to find out more about autism and perhaps share it with your son. Autism is more about sensory issues, their brains don't process things the way that ours do, so expecting certain behaviors is just plain out of the question. Expecting them not to steal or certain other behaviors is still acceptable.

      September 14, 2010 at 10:37 | Report abuse |
  10. Tracy Hunsaker

    My 12 year-old daughter has Asperger's. She is gifted and brilliant, but like so many others, has many social difficulties. Since her diagnosis at age 9 I have been able to understand many of the difficulties I had growing up. I had many of the same behavioral markers that she has, and I still struggle with many of them on a daily basis; she just exhibits them to a higher degree. I see some of those markers in my own father. In the debate over what is causing autism why does the answer have to be either genetics or vaccinations/outside cause. Nova produced a wonderful program on epigenetics which discusses research into how a person is born with a certain genetic code, and environmental factors then act on that genetic code to turn on or off markers within it. It is my opinion that autism is likely the result of epigenetics. In other words, it is both genetics and environment. However,in the end, to me, how my daughter became autistic is not as important of an issue as how I and others around her help her to become as healthy, capable, and adaptive a person as she can.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Tara

    My daughter is being tested for autism, however I work in healthcare and believe the studies. Why don't we move on to a NEW study...maybe something along the lines of the preservatives an crap added to our "food" over the past 50+ years. All of the unnatural chemicals, etc. Maybe there is a link there?

    April 2, 2010 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Zac

    Sadly, the majority of this article is misinformation. My life has been forever changed by the relationships I've had with individuals who have Autism. Here is the real story:

    A central fi gure behind the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) claims disputing the link between vaccines and autism and other neurological disorders has disappeared after officials discovered massive fraud involving the theft of millions in taxpayer dollars. Danish police are investigating Dr. Poul Thorsen, who has vanished along with almost $2 million that he had supposedly spent on research. Thorsen was a leading member of a Danish research group that wrote several key studies supporting CDC’s claims that the
    MMR vaccine and mercury-laden vaccines were safe for children.
    Thorsen’s 2003 Danish study reported a 20-fold increase in
    autism in Denmark after that country banned mercury-based
    preservatives in its vaccines. His study concluded that mercury
    could therefore not be the culprit behind the autism epidemic.
    His study has long been criticized as fraudulent since it failed to disclose that the increase was an artifact of new mandates
    requiring, for the fi rst time, that autism cases be reported on the
    national registry. This new law and the opening of a clinic dedicated to
    autism treatment in Copenhagen accounted for the sudden rise in
    reported cases rather than, as Thorsen seemed to suggest, the
    removal of mercury from vaccines. Despite this obvious chicanery,
    CDC has long touted the study as the principal proof that mercury laced vaccines are safe for infants and young children. Mainstream
    media, particularly the New York Times, has relied on this study as
    the basis for its public assurances that it is safe to inject young children with mercury — a potent neurotoxin — at concentrations
    hundreds of times over the US safety limits. Thorsen, who was a psychiatrist and not a research scientist or toxicologist, parlayed that study into a long-term relationship with CDC. He built a research
    empire called the North Atlantic Epidemiology Alliances (NANEA)
    that advertised its close association with the CDC autism team, a
    relationship that had the agency paying Thorsen and his research
    staff millions of dollars to churn out research papers, many of them
    assuring the public on the issue of vaccine safety. The discovery of Thorsen’s fraud came as the result of an investigation by Aarhus
    University and the CDC which discovered that Thorsen had
    falsified documents and, in violation of university rules, was
    accepting salaries from both the Danish university and Emory
    University in Atlanta — near CDC headquarters — where he
    led research efforts to defend the role of vaccines from accusations
    of causing autism and other brain disorders. Thorsen’s center has
    received $14.6 million from CDC since 2002. Thorsen’s partner Kreesten Madsen recently came under fierce criticism after damning emails surfaced showing Madsen in cahoots with CDC offi cials intent on fraudulently cherry picking facts to prove vaccine safety.
    Leading independent scientists have accused CDC of concealing the clear link between the dramatic increases in mercurylaced child vaccinations beginning in 1989 and the epidemic of autism, neurological disorders and other illnesses affecting every
    generation of American children since. Questions about Thorsens’s
    scientific integrity may finally force CDC to rethink the vaccine
    protocols since most of the other key pro-vaccine studies cited
    by CDC rely on the findings of Thorsen’s research group. These
    include oft-referenced research articles published by the Journal of
    the American Medical Association, the American Journal of Preventive
    Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the New England
    Journal of Medicine and others. The validity of all these studies is
    now in question.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Namaste

    I agree with Jackie Monroe. I have a 14 year old son with Asperger's Sydrome. He has had continuous behavioral therapy for years and recently started a medication for the anxiety. I continue to work with the school. He is in main stream high school and does well. We have had some issues but nothing I can not handle. People are becoming more educated about this condition. Luckily I have a waiver through my insurance company. But they need to get on board more.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Zac

    Jackie Monroe,

    Ever heard of or listened to Temple Grandin? I recommend it espcially for the type of Autism your son has. Do you worry about what all the foreign chemicals he is ingesting are doing to his developing body and brain? Have you tried diet as a solution or natural medicine supplements? Your son is a very special child and according to Temple Gradin, could be the next big thing in silicon valley.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Dee

    Hey Jackie....
    My son has NOS-PDD ( on the spectrum of autism. What medication do you use and what behavioral therapy plan do you have install?

    April 2, 2010 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Joyce Wasend

    I am a retired school teacher who had a student in the 7th -9th grade. On the first day of school I learned from the other students that he didn't talk, except to one boy that he walked to school with. I went to the office to check his files to find out why he wasn't talking and there was not a word about it. Counting kindergarten he had been in school 7 years and no one wondered why he didn't talk. I talked to his mother who told me he was shy. She was shy when she was a child and so was he. I was suspecting autism and I talked to his Dad and asked him what he thought about it. He said..I saw the movie, "Rain Man, and I saw my son in that movie but my wife won't take him to a doctor because she doesn't want to face the reality that there may be something wrong with him. I asked him if I could keep him after school for an hour a day and he agreed. For the next 3 years, I used every tool I could think of to get him to talk. He is now in his 30s, has been to college, has become a minister, and has plans to get married. This whole experience piqued my interest in autism and a short time ago, I found out about Dr. Robert Keller and the research he has done to replenish the glutathione that starts to decrease in our body around the age of 20. He was very successful and now many people are taking glutathione and it is supporting many different diseases and conditions. Personally, among other things, the lymphedema has left both my legs after 10 years of taking 160 mg of lasix a day. There are testimonials of autistic children that are using this as a supplement to their other medications and the reports are very encouraging. There is much information on Google about this..

    April 2, 2010 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Dr.Virginia Lubell

    There needs to be research into the parents ... not just genetics. We know that certain hormones taken by a mother can cause disorders even in her grandchildren. We have put so much crap into our bodies through the environment, medications, foods and other agents that this disorder will turn out to be caused by something we have been doing to ourselves.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Joan

    As the mother of my Asperger's teen, my advice to young parents is to NOT rely on your school's disability experts/teachers or your psychiatrist to give you the best path for your kid. My kid's Special Education teachers (in two different states since we moved) all advised that he belonged to their special ed classroom where kids with all sorts of mental disabilities were grouped. We were told that noise and music would hurt his well-being. We were told that he was not college material by teachers who supposedly have Masters degrees in related areas.
    I fought at every Individualized Education Program meeting, at every step, facing 6 to 8 "specialists" from the school, to argue that my kid should remain in mainstream classrooms. I fought to have them allow him to join the Band where he excelled and became the best in school! I gave up my job, stayed at home and taught him everyday since schools never knew how to teach him (or anybody else for that matter). He took many online courses which were heaven-sent because he took his time to learn and excelled. He eventually got a scholarship to study music performance in college too! If the school districts had their way, he would have been rotting in some special ed class and come out of high shcool with a worthless diploma. He would never have been able to join a 4-year degree college.
    How can so many specialists in learning disability and autism areas get it so wrong? Go figure. Parents, please take personal interest and help your kid daily. Asperger kids can do amazing things in life!

    April 2, 2010 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Bubba

    My son was autistic; he still faces challenges. Being portrayed by groups like Autism Speaks as a man who has been brain-damaged by mercury in vaccines is one of those challenges; it isn't true even if a Kennedy thought so. Knock off the junk science and let these people find their own way.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. emma katz

    I would just like to encourage those of you dealing with this complex and stressful issue. I work with special education students at the high school level and see many students with autism doing well. They need to have time to process and people who understand their particular way of doing things. I find them to be delightful people and I pray that the answer to unlock this mystery is found soon.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Steve F

    Responding to Seth & Deborah's thread, my son has been undergoing heavy metal chelation therapy for some time now with regular testing. He has pegged the mercury bar several times in lab tests.

    Imagine the size of the class action suit if it were found that thimerosal was a cause of autism. Call me a cynic but "follow the money".

    Thimerosal was only used to reduce cost in the first place.

    Follow the money.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Skip

    One current theory on the cause Autism is the prevalence of heavy metals in the blood stream. Why is no one looking at the incredible high Aluminum levels in vaccines? Up to 625 micorgrams in one injection alone, and the current medical approved shot schedule has 4 shots at a time!!! I am not a genius, but if autism rates rocket upwards as the number of shots are rocketed upwards, it seems a solid correlation. I am not stating Autism is caused by vaccines, but I surely think that they are a highly contribute if a child has an underlining medical issue that has gone un-diagnosed. Just my 2 cents.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Todd E.

    My son, Nick, has autism, mild mental retardation, cerebral palsy, hypotonia, and a seizure disorder. He is flourishing through mainstream treatments condemned by the shrill voice of the anti-mainstream treatment promoters (think Jenny McCarthy). Those who condemn vaccination programs as a cause of autism are committing a logical fallacy. Correlation does not equal causation. The implementation of an "ambitious vaccination schedule" coincided with an increase in diagnoses of autism. This is a correlation, and does not prove causation. To say that vaccines cause autism is to ignore rising social acceptance of autism in the 90's, increases in the awarness of autism, increases in the ability to diagnose autism, the desirability of autism as a diagnosis (where services for autism diagnosis exceed that of other disorders), and the expansion of the autism spectrum. My son was evaluated for autism when he was three, and again when he was five, but did not meet the criteria. At about the age of nine, he did meet criteria established for autism as it expanded to include him. He did not "catch" autism in the intervening years.

    The only accomplishment the anti-vaccination lobby has made is to increase the prevalence of nearly eradicated childhood diseases.

    For beginning reading on autism, I recommend "Unstrange Minds," by Roy Richard Grinker. While he merely holds a Ph.D in Social Anthropology and is not an M.D., he's at least as qualified as Jenny McCarthy to speak authoritatively on autism.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Dennis Knicely

    We have done extensive research regarding the vaccination process at the web's "Healing News Network" and feel there is definitely a direct connection between propagation of vaccines and the brain degenerative disease known as autism. Lancet recently retracted evidence presented by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his team of pros proving this, yet article was not retracted because it was verifiable – It was retracted because people funding the research already knew the connection and simply needed verifiable scientific proof to make this claim. Yet Lancet's CEO behind this retraction decision has direct financial ties to GlaxoSmithKlein that made the vaccine tested.

    It simply makes sense. In the early 1970's, before the extensive propagation of vaccines, it was 1 child in 2-4000 being diagnosed with autism. Now, "they" recommend over 40 vaccines before children reach the age of 6, and it is now 1 in 110 getting autism? Look at the figures, the research, and come to your own conclusion.

    Even the latest H1N1 vaccine was manufactured using thimerosal [mercury]. This vaccine was never tested for safety by the FDA before its release, and the Novartis simply claimed they had removed the mercury... but where is the proof? The vaccine manufacturer was the only party required to test its own product, when they were given at least $1.6 billion of U.S. currency. People mostly rejected it with many countries wanting their money back, and the vaccine could not stop the flu regardless.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Linda

    @JackieMonroe– would love to know what med(s) have been successful for your son to assist with "focus".
    We have the same situation– our son is 8. He is mainstreamed, great school system, but has some anxiety, he does have trouble staying focused on the task at hand. He is an amazing young man, and we love him dearly.

    I was told that Dr's need to be really careful in prescribing the right medication(s), this is why we haven't taken this step yet– it is a scary process to think about. But we could start a trial this summer. TY.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Tracy

    My son is 4 and was diagnosed with autism at age 2. I knew something was wrong, when at 2-months-old he was showing no signs of holding his head up and he felt floppy. My pediatrician finally agreed to send him to a neurologist when he was 9-months-old and still couldn't sit up. I knew in my heart he was autistic after reading about the disorder and my sons many similarities. He was automatically sent to physical and occupational therapy, assigned an early interventionist and put on medicaid to help with the many bills. Even through the daily tantrums and exhausted parents at night, every day with our son is a joy. We don't know the answers as to what causes it. We've done the gluten-casein free diet, chelation, a variety of supplements and vitamins but everyday is still different from the last and we never know how he will feel on a day-to-day basis. However, with every little step our little fellow makes, we are overcome with love. Just the other day he said his sister's name and he's finally using personal pronouns. The potty training is a different story. That will come with time. We have discovered that medication has helped tremendously. I always thought that medicating a small child was unacceptable. But his level of anxiety has greatly decreased and his language skills have doubled. How could I not give this little boy some relief? We know with time he will overcome this disorder and will prosper into a successful adult. He will still have his problems, but who doesn't?

    April 2, 2010 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Allen

    My son Adrian, who has autism, was born in 1983; this was before the epidemic like increase in the 90's. It took me almost 6 years to get the correct diagnosis. Adrian is non-verbal, has significant delay to his cognitive development, but has no major physical manifestations. Obviously I don't know the cause. I just know that he seemed to be developing on schedule until the age of two, when he just seemed to regress, within a 2 week period. My personal opinion is that there are environmental factors which affect individuals who have a neurological predisposition. What matter most to me now is Adrian has completed high school, can work a job (repetitive task) with supervision, to keep his mind and body active and feel good about himself. He is a very smart young man, who despite the autism has a personality that is always present. I am extraordinarily fortunate to have him as my oldest son.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Carrie

    Interesting that VACCINE COURTS determine there is no connection between vaccines and autism. They are funded by CDC which is funded by lobbiest for Big Pharma. Why can't this case be heard outside of the vaccine courts? Because they know they will lose!!!!

    April 2, 2010 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Sue

    ~40 years ago, my mother figured out that my sister was mildly autistic, after an extensive hunt through the public library. Our pediatrician agreed completely, then said he would never put that down in writing because the public schools would give up on the child and blame the mother.
    Now an official diagnosis is the route to getting some real help for the child.
    I suspect this wonderful change in attitudes has a lot to do with the "epidemic".

    April 2, 2010 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. John Gordon

    My 19 year old son was diagnosed as being autistic when he was three while we were living in Arlington, VA. Years of really hard challenges followed as we, his doctor, and the special education system in Virginia worked together to help him. He is doing much better than in his early years – he learned to talk when he was 10-11 years old and that helped him and his family tremendously. He will never be independent, but he realizes he has a handicap and is dealing with it well and is having a good life (he probably functions around the 6th grade level, overall).

    What really worries me (and other families with autistic families that I know) is what will happen to him in his later years. Many states do not have good assisted living options for autistic adults, since many do not meet the criteria of mental retardation. Without a MR diagnosis it is much harder to get long-term assisted living, which so many autistic children will ultimately need once their parents are gone.

    Given the (unfortunately) growing number of autistic children today, there is going to be a huge need in the future to provide adequate care for them in their adult years, especially once their families cannot care for them any longer.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. George Moore

    Polystyrene breakdown is the cause of the autism pandemic. Polystyrene becomes a neurotoxin when exposed to milk, alcohol, oil and seawater. We are ingesting it directly from our packaged foods and plastic cups/plates. It has leeched into the food chain because plastics are dumped and collect in the oceans. It will take 500 years for the plastics in oceans to deompose if we stopped producing plastic immediately.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Kristen

    RFK Jr is an ATTORNEY. He is one of the idiots waving around the Simpsonwood memo as proof of coverup. I read the ENTIRE memo. It says "more research needs to be done BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL CONTINUE TO TRY TO LINK VCCINES TO AUTISM" not because there is a link. The vaccine injury fund only requires correlation, not causation so there was going to be HUGE money for ATTORNEYS to show a link and get at the cash that the government has set aside for real injuries due to vaccines. Read the Pilgrim study (WAY more recent than Simpsonwood). Large study, NO Correlation.
    Heavy metal toxicity is the same BS in a different package. All the people saying that heavy metals are the problem are trying to sell you something. Please don't waste your money and hopes on "detoxification" programs that really only remove money from your wallet, not the autism from your child.

    I am so glad all the same stories keep popping up. It causes casual bystanders to think that this is new info (RFK, Simpsonwood, Wakefield, same old, same old). That way the public will be confused and those actually dealing with the individuals affected will be left alone to find the best solution for there child.

    PS-5 kids, 2 autistic. 5 inductions with pitosin, 5 vaccinated on time. 1 autistic child with pre-thimersol ban vaccines, 1 autistic chiild after the ban. Heavy metals low in all of them.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Anthony

    Vaccines don't cause Autism
    Autism is incredibly over-diagnosed
    The end.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Karen Stout

    Analyses of fetal blood indicate the presence of hundreds of toxic chemicals. Babies are no longer born pristine, but reflect the polluted environment we've created by our actions. I am not surprised that autism is on the rise. We are simply unwilling to admit that our injection of chemicals into the environment and our children could be part of the problem. It also makes no sense to give babies heavy doses of antibodies/vaccinations in the first year of life and to do it all at once. No one is exposed to several debilitating diseases at a time, yet we expect babies' immune systems to handle several vaccinations at once. This is done for the convenience of doctors, insurance companies, and parents. I suggest that parents space out these vaccinations so their babies can have time to process them one by one. I am not a medical doctor (Ph.D.), but common sense is also useful.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. David

    I've worked with children with Autism for many years. I think it is mportant to keep in mind that Autism is just a set of behaviours. There are many things that contribute to creating these behaviours. Some types of Autistism may be explained this way:
    http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/autism_evolution.shtml

    April 2, 2010 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RC

    @James Wilson Regarding your comment about a national survey, it actually is a huge undertaking; although I agree that it could be very beneficial. Not to be too political, but this is actually a big benefit of the national health care systems in other countries. Data are centralized and many registries exist to follow patients (anonymously) through the health system. The data gathered from these registries and large claims databases are often used for exactly the type of analysis you're talking about. From a research standpoint, our insurance system in the US is too fragmented to allow the same level of analysis. If we could somehow bring all of this information together for the US population, it might yield some interesting information in these types of diseases that are not well understood.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RC

    @ Deborah I'm sorry but this is really flawed. Thimerosal has been banned from vaccines in the UK for quite some time now, and autism is still on the rise there. How do you explain that?

    April 2, 2010 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Mary

    We all had vaccines as children, why is autism more prevalent today? Because parents have no patience for their kids these days. They want to have a named condition so they can dope them up and go on with their lives. I believe autism is over diagnosed.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. stu

    Deborah – it should be easy to tell if vaccines are causing autism because kids who don't get vaccinated wouldn't get it, right? I'm not aware that rates of autism are any different in the non-vaccinated population though – so what gives?

    April 2, 2010 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. laura kirkman

    Our daughter, Molly, was diagnosed PDD-NOS when she was 2 1/2 years old. We started biomedical interventions with her when she was 3 1/2 years old. Within 13 months of starting biomedical interventions with Molly, she was dismissed from all of her services. We consider Molly recovered from her autism, but we still have some behavioral issues that we are working on with her, but most 5 year olds have behavior issues that must be addressed so I don't consider Molly to be too far off the neurotypical mark for a 5 year old. No, she did not have a seizure disorder associated with her autism. We were fortunate enough to be able to address and correct the biological issues that were associated with her autism so that she was able to loose the "autism" label. Dr. Dan Rossignol at the ICDRC in Melbourne, FL is the DAN! we used to help us recover Molly and we owe him many thanks of gratitude for giving us our beautiful daughter back. My message to parents of children with autism is this: please don't dismiss biomedical interventions for your child. There was nothing indicative in Molly's autism that said she would be a good responder to the treatments – we just had to take a leap of faith and try them and they worked so they may work for your child as well. I encourage all parents with autistic children to consider biomedical interventions for their child.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Ara Charder

    It is my belief that MERCURY POISONING, which may be received from vaccinations, tuna fish, and, MANY other sources, by itself, may NOT be responsible for AUTISM, but, just let us consider the possible synergistic effect of MERCURY with the individual: As with something as simple as allergies, some individuals have a REACTION to a substance (MERCURY) and others do NOT. This is merely opening the possibility that the combination of MERCURY with ??? may be the trigger for the autistic attributes we observe.

    It has also been my observation, that when I have been able to communicate with an individual with autism, I have found their minds quite inquiring, and, quite intriguing. Part of our "treatment" of autistic individuals may miss the mark when we strive for "normal." The autistic individual, in my opinion, has more than "normal" to offer:) Should we not focus on FULL potential?)

    April 2, 2010 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Jay

    Deborah,
    You hit the nail on the head. Our son was born in 2000 and up until the age of 2 was a healthy responsvie child. He too was vaccinated with thimerosal. Then, it was as if a switch was turned off. Head shaking, sensitivity to sound, change in eating due to textures, etc. We too had our doubts but of course, few would listen. Today, our son, who is ten, appears normal by those unaware, however the eating issues persist, as do other symptoms like walking on toes, and rocking at night. It seems that the policy in this country is to deny, regardless of the data. I found it interesting that the purer lifestyles of the Amish indicate no such afflictions in their society. Gee, I wonder why?

    April 2, 2010 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Tracyann

    My heart goes out to every parent that has to deal with this fight. I was first introduced to Autism when I began my college degree over 18 years ago. I found it fascinating and disheartening. I had two very young daughters that like many parents were doing what their doctor told them to do and my girls were being vaccinated. After doing a paper on Autism for a class, I began to educate myself on what was being given to my babies. I stopped all vaccines! I was lucky that my girls did not suffer any ill effects of what they had already received in vaccines. I couldn't believe that I have to call the poison control center if I broke my thermometer yet it was okay to inject my children with mercury? That I put antifreeze in my car and it had all the warning labels about it being poison yet they were injecting it into my children. And formaldehyde being used as a preservative in the vaccines, the same thing they inject into dead people during embalming process; I remember saying to myself, :my girls aren't dead, why are we giving them embalming substances?" I began to experience the negativity and stupidity of others once my girls entered school. I had people tell me I was killing my children by not vaccinating them, I was a horrible parent that didn't deserve children, that they didn't want my children around theirs because my children were going to make their child(ren) sick since I didn't protect my children with the vaccines. I was threatened that my children would be kicked out of school and not allowed to return until they were vaccinated; You name, I heard it! I stood my ground and took them on head strong and determined that I was the parent, I made decisions for my girls, I had the right to choose what to put into their bodies, I did not give anyone the right to take that choice and my parenting job away from me. I was lucky to have the backing of the Chiropractic profession helping to keep me moving forward while my husband was in school at Palmer Chiropractic College in my fight while my girls were young too. Too many people have been brainwashed into thinking they have to do this, they only have to take the time to research it for themselves and find out they have choices. Please know that there is information out there to help you in your decisions, there are people willing to help you fight for your rights and what you believe in. I stand strong as a supporter in the campaign Autism Speaks.

    April 2, 2010 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. jaimee

    This is a serious problem and the goverment is not doing enough
    Our future don't look so good with this Genetic disorder growing at this rate, where would we be in 20 years when is 1 in 50. They Govermnet needs to do something now, we must be these kids voices, and demand help for Gods children, everyone with a voice that knows someone with autism a grandson, grandaughter, niece, son. nephew, cousin, friend ,daughter or simply wants to help speak up PLEASE because a lot of them can't.

    April 2, 2010 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Claudia Howard

    What about the studies that seemed to show a link between "older" fathers and their autistic children? The older the parents the higher the likelihood of having an autistic child. These days people are having kids later and later in life- coincidence?

    April 2, 2010 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Kama Summers

    My daughter, Sarah (8), has autism and has received various therapies all of her life. She has made great stides in her development due to God, the right people in her life, and the unending, bottomless love of her family. But things were not always so pleasant. There were seventy-two hour crying fits, hitting, kicking, spitting, vomitting (up to twenty times a day), and lack of sleep (getting up at least 10-14 times a night). There is hope for a bright future; you need to remember a few things: God always is there for you; accept help from others; demand help from the government and schools; and love unconditionally. You need to be strong for your child/children...you are their best advocate. If you don't help them, no one will. And one last thing... you are not alone in your plight.

    April 2, 2010 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Matt Pearson

    @Deborah – What you are listed as resources are silly. All the people you mention have a vested interest in selling their services, their products, or their newspapers. All of which sell more when fear tactics instead of hard science are used. Look @Seth who is posting comments to SELL his services for PROFIT to scared parents, you trust these people more than the scientists?

    There has not been a single peer-reviewed scientific study to link Autism to vaccines nor to heavy-metal poisoning or "processing issues". The studies that are put out have all been discredited or posted in non-peer reviewed scientific journals and the datasets, collection methods, and controls are all highly suspect.

    Your correlations do not equal causation. For example, the Amish have a very insulated gene-pool and thus may not have many genetic conditions found in others. Your way of thinking would indicate that because the last time I got in a car accident it was raining, that I would only get into car accidents on rainy days.

    This is a logical fallacy and our minds from primitive times are trained to find correlations such as "last time i ate red berries i got sick, so i will not eat any red berries any more". This is a simple survival trick and humans are not immune to it. But clearly not all red berries make one sick and that correlation does not stand up to the scientific method.

    April 2, 2010 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Rene StPierre

    I have two sons, 6 and 4. James Wilson mentioned something that also happened to us. Our first son, when born, they used pitocin and he has been diagnosed with high functioning autism. Our second son was born with no drugs to induce her and he does not have any issues at all. I am wondering if maybe there is something there. Good recognition by James on this one.

    April 2, 2010 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Sy2502

    I am curious: all of you who, despite all the research and evidence to the contrary, still believe vaccines cause autism, do you also believe cold air gives you the flu, and stress gives you stomach ulcers? How about demons give you epilepsy? And witches' spells cause SID? Let us know when you are ready to enter the 21st century.

    April 2, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Brenda Morrisey

    Suzanne... you're also slightly mistaken... the school district does not diagnose, but if your child is in a clinical school program, those clinicians (psychiatrists) will diagnose. That's how they do it in Massachusetts. That's how my son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome which I do believe is somehow linked to the vaccines. My son was a happy go lucky and outgoing child until he started school... then he began withdrawing into himself and is only now (at age 20) beginning to come out of it.

    I think it's reckless to say there is no association with vaccines and Autism particularly since it's on the rise and given my experience with the disorder. There is so much we don't know about disease and virus and side affects of medications/vaccines. Is it so outside the realm of possibility, that while the mercury isn't cause, perhaps being injected with a virus, short circuits something in the brain causing these children, who are probably susceptible to begin with, to become Autistic? How do we know that whatever prior generations were exposed to or injected with on top of the next generation's vaccines, isn't putting them at risk?

    April 2, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3

Leave a Reply to Susan O


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

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.