Siblings of kids with autism have language delays
October 8th, 2010
06:10 PM ET

Siblings of kids with autism have language delays

In families in which a child has autism, his or her siblings are more likely to have language delays or speech problems, a new study finds.

The study, to be published in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that these siblings have mild symptoms of autism, and that the same genes that contribute to one sibling's full-blown autism may be at fault.

Researchers looked at data from nearly 3,000 children in the United States from more than 1,200 families. These families are in the Interactive Autism Network, a web-based tool to help advance autism research through sharing information.

They found that 20 percent of siblings had some kind of language delay or speech problems early in life, and half of those children had problems that were autistic in nature. Speech patterns characteristic of autism include pronoun reversal - switching "you" and "I," for instance - and invented words.

These siblings also tended to have social abnormalities associated with autism, the authors found. Families with more than one autistic child were more likely to have an additional child with mild autistic symptoms.

This suggests that many children who do not have an autism diagnosis are still affected by the condition, even if only in a mild way, study authors said. In the general population, about 7 percent of children receive a diagnosis of a speech or language disorder, said lead author Dr. John Constantino of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Many of these children will outgrow or get training to overcome their language problems and have little trace of those abnormalities later in life, Constantino said. But they may provide clues into the mechanism of inheritance of autism in some families.

Further research may reveal what distinguishes children who show this susceptibility to autism but who have been spared the full extent of the condition, he said. This could provide clues into offsetting the disease.

Family history isn't everything, however. There are some families for whom there is no clear inheritance of autism, and no other children seem to have a trace of the disorder, Constantino noted.

Another avenue to explore is the gender ratio in autism. About four boys are thought to have the condition for every one girl with it, but Constantino's study found a ratio of three boys to two girls when including these milder traits. That means that there may be additional girls who benefit from the same kinds of social, psychological, and educational interventions for autism that are more commonly given to boys, Constantino said.

As researchers learn more about the nature of autism, new genetic links become clear as more evidence emerges against a link to vaccines.

soundoff (238 Responses)
  1. BillRubin

    I hope that the people who comment here can recognize confirmation bias and as well understand the limitations of anecdotal evidence.

    October 8, 2010 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Frank

      so far, apparently not.

      October 9, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse |
    • BillRubin

      Then it's pointless to present well-designed studies and sound evidence if the other party cannot (or chooses not to) discriminate it from anecdotes, correlations, or appeals to misleading authority (i.e. celebrity).

      October 9, 2010 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
    • P Ellen K

      I posted this below as well. You point is a good one. I found Jerome Groopman's book How Doctors Think an excellent guide to evaluating mass media medical information

      October 9, 2010 at 17:23 | Report abuse |
    • Claire M.

      Even if they could (if they were being rational), you have to remember that emotional triggers are firing, and they are running scripts based on strong engrams. I have a lot of empathy for them.

      October 10, 2010 at 00:06 | Report abuse |
    • HermanC

      Obviously if they are twins, they both received thimerosal-laced vaccine shots at the same time. American pharmaceutical firms rounded up the last of the thimerosal-based vaccines and gave them to China, which has just seen a 400% increase in autism. Didn't anyone stop to think about the history Minamata Disease? 'Rarediseases.about.com/od/rarediseases1/a/102304.htm'

      October 10, 2010 at 01:40 | Report abuse |
    • BillRubin

      Claire M, that's a great point. It's difficult to stay rational with such a heated topic. HermanC, I think your reply was intended for someone else.

      October 10, 2010 at 06:56 | Report abuse |
  2. Maurine meleck

    The genetic part connected is perhaps the predisposition to adverse effects from environmental toxins as in vaccines.
    Here's my story-first autistic grandson diagnosed at 2 and a half-had vaccines to age 2. Second grandson 4 months old at that time-stopped his vaccinations right then–had PDD-NOS at 13 months of age-from early vaccines–recovered with bio-med treatments by age 4 and a half. Older broither, who had more vaccines, is still in recovery.

    October 8, 2010 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thor

      since everyone who get's vaccinated around the same age that autism is detectable the correlation is invalid. Furthermore the doctors involved in the claim that vaccine causes autism have been stripped of the right to practice medicine. Aswell as full retractions from the New England Journal of Medicine, and the American Medical Association. It was junk science. People don't like to think genetics are to blame for any illness, as to them it feels like the fault lies within them. Vaccine is safe, and hasn't changed. Autism is just recognized, and no longer lumped into the group term "idiot" or "lunatic" as was common in days past. Vaccines are recieved around the time autism symptoms present. It's a coincidence.

      October 9, 2010 at 03:18 | Report abuse |
    • KJ

      Sounds like genetics to me....

      October 9, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
    • Becky

      My 19yo has the same severity of autism (Aspergers) as her father, cousin and grandfather. She was the only one of the three NOT vaccinated. Not vaccinating her did not protect her from being on the autistc spectrum. I do not believe it is from vaccination. I believe that it is genetic. I hate that unscrupulous "professionals" are coming up with "treatments" to take advantage of the desperation of well-meaning parents.

      October 9, 2010 at 18:03 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Yeah! Forget vaccinating! It's sooo much better to get polio or small pox. Or better yet, we can expose our sickly, unvaccinated kids and spread diseases that should be long gone.

      I am very much a natural health lover and I avoid many toxins, but no way I'm going to risk my child's health or other people's health by being too selfish and paranoid to vaccinate. There is NO proof that vaccinating causes autism and even if there were, the benefits outweigh the potential problems.

      October 9, 2010 at 19:26 | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Maurine Meleck – the only thing you're doing by spewing your lies about vaccines is to put your own kids, and mine (by virture of the fact that they are in the same generation) at risk. If you want to live with the risks of a 3rd world nation, then go move to one.

      We're about this far from starting up a concerted effort to deny your unvaccinated children access to services (such as education, sports leagues, etc) that would put them along side children like mine (who have been vaccinated)

      October 9, 2010 at 19:54 | Report abuse |
    • Patricia

      They've already established that vaccines do not cause autism. There is not even a correlation. Studies have looked for a link. Apparently. new evidence is showing genetics correlations. .

      October 9, 2010 at 20:36 | Report abuse |
    • LKJ

      I disagree with pushing vaccinations on children. I did fully vaccinate my three oldest, though the vaccine schedule back in the 80s was much less intense than it is now. When my youngest was born I stopped all vaccinations, not because any of my children suffered ill effects but because I was less convinced after doing more research. This was not an easy decision but I'm glad I made it. My youngest is 15 now, has never been vaccinated, and has a very healthy immune system. I believe it's better to let the child's immune system develop naturally. I'm currently suffering from immune system problems that started when I was vaccinated before an overseas trip.

      October 9, 2010 at 20:37 | Report abuse |
    • Joeymom

      LKJ- my kids ARE vaccinated, and are rarely ill. My eldest was not sick a single day until he was two (and had to go to school). Oh, and he's autistic- and showed signs from birth (and possibly before- he sure didn't like sonography!). Oh, and they didn't get whooping cough when it tore through town, or measles when the kid down the street got it, or the meningitis that rears its ugly head at school regularly.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:32 | Report abuse |
    • astralrose

      A fellow I worked with did not vaccinate his two children–his older child, a boy, has autism. Both of my children were vaccinated, both are girls, the younger one has autism.
      I would love to know what causes autism–my daughter's doctor says it's genetic.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:37 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      LKJ, the ONLY reason your kids aren't sick is because most parents do vaccinate their children. If everyone was foolish enough to skip vaccinations, we'd have numerous epidemics of diseases that could be avoided.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:46 | Report abuse |
    • MedStudent



      October 9, 2010 at 23:54 | Report abuse |
    • Overcat

      I had a full range of vaccines when I was a young kid. Less than ten years later I entered puberty. Is that a coincidence too?

      100% of all autistic children drank water within 72 hours prior to being diagnosed and yet it is still allowed in preschool. Someone look into the water lobby.

      And so on.

      October 10, 2010 at 00:08 | Report abuse |
    • Claire M.

      There is no existing evidence of a link between vaccines and autism. However, we don't know what triggers autism in those already genetically predisposed. We haven't even identified the genes involved with different symptoms along the spectrum, nor the environmental factors that may contribute. Until we know for sure what is genetic, congenital, and environmental in the mix, most of it is speculation at this point. Humans also have an instinctive tendency to reify beliefs of any sort, and this situation is no exception.

      October 10, 2010 at 00:19 | Report abuse |
    • HermanC

      Obviously if they are twins, they both received thimerosal-laced vaccine shots at the same time. American pharmaceutical firms rounded up the last of the thimerosal-based vaccines and gave them to China, which has just seen a 400% increase in autism. Didn't anyone stop to think about the history of Minamata Disease? 'Rarediseases.about.com/od/rarediseases1/a/102304.htm' Apparently not. There is no government program for vaccine-related illnesses, but EVERYONE is a 'genetic defect' for dollars, then branded for life as AUT, SLD, OHI, ADD, and the Fed money just keep rolling in for psychologists.
      Who knew environmental pollution could become such a huge welfare tax dole profit center? Apparently Al Gore has!!!

      October 10, 2010 at 01:47 | Report abuse |
    • Amanda

      I have three children. The oldest received all vaccinations- no autism. We held off vaccinations for the second child because of the vaccine Autism scare. He is Autistic. Our third child was fully vaccinated- no Autism.

      October 10, 2010 at 22:44 | Report abuse |
    • Ed Zachary

      The genetic link can be seen most easily in the way that parents of autistic children seem to frequently suffer from a strange form of the disease themselves, which makes them more susceptible to believing in conspiracy theories and loony "science".

      October 11, 2010 at 06:48 | Report abuse |
    • MAC

      I wish people would stop blaming vaccines for autism at this point. The scientific research which supports that belief has been retracted and the findings have been deemed invalid. It needs to be accepted that this is the consequences of poor genetics. Parents that have children with cystic fibrosis do not blame vaccines, but rather recognize the genetic component and work towards cures and treatment rather than blame vaccines, diet, or whatever excuse is next.

      October 11, 2010 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
  3. SR

    My son is PDD-NOS. I do not find this study to reflect my children development. My daughter, who is typical developing, started talking at 7 months. She had over 150 words by 16 months, and was talking full sentences before 2 yrs old. Her language skills are still more advance than any other children in her class. I attribute her sophisticated language development to her brother. As an infant, my husband and I used the same skills and techniques to encourage language on both children. Some how it clicked with my daughter, my son still is struggling with finding his voice.

    October 8, 2010 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Doug

      It sounds like your experiences are totally consistent with what is described in the article. The article reports that 20% of siblings of autistic kids show language delays. That mean that most (80%) do not show language delays. It sounds like your girl falls into that 80%.

      This article is just pointing out that siblings of autistic kids have slightly higher rates of language delays, suggesting the possibility of some sort of complex multigenic inheritance (although as one commenter astutely points out, this could also be a result of environmental factors or of detection biases – in other words, parents with one autistic child are more likely to notice subtle delays). This sort of information is important for scientists, as it can help us understand the causes of autism; however, it still means that most of the time, siblings of autistic kids will develop just fine.

      October 8, 2010 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
    • SR

      I just wanted point out that her language achievements were not delayed, but are more advanced than most typical children. She had hit her verbal (as well as other developmental) milestones long before what is consider age appropriate. Second, is this research or finding of this study really “new”? Four years ago, I was pregnant with my daughter when my son was diagnosed. I was immediately informed that siblings of a child on the spectrum have an increase of 15-25% of also being on the spectrum.

      October 9, 2010 at 02:16 | Report abuse |
    • CT73

      Advanced development is also possible when the child falls on the typical bell curve of language development.

      I believe the article is trying to make the fine distinction between likelihoods of siblings being on the spectrum, and siblings having spectrum-like qualities in their language abilities despite not meeting that basic level to qualify as being autistic. I guess in that way, it's more of an extension of what we know, and it points to a strong genetic factor.

      October 9, 2010 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
  4. elaine dow

    We know that some children are suseptable to mercury poisoning than others. Just like some people can not have pennicillen. So if one children has autism, than it would be resaonable to say that family may be vulnerable to mercury poisoning. Thimerosal, the mercury based preservative in vaccines is still present in the flu vaccine and H1N1, DT, that pregnant mother receives. It is also in trace amounts in the preschool vaccine schedule. Full amounts are in the vaccines children receive in middle school, high school, and college students. Half of the children today have some form of vaccine injury. Asthma, seizures, ADD/HD, food allergies, language delay, chronic illness and autoimmune diseases are all symptoms of mercury poisoning. To say the benefit outweighs the risk, which we hear from the medical community, is just trying to justify the unhealthiest generation of children. You would inject a child with lead, why are the doctors injecting them with mercury, which is hundreds of times more toxic. The media, whose largest sponsors are drug companies, is doing nothing more then contributing to the epidemic of sickly children.

    October 8, 2010 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lauren

      You are hurting my head. This is just more evidence that uniformed ppl (like Jenny McCarthy) need to keep their mouths shut and listen to the medical professionals who actually have the science to back up what they are saying.

      October 8, 2010 at 23:07 | Report abuse |
    • Lauren

      And the less people with vaccinations, the higher likelihood of an epidemic. It really ticks me off that you won't get your kid vaccinated and that leads to a higher chance of people getting sick.

      October 8, 2010 at 23:09 | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      As you point out, mercury has now been removed from almost all childhood vaccines (even the one exception, the two-dose flu vaccine, offers the option of a mercury-free version). This was done years ago, yet autism rates have continued to climb. Anyone still promoting the theory that mercury in vaccines is the cause of the increase in autism is either completely unaware of the evidence, or is being dishonest.

      October 8, 2010 at 23:13 | Report abuse |
    • thor

      I had mercury poisoning at a young age. And I lived. And did not develop autism. Kids are sickly and weak because they are raised indoors under flourescent lights, and being fed garbage. We used to be active 8-16 hours a day, Not 45 minutes of playing on the rug. Kids need to run and eat real food. Which they do not. This is why kids have more ashtma and obesity and diabetes and what have you. Mercury in vaccine outweighs the risk by not letting you die of whooping cough. How many years of med school did you do? And India doesn't count.

      October 9, 2010 at 03:23 | Report abuse |
    • KJ

      I agree with Lauren and Thor – also, there are millions of people that have multiple allergies yet come from families who do not. Vaccination outweighs the risk of autism and from experience is definitely a genetic issue.

      October 9, 2010 at 09:45 | Report abuse |
    • Mamax2

      What people do not realize is that thimerosal is STILL USED to PROCESS 9i.e., MAKE)vaccines, but is no longer used as a preservative. What does this mean? It means that the thimerosal BINDS itself to the proteins that are the main component of the vaccines- it is attached and therefore there. The claim is that the thimerosal is 'filtered' out at the end of processing and therefore no longer technically 'present'. However is it is now attached to the protein component of the vaccine. The claim that thimerosal is no longer used as a preservative is true. But this is evasive semantics hoping that the general public will believe the vaccine is thimerosal free. Until they stop using thimerosal in the processing they cannot truly claim that the vaccine is thimerosal free. And the argument that thimerosal is not linked to autism can't hold up, because THEY ARE STILL USING IT, JUST NOT AS A PRESERVATIVE.

      October 9, 2010 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      Mamax2: Although it is clear that you are quite passionate about this, you have your facts mangled. They certainly don't "filter out" mercury, but it is pretty easy to remove it. Mercury simply does not bind terribly tightly to most proteins, so it is very easy to remove by chelation (which is why chelation therapy is effective for mercury poisoning). Therefore, whether it is present during manufacturing is irrelevant.

      Sincerely, a protein biochemist

      October 9, 2010 at 20:20 | Report abuse |
    • Cam

      There is no doubt that you are correct... what you have said is what I have witnessed..

      October 9, 2010 at 21:20 | Report abuse |
    • Joeymom

      You are mistaken. Only the flu vaccines still contain thimerosal, and only if they are multi-dose vials- rarely used in the US. The vaccines given to older children do not have it, and have not had it since 2002.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:34 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      Prove any link to any of those conditions and you will win the Nobel Prize, make billions of dollars, and cure millions of people. People have looked at this so many times all around the world and there is no link. Everyone, including the drug companies wished research was that easy. It is not. Do you know that there is more mercury in a single can of tuna than in all of the childhood vaccines combined? Do you know that there was more antigenic material in a single small pox vaccine or the old pertussis vaccine than in all of the vaccines given to children and young adults combined? Your crazed theories don't hold water.

      October 10, 2010 at 01:37 | Report abuse |
    • HermanC

      Obviously if they are twins, they both received thimerosal-laced vaccine shots at the same time. American pharmaceutical firms rounded up the last of the thimerosal-based vaccines and gave them to China, which has just seen a 400% increase in autism. Didn't anyone stop to think about the history of Minamata Disease? 'Rarediseases.about.com/od/rarediseases1/a/102304.htm' Of course there is 'no pharmaceutical correlation'! Think of the bankrupting to American biopharmaceutical industry! But if they can pass the cost on to the long-suffering taxpayers for a Government welfare tax dole plan for LIFE, based on spurious claims of 'genetic causation', which I DEFY anyone to find a peer-reviewed and published confirmation of any such link, when literally MILLIONS of psychologists and PE's can make a good living on the ADD, SLD, OHI, AUT train.
      M-I-N-A-M-A-T-A D-I-S-E-A-S-E ... then think about Mad Cow Disease, where that 'evolved' from, near bio-weapons labs, and how AIDS was brought to America after Belgian medical researchers used *chimp* blood to grow hepatitis vaccines, but it's the TAXPAYER again who ends up paying for the prevention and treatment of AIDS patients for LIFE. People need to understand that a large cadre of very powerful people would like Earth's population cut by 80%, and soon, while another competing group would like Earth's population used as a medical experiment populating their corporate bottom line with $'s. Wait until al-Gore'ains establish their Global Carbon Caliphate and National 'Climate' Tithe-Tax after the November elections!

      October 10, 2010 at 02:00 | Report abuse |
  5. seawitchq

    Ok, forgive me people, but I have to comment here. It's an interesting article, but that doesn' t mean it's gospel for every family. Or maybe I just believe we make our own future, sometimes in spite of what we are told by medical science. Two out of my four children have autism – one son and one daughter. And the only child with a speech delay was my son. My daughter, who has Autism Spectral Disorder [Asperger's syndrome} was very early with her speech. However, she was diagnosed much later than my son, who was profoundly autistic at the age of 15 months. Both of my other two boys spoke very early [one of them in short sentences at age 1], and are very social. My autistic son didn't really talk until he was about 4, and he required speech therapy from age 2 until he started high school, but the kid with the "very poor" prognosis at the age of 3 [per his pediatric neurologist] is today as verbal as I am. He himself states that he'll never make a customer service rep [due to his autism] but his employer just promoted him.
    And just for the record, all of my kids got all of their shots. My Mother grew up in Kentucky during the Great Depression, and remembered friends and relatives who died of Measles, Polio, and Whooping Cough. Out of respect for her I made certain every child had every shot, even though some of those shots scared me. My Mother always said there were things much scarier than vaccinations – like death, for instance. Or Iron Lungs. And I give this testimony of her in her memory. Without my Mom {who died in 1998} I never would have made it.

    October 8, 2010 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam

      The article just points out a statistical correlation that may hint at and underlying genetic factor in some percent of cases. The article says 20% of autistic children's non-autistic siblings also had speech delays. Since 100% – 20% = 80%, that means the vast majority don't. CNN's headline is, as usual, extremely misleading and intended simply to boost click-through not to inform.

      October 10, 2010 at 00:16 | Report abuse |
  6. drowssap

    It probably comes down to two simple things.
    1: The kids are around their autistic sibling all the time, it's no surprise that they would pick up some of the autistic siblings mannerisms.
    2: The parents are devoting most of their time to caring for the autistic child. The non-autistic child is left with the scraps and is often forced into a caretaker role at an early age. I'm sure this delays some of their development as well.

    Before the Autism Army comes in to vent their Righteous Rage think about this. How many Autism related events have you gone to in the last year? How many events have you gone to that involved your other child?

    October 8, 2010 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Katya

      drowssap, thank you very much for raising a very important point. I've lost count of the number of families I've seen where all the parents' attention and resources are devoted to an afflicted child and the siblings always take second place. So many of those siblings - particularly daughters, who usually are expected to be unpaid caretakers - end up being hurt and resentful. Cherry - I am sure that you sincerely believe that your non-autistic children don't feel neglected, but I would be interested in what they have to say - when you're not around.

      October 9, 2010 at 02:31 | Report abuse |
    • PleaseDontComment

      Per day, I spend more time with my daughter than my son who is on the spectrum. His school is farther away from our home, so his commute is longer. After school, he is in therapy. I spend a considerable part of my day with one-on-one with my daughter. She has also benefited tremendously from my son's therapies, directly and indirectly. When she was younger, some of the therapists would include her in the sessions, making it a learning experiences for both children.

      I attend ALL the functions and events for BOTH my children at schools. Ironically, my daughter sometimes comments that the events at my son's school were more fun than the one at hers.

      For those who do not have a child on the spectrum, please do not post any comments. Unless you have walked mile in our footsteps, you have no idea what we are experiencing.

      October 9, 2010 at 06:29 | Report abuse |
    • FloridaSNMom

      We homeschool both children, the autistic 15 year old son because the school would not keep the services he needed in middle and high school, and he was unable to function in that environment; the 7 year old "neurologically typical" daughter because she wanted to be, and because I'm not certain that a school district that had so much trouble with my autistic son's accommodations was the best for my daughter who while not developmentally delayed is a fairly fragile asthmatic.

      We spend equal time, roughly with both children. My daughter does the bulk of her schoolwork in the morning and early afternoon, my son in the afternoon and early evening because he is *not* a morning person and she is. They both get 1:1 time daily, they both have strengths and weaknesses academically and we focus on both of those areas for them. They both have activities outside the house based on their ability and interests. Are the outside activities equal? No, not exactly. My daughter is more social and likes to even go grocery shopping (a lot of educational opportunities there too). Grocery shopping is sometimes overwhelming for my son, we try to take him during quieter periods of the day, and in quieter seasons. This weekend for example, the 7 year old went to a special 'pixie day' at the library celebrating the release of the new Tinkerbell movie. She had a blast, watching the movie with a group of kids her own age, doing crafts, etc. My son would not have been able to handle the small conference room of the library packed with 41 kids his own age, it would have been too much stimulation and he would have had a melt down. However, tomorrow we are taking him to the Come Out with Pride event because he's developed a strong interest in politics and current events, we have LGBT friends and he wants to show them support. We'll take earplugs to reduce noise, and he's taking his DS to 'de-stim' in the crowd as needed. Schedule is open, if he gets overwhelmed, we leave early, but he's been prompted in what to expect and what to do about anything that makes him uncomfortable (social delays, he doesn't like any public displays of affection no matter genders involved). He wants to go, he wants his voice to be heard, he wants to support his friends, and his Uncles. He can be very vocal about his beliefs, so we're hoping there's few counter-protesters.

      But, they are 7.5 years apart. We planned it that way because of his delays and because he had some very violent behaviors when he was younger. Honestly, how many teens and elementary students in *any* household get the exact same amount of attention? She has more direct supervision on a daily basis than he does. He has more alone time in his room, which is his choice, and to some extent his need. It may not work for every family, but it works for us.

      October 9, 2010 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
    • Caral from SoCal

      Wow. Well, I think any parent of more than one child will tell you that things are never "equal" for any two siblings. Different children have different needs, some are more laidback and easy...some demand more "talktime"...some just want to be in the same room with you all the time, but can do there own thing. We have homeschooled (everybody) and the middle one was our "on the spectrum" son. At three months he would not make eye contact, and screamed if held. I can honestly say we have done our level best to include everybody in everything. This article does not apply to my family, and neither does your comment. (Son never uttered one word until he was 39 months old...but then he did begin to speak in sentences, reading soon after.)

      October 9, 2010 at 17:25 | Report abuse |
    • Joeymom

      Yes, the sibling role is often overlooked and ignored. We are very careful to balance out time and attention between our guys, but being a sibling of a disabled child is still no easy row to hoe. There needs to be a lot more support for siblings and their experiences. Even with everything carefully balanced, my non-disabled child often feels the stress and, like many siblings of any experience or situation, feels the other is favored.

      October 10, 2010 at 00:06 | Report abuse |
    • HermanC

      ...and in all fairness to the Chosen of Pharmacology, children who are autistic have been shown to prefer the flat, deadpan speech patterns of tinny TV speakers, and shun the lively, sing-song voices of their mothers who had to leave then at day-care since they were infants, parked in front of a TV, fed, diapered, swabbed, and planted right back in front of the TV. Wait until this generation of HALO2 game players is old enough to own automatic rifles with sniper scopes, but you will never see a statistical study of game playing versus gun slaughtering, because American 'science' is very carefully parsed, and I will give you a perfect example. Nuclear facilities pushed to have 'low-level' radioactive waste incorporated into the scrap metal chain for resmelting into new steel, and they got away with it. Only a few years ago, a friend of mine was on the Russian nuclear navy scrapping project, sending nuclear ships to India to be scavenged and wire-sawed on the beach. And where did all that highly radioactive steel end up? Smelted into radioactive razor blades in the EU and US, followed by a massive coverup after the first i-articles started to appear online about the 'alarming' levels of radioactivity being detected, just like 'depleted uranium' is 'not a problem for the environment' because corrupted academics were paid to vouch for it. We're their dumping ground, their guinea pigs, now we're their Usury Serfs, paying off their $15 TRILLION gambling debts.

      October 10, 2010 at 02:14 | Report abuse |
  7. Annie

    All of my non-vaccinated children are very healthy and intelligent. I'm wondering if this study is simply showing that when parents vaccinate one child, they vaccinate ALL their children. And it isn't just the mercury that is toxic, it is also the aluminum (or the combo of both) that is harming children even while still in the womb if the mother lets the doctor shoot her up with the flu shot etc while pregnant. Or thanks to her greedy & arrogant dentist, she may have a mouth full of mercury fillings to harm her unborn children as well. Notice how allergies (especially to peanuts) are on the rise? Peanut oil is an ingredient in vaccines so the body develops an allergy to peanuts and other foods such as pomegranates that have the same molecular weight as peanuts. I have never regretted not vaccinating my children who are now 27, 23 & 16 years of age. Just say "NO" to all vaccines if you want healthy children. Don't fall for the lying propoganda of the filthy rich Pharmaceutical companies. Be smart.

    October 9, 2010 at 00:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MD

      Annie, You are incredibly misinformed, ignorant and frankly dangerous. Please keep your ridiculous aasertions to yourself.

      October 9, 2010 at 01:23 | Report abuse |
    • mike

      If people like you were in charge of the worlds scientific research, we would all be still using leeches to drain the "bad blood". Being a biologist....thats someone who has learned from these people you call professors and doctors...who, well maybe learned and studied from others doctors or scholars...thats people who have created most of the medicines and medical practices that improve your lives....I now only read the news article comments to get a good laugh at idiots like you who would fail middle school biology.

      October 9, 2010 at 01:34 | Report abuse |
    • JAE1983

      You're going to feel really bad if your daughter contracts measles during pregnancy and gives birth to a brain-damaged child. Have you thought about that?

      October 9, 2010 at 04:32 | Report abuse |
    • JT

      Or when you contract Hep A from a fast food worker who simply didn't wash his/her hands after they went to the bathroom, and made your burger, thus contaminating your food with the Hep A virus, which you eat, get Hep A and pass on to all the people who you live with. Why would you pass that on, if you could stop it from ever being an issue?

      You cannot stop many things that may happen in life, but if you can prevent from illness that is passed on so easily, why wouldn't you?

      October 9, 2010 at 11:01 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      Simple people have simple ideas. Look at Jenny McCarthy. It would be great for everyone if the solution for autism was vaccines. It would be even greater for the drug companies because if it was vaccines, we would know just how and why autism happens. They would then be able to design drugs and therapies that they could sell to millions of people worldwide for trillions of dollars. They would be able to design new vaccines which they could charge even more for again resulting in even greater profits. I wish it was that simple, everyone involved in caring for children with autism wishes it was that simple, but it is not. People who don't vaccinate should get down on their knees and thank vast majority who see this crazed fear for what it is and who do vaccinate. That is why we no longer see horrible deadly diseases like small pox, polio, Hib, diptheria, tetanus, measles...

      October 9, 2010 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
    • Audrey

      Please keep your child out of our schools, and away from our children. He/she is a vector of disease. Children who are not vaccinated should not be allowed in public schools or on public playgrounds. This WILL end up at the Supreme Court, after a few children die, and there will, eventually, be compulsory vaccination (no "check the box" exception) for all public schools and public services.

      October 9, 2010 at 17:43 | Report abuse |
    • kad

      Okay, so you did not immunize your children, and they were allowed to attend public schools (which in most states, would not happen in 2010) the reason YOUR children did not develop any of these diseases, is because the majority of the population chose to immunize their children, making yours safe! Have you ever thought of that?

      October 9, 2010 at 19:49 | Report abuse |
    • Xilo

      What, exactly, is the molecular weight of a peanut?

      October 9, 2010 at 22:39 | Report abuse |
    • Joeymom

      I didn't have a flu shot when I was pregnant with my first (my friends a the time believed it might cause autism, but I was fortunate and didn't get the flu that year). I have no fillings. I avoided fish and other sources of mercury. My child was still born autistic.

      With my second son, I didn't bother with any of that, and got RhoGAM to boot, and he is not autistic. Oh, and I was on insulin for gestational diabetes with the second as well.

      I'd be more interested in a study looking at correlation between gestational diabetes and autism. The stuff you are talking about has already been debunked.

      October 10, 2010 at 00:49 | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      "The body develops an allergy to peanuts and other foods such as pomegranates that have the same molecular weight as peanuts." Congrats – this may be the single most ill-informed comment ever posted on CNN (and there is pretty steep competition for that award). Peanuts don't have a molecular weight, and the molecular weight of a molecule has nothing to do with your bodies immune response. Using big words that you clearly do not understand does not make your comment intelligent, it just makes you look ridiculous.

      October 10, 2010 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
    • md

      Thank you for not vaccinating your children.
      Now the world is a bit more at risk for contracting obsolete diseases (you know, whooping cough, MMR, polio, diphtheria...right? ever heard of those?). The people most at risk are patients who cannot even receive vaccines because of their immune system (cancer patients). We are supposed to be herding the immunity towards them. Not towards pretentious parents who believe that their children will become "unhealthy" and "toxic" (or whatever media garbage is out there) from vaccinations. Now the world is really going to end in 2012.

      October 10, 2010 at 16:14 | Report abuse |
    • Emily

      Welcome to the 21st century, Annie. Stay a while. Learn some things. We don't use leeches in medicine most of the time any more, and we don't burn people for being witches. I promise you that pomegranates and peanuts don't have the same 'molecular weight'–what on earth do you even mean by that? Peanuts aren't a molecule.... Your kids are healthy because everybody else got their vaccines. As long as people like you stay in the minority, we'll be fine.

      October 10, 2010 at 20:19 | Report abuse |
    • ES

      There are many things wrong with what you have said. First of all, let me get it out there that ANY PERSON WITH AUTISM IS STILL A PERSON. They are not "unhealthy", and children with normal development are not "healthy". As a sibling of a great girl with autism, it has always been a struggle of mine to make sure people are informed about IDD's. (Intellectual/Developmental Delays) The term "autism" doesn't change who a person is...it just describes what they struggle with. We all have things that we struggle with, so it has always bothered me that we have to give a name to certain people's problems.

      Second, THERE IS NO CORRELATION BETWEEN GETTING VACCINES AND GIVING BIRTH TO A CHILD WITH AUTISM. That theory has been debunked many times over. It is completely irresponsible of you to not give your children vaccines. Even if there was a pattern between vaccines and autism cases, wouldn't you rather have a child with social and developmental struggles than have a child die from an infectious disease? I agree with earlier comments...your kids were healthy because you relied on other kids getting vaccines. How selfish can you get? "Protecting" your kids from having certain delays, but making other parents "subject" their children to the "risks"? Think about what would happen if everyone took your mindset and didn't get their children vaccinated. The schools would be a melting pot of bacteria, viruses, and other diseases. I can guarantee almost every child would get sick.

      Check your facts, check your reasoning, and check your ego before posting comments like this again. And keep your kids away from the public.

      October 10, 2010 at 22:16 | Report abuse |
    • Dr.Phil

      You are too stupid to use vaccines. Your genetic material should not be spread to future generations. Since not getting vaccine means death is always around the corner from preventable illness, and you are too dumb to prevent it then it's just natural selection. Except the offspring pay for the mistakes of the dimmer parent. If people want to blame soemthing other than DNA fine, prove it. DNA would seem a likely culprit as you don't catch it from a sneeze.

      October 11, 2010 at 07:00 | Report abuse |
  8. cherry

    I respect everyones opinion and think we all have the right to voice our believes. I am a parent of four children 1 who was diagnosed with autism which is my oldest child. To one person who commented that we care more for the autistic child than the others is a damn fool. I have never ever made my other three children think they were less or
    more than their brother. A mother is a mother to all of their children not just one because of their condition. Now to the person who mention Jenny McCarthy your right she is a bunch of nonsense...I agree with you about paying attention to the scientist about their studies. Their is a reason why they are the ones doing the study and not you. They have evidence to back their information up. You can either agree or disagree with this article. But as for me I will say I agree. I have two of my kids who have to take speech therapy since age 5 but my son now in 3rd grade has graduated speech so who knows maybe they are on to something.... just my two cents!

    October 9, 2010 at 01:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thor

      Your willingness to accept indicates you aren't looking to lay blame. And for that i commend you. Learning new things and accepting that the medical world isn't one big conspiracy is both practical and healthy. Average life span has gone up, because doctors and researchers do care about people. Maybe with enough study they can correct the autism issue once and for all. We have come a long way from the days of ostracizing people with mental challenges and obvious differences.

      October 9, 2010 at 03:27 | Report abuse |
  9. Helen

    Talk about cherry picking!

    Look at the stats. One of every 110 children are BORN autistic and of those autistic children, 4 out of 5 are boys. Those are hard stats. If all children are vaccinated, why is it that boys have the greater incidence of autism? If vaccinations are the culprit, it would follow that boys and girls in equal numbers would fall into the autism category. Yet, they don't!

    Let's stop talking about vaccinations and start trying to find the genetic cause of ASD.

    As for the language difficulties in young children, if an older sibling has a language problem, it stands to reason that his younger sibling will pick up that trait and echo his usage. It is not isolated to ASD children only.

    October 9, 2010 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KJ

      You go helen!! YES!!!

      October 9, 2010 at 09:47 | Report abuse |
    • HermanC

      Helen your whole premise just fell apart! If autism was genetic, an equal number of boys and girls would have autism as well, unless it's a variant on some generation and gender skipping disease like Klinefelter syndrome. They don't! Also chromosomal diseases are extremely rare. Autism is not. It's over-diagnosed. Also chromosomal diseases of the cerebral system tend to manifest later in life, like Parkinson's. Autism occurs in the first two years, right during the intense MMR vaccination period. Girls have more fat and skinnier veins, it could be just the horrible luck of the draw whether the needle hits a vein or not and sends a pulse of thimersoral to the brain, or it could propagate through the lymphatic system. As I recall, the old MMR was a series of needle pushes in a circle, not a jab, and the old polio was a drop on a sugar cube, so neither was injected, and all those significant variables are simply washed out in the chest beating by the pharmaceutical companies who CONTROL the AMA. Hey, the AMA just approved red-and-blue LED light device for 'adjusting your chakra'.

      October 10, 2010 at 02:33 | Report abuse |
    • Helen

      HermanC, you've restated exactly what I stated!

      Autism IS a genetic disease! And, has nothing to do with vaccines! A family I work with has 3 severly autistic children while another family has 2 autistic children. All boys with the exception of one girl. Three out of 5 of these children were not vaccinated. With your new LED chakra, can you explain that? I think not.

      And btw, autism is not contagious. Suggest you examine stats before making foolish statements.

      October 10, 2010 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
  10. PHinMiami

    When will someone do a study on autism that will include how often they were carried around in baskets (instead of being HELD), how often they were strapped into baby carriages (instead of being HELD), or propped with artificial nourishment (instead of being HELD & Nursed). Man has evolved through the unimaginable, only to be undone by lazy parenting.

    October 9, 2010 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DocSoup

      Autism is not caused by anyone or anything. Parenting may influence behavior with healthy non-challenged children, but parents cannot cause a child to develop autism. My experience has been that some of the best, most loving, and patient parents have children with autism. Autism is genetic. Chromosome 15 has been implicated in some cases. There are genetic switches that cause a child to progress on to the next stage that are either absent or "stuck" in the off position. Most children have different genetic problems, therefore the broad spectrum of the disease. This research is not generally published in the mainstream media because it is complicated, boring to read, most people couldn't understand it, and it doesn't sell ads.

      October 9, 2010 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • FloridaSNMom

      My autistic 15 year old is my oldest child, he was nursed as a child, he was held, and thanks to family support, I did not work at all his first 8 months, and only part time his first 18 months. He was *never* neglected, he was always loved, and knew he was loved. He had echolic speech only (repeating what he heard) for the first several years of his life. He could recite the alphabet, and how to spell his name through his speech. He was not officially diagnosed until he was 6 years old because the pediatrician refused to listen to my concerns (boys just talk late sometimes, boys just throw worse temper tantrums) as the siblings of all sisters I had no real basis of comparison for a boy and believed my pediatrician knew what he was talking about. I wish I'd listened more to what I felt and insisted, he would have started therapy much earlier. Most of his early therapy, including increasing his speech, eye contact and behavioral we researched and implemented ourselves because we couldn't get services without a diagnosis and everyone wanted to 'rule out' autism and give him 5 *other* diagnoses which are all co-morbid with and add up to autism. Now he's doing much better, we're still focusing a lot on improving vocabulary, on social skills, on getting him ready for the real world, but we have hope that he will one day be an independent and productive adult. We're lucky that he's high functioning and that we had the resources to research and the skill to implement things on our own, not everyone is that lucky.

      By comparison my daughter is 7, very social, very talkative, and shows none of her brother's delays, and yes, we've been watching *very* closely. I understand how lucky we are to have only one autistic child, I know many families with 2 or 3 somewhere on the spectrum.

      Do I think inoculations had something to do with my son's autism? I don't know for certain other than he did have a very bad reaction to the MMR that precludes him ever getting it again. I know when my daughter had her vaccines we spread them out much more. I think there is less a problem with the vaccines themselves than just the fact that they're overwhelming a child's immune system with too much all at once. (look at the vaccine schedules if you doubt it, there are a LOT more now then there were when we were kids, and even more since our parents were.) I know with my daughter we decided, as parents not to take the risk and to make sure they were both thermerisol free and spread out so she never had more then 2 in one day. Whether that had the effect of her not displaying any symptoms of developmental delay I cannot say for certain. Did it hurt anything? Definitely not; she still received all of her vaccinations. I'm one for playing it just a bit safe when things are in doubt, at least when it comes to my children.

      October 9, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
    • PHinMiami

      Didn't mean to imply lack of parental bonding was the the only cause. Clearly, as with many emotional/mental disorders, there are predispositions and subsequent acuity levels.

      October 9, 2010 at 18:20 | Report abuse |
    • Jacksonsmom

      That's ignorant. I held my autistic son probably more than is normal and kissed him and loved on him, but I knew at 2 months something was wrong. No amount of kissing and rocking could prevent him from being autistic. The old school idea of refrigerator moms is simply...stupid.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:03 | Report abuse |
    • Joeymom

      Those studies have been done. the refrigerator mother theory was debunked years ago, and to suggest such a thing is an egregious insult to families of autistic people. Such personal attacks are deeply, deeply hurtful. Not only did I hold and hug my child often, but he loves being hugged and held even now, and I am more than glad to oblige. He loved being in his snugli with his Momma, and I was hardly ever separated from him- I carried him in stores, to museums, to parks, anywhere I went. How dare you even suggest such a thing? You clearly need to meet some families that include autistic people- you clearly don't know any.

      October 10, 2010 at 00:40 | Report abuse |
    • HermanC

      This whole thread reveals the terrible tragedy of the American social-economic system, which will deny anything with medical culpability and lay it off on 'genetics', even though NOT ONE STUDY has shown any link, oh, we'll get there someday, just keep approving those taxpayer research funds, and taxpayer educational psychologist and special education programs, except we can't afford them anymore, now that the Overlords have dumped their $16T in gambling debts onto us, so it's 'inclusion' for the AUT, ADD, OHI and SLDs, right into general population, sitting there with their hands flapping and beating themselves in the face while the other students look on it horror, and the geneticists tell us, wait, give us another ten years of public research funding and we will prove the link that will get the biopharmacists off the hook. MINAMATA DISEASE. Google it. Google it, and ask yourself, with our country bankrupted, and every medical condition dumped into ObamaCare for lifetime treatment on the taxpayer dollar, just what 'general population' is going to be like to try to live in, once biopharmacy has an 'open season' on mandatory vaccination with zero liability, it's written right into the funding legislation!! And wait until al-Gore'ia launches it's Global Carbon Caliphate and National 'Climate' Tithe-Tax after the November election! Understand? There won't BE any funding for AUT, SLD, OHI and ADD, they will be dumping them into general population.

      October 10, 2010 at 02:41 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      This theory is ridiculous and has been found to have absolutely no basis. In the case of my son who had a speech delay and is now suspected (age 3) of having a mild form of autism, I was teased by family members that I spent TOO much time with him and held him TOO often to the point of never wanting to leave him alone. 😉 Crazy theory and I can't even believe that anyone would still believe something so off-the-wall about a disorder that clearly has some genetic component. In my family we have instances of diagnosed ADD and ADHD (myself included) and epilepsy. There is some thought that these disorders (Autism, spectrum disorders, ADD and epilepsy) may all be caused by the same genetic trigger.

      October 10, 2010 at 08:25 | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff

    I just love all the self-righteousness about vaccines here. The vaccines were never the issue, the issue was the mercury containing preservative thimerosal. There were many correlations present. ALL of the initial studies holding it blameless were done or funded by the pharmaceutical companies. Studies done by those with something to lose are usually suspect due to the past history of such studies. An independent study finally confirmed the result.
    The point is now moot as nearly all thimerosal has been removed from vaccines and the autism rate is still increasing.
    STOP behaving as if it wasn't worth looking into. Strong correlations are always worth investigating to see if it is truly causation rather than correlation.

    October 9, 2010 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DocSoup

      Mercury was never the issue either. It is and always has been genetic. The type of mercury that was in vaccines is completely different from the type of mercury that causes acute poisoning and brain damage. It was eliminated from the body within 2 – 3 weeks while the toxic type remains for years. There is more dangerous mercury in large fish than in all of the vaccines we currently use. Large database evaluations of over 450,000 children who received either thimerosal free, or thimerosal containing vaccines showed no correlation with rates of autism. Thimerosal containing vaccines have not been used in the US since 2001, but the perceived rate of autism has gone up, not down. Autism is a genetic developmental disease. It happens, it isn't caused by anything external.

      October 9, 2010 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      That database didn't exist in the late 1990s. Since autism was first diagnosed and thimerosal was put into vaccines, as vaccinations increased, so did autism rates. As shots were combined (MMR, etc), the rate continued to increase. Autism also has the unfortunate characteristic of showing up at the same time vaccinations are given. There were a lot of correlations present but thimerosal has be definitively ruled out. That is great news as it helps to focus on other possible causes. The process of elimination is part of the scientific method. It is extremely unfortunate that there were ever any correlations between vaccinations and autism AND it is inexcusable, even criminal, that a scientist falsified his data and gave credibility to the link.

      October 9, 2010 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      be = been. typo.

      October 9, 2010 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      Actually that database goes far back before the 90"s. The vaccine thing started with a quack who has had his medical privileges revoked in the United Kingdom, Andrew Wakefall. He implicated the MMR while getting paid over $600,000 to say that MMR caused autism in a court case. He falsified his data, and was developing his own measles vaccine which would only have been viable if the MMR was taken off the market. When extensive database evaluations, the Finnish Vaccine Registry, which at the time had over 470,000 children who had and had not been vaccinated with MMR showed no correlation, the vaccine crazies shifted to thimerosal. Evaluations through the same database showed no correlation with autism either. Many smaller studies showed exactly the same thing. As you say, it was very important to look at the possible link, but that was done quickly and accurately with the same results over and over: there is no relationship between vaccines and autism at all. We are wasting time and money. Children are getting preventable diseases. The question was asked, and it has been answered over and over and over again all over the world. There is no relationship at all between vaccines and autism.

      October 9, 2010 at 22:32 | Report abuse |
  12. DocSoup

    FACTS: Early language development, early reading, and other "precocious" skills are often associated with autism spectrum disorders. All well done research points to genetics and not "environmental toxins." There is more mercury in a can of tuna, a tuna steak, or a piece of swordfish than all of the childhood vaccines combined. There is more naturally formaldehyde in my body than in the childhood vaccines. The perceived rate of autism has gone up, not down since thimerasol was removed from vaccines. Most important facts: Vaccines have saved millions of lives. Prior 2001 over 750,000 children around the died from measles infections and complications every year. Now after a massive vaccination program, with a vaccine containing thimerasol, there has been about a 90% reduction in deaths, AND there has been no increase in autism. VACCINES DON"T, CAN"T, NEVER HAVE AND NEVER WILL CAUSE AUTISM! It is genetic. Autism is a very important area for research and we don't need to be wasting money and time with this crazy vaccine fallacy. Quoting the former communications director for Autism Speaks, "The question has been asked, and it has been answered. Vaccines do not cause autism."

    October 9, 2010 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HermanC

      I doubt you could get a six-month old infant to choke down a can of tuna fish. Just sayin'.

      October 10, 2010 at 02:47 | Report abuse |
    • HermanC

      It also wouldn't hurt to point out that the chemical additive high-fructose (corn) syrup was manufactured using a mercury process, and infant formula is laced with HFCS and always has been, more than six times what you find in a can of tuna. Again, thanks to concerns about systemic mercury poisoning beginning at Minamata, then Mid-West Coal (which King Coal
      denied for decades as whole populations were poisoned by lake fish), then thimersoral and finally HFCS, we have most of the mercury eliminated, and where it's not eliminated (see King Coal) people are advised not to eat fish, of course, they do. And Coke and Pepsi claim HFCS doesn't use the mercury process anymore, but who knows if they buy it from the US, or import it in drums from Timbuktu, that's why they relabeled all HFCS products as 'contains sugar and/or HFCS' , which is like a car dealer saying, 'driving a Bentley and/or a Chevy', and yet Americans aren't rioting in the streets at e-onset diabetes. Face it, there is ZERO incentive to provide American clean, pure ANYTHING. Filth is cheaper, and more profitable to treat.

      October 10, 2010 at 02:54 | Report abuse |
  13. Robert J. Krakow

    Question for DocSoup and others:

    If you are certain that genes cause autism please identify a gene that is responsible for and can explain the majority or a significant portion of the various forms of "autism", "ASD" or related disorders. Please cite to the research that supports your claim,. (Many $millions have been spent on such research.) Please show the scientific support for a claim that genes alone are responsible for more than a small percentage of cases of developmental disorder or "autism".

    I am very interested in learning about such research.

    Thank you.

    October 9, 2010 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Justin

      Since you are unable to do your own research for some reason, I decided to help you out. It took less than a minute to find multiple studies. Identical twins studies are the best way to show genetic links.
      Go to pubmed. Search "identical twins autism" or "autism monozygotic concordance". You will find many studies.
      Example: "Monozygotic twins had higher concordance rates than dizygotic twins for autism spectrum disorders", " Pairwise ASD concordance was 31% for DZ and 88% for MZ twins"

      Application of the scientific method (something Jenny Mcarthy is unfamiliar with) has shown a genetic link with autism.
      It's also shown that vaccines and/or thimerosal do not have any link to autism whatsoever.

      Try to keep up with the research yourself next time. It's really easy to do.

      October 9, 2010 at 16:10 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      Easy, search autism and chromosome 15. Search for genetic switches and the cause of autism. As our bodies develop and mature, switches, for lack of a better word, trigger development. The most obvious is puberty. When the switch turns on, we enter puberty. This is different for each individual. There are thousands of switches the control our development. Researchers have identified several of these related to autism. Apparently some kids are born without these switches at all. Others the switch is stuck in the off position. In some, the stuck switch "unsticks" either on its own, or in response to therapy leading to improvement or a "cure." The multitude of switches leads to the great variety in the presentation of ASD's. It is much more complicated than most people can understand. The public loves simple answers, but autism is anything but simple.

      October 9, 2010 at 22:41 | Report abuse |
    • HermanC

      Correct. There is no such research link, only the kind of 'ClimateGate' research guaranteeing more funding to 'find the cause'.

      October 10, 2010 at 02:56 | Report abuse |
  14. Lisa

    @Robert J. Krakow
    I don't know about autism, but I do know about genetic blindness. My son has a form of blindess caused by a defective gene. There are 14 known genes that cause it and several others yet to be discovered, which is the category under which my son falls. Just because they haven't yet identified his gene does not mean it's not genetic. It is always caused be a defective gene. It's not 'sometimes it's caused by a gene and sometimes it's caused by the haircolor I used when I was pregnant'.

    October 9, 2010 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HermanC

      'Just because they haven't yet identified his gene does not mean it's not genetic,' is a circular tautology and therefore is false.
      Just because they haven't discovered UFOs in your underpants, doesn't mean there aren't UFOs in your underpants. Capiche?

      October 10, 2010 at 02:58 | Report abuse |
  15. dave

    i have two nephews from my sister. one is autistic; the other is not. the non-autistic nephew has no speech problems at all and is at the top of his class. at least personally, i haven't seen any evidence for this article.

    October 9, 2010 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Lisa

    @Dave, the article did not say anywhere that 100% of siblings have this characteristic.

    October 9, 2010 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Robert J. Krakow

    @Lisa regarding "Just because they haven't yet identified his gene does not mean it's not genetic."

    You have turned the proposition upside down. Some individuals, including a few on this blog thread, are making big claims that "autism is genetic" as if the issue is settled. I am asking for support for that idea. So far I have seen little. I have reviewed the scientific literature and only a very small percentage of cases of autism have been documented to be even correlated with a gene, much less shown to be "caused" by a gene.

    Sibling studies such as the one reported beg the question because they fail to control for other exposures, such as toxic exposures. In addition, it is unlikely that chronic disorders are completely unrelated to genes, because genes are involved in every biological and metabolic process. The question is whether genes are “causing” the gene process or whether other factors are acting upon one’s genetic makeup via epigenetics or by causing mutations, or by affecting the expression of certain metabolic processes that result in a disease process.

    Even if specific genes have been correlated with autism the mechanism by which the genes cause autism has been inadequately described. More often than not the genes that are identified involve metabolic pathways that are know to be affected by environmental toxins. Genes that have been associated with autism are implicated in all studies in perhaps 1% of autism cases. Other genes associated with autism, such as the MET gene polymorphism, is found in as much as 50% of the population, and the researchers themselves have opined that the gene interacts in some individuals with other facts, environmental factors, to cause autism.

    The researchers who found copy number variations ("CNV"'s) in genes in their study of individuals with autism diagnoses as compared with “normal” individuals, could only attribute a small increase of such CNV's in individuals with autism. In those cases the CNV's were spontaneous and were not inherited. In those cases, moreover, the researchers were unable to describe the mechanism by which the genetic change caused autism, and could not even confirm that the CNV had anything to do with autism, just that individuals with autism had higher numbers of CNV's. This finding, moreover, was barely statistically significant and could have been the result of chance.

    All this adds up something far short of showing "genes cause autism." For those making such claims I would like to understand the basis for what they are saying.

    I certainly agree with your statement that "Just because they haven't yet identified his gene does not mean it's not genetic." But your statement is hardly scientific – it is just a speculative negatively posed statement. Those claiming, "genes cause autism" claim scientific support. Where is the scientific support? Identify the genes that cause autism.

    In the alternative I suggest that those making extravagant claims that "genes cause autism" are just as unscientific in their opinions as those they criticize.

    October 9, 2010 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Justin

      Good response. However you're extrapolating a bit much from the responses here. Saying "there is a genetic link to autism" is scientifically valid and supported as a quick pubmed search shows; saying "genes cause autism" is definitely unsupported at this point as you point out. The gold standard for establishing genetic links is in identical twins raised separately studies, as that controls for "toxins"/environmental/psychosocial variables. And, these studies DO show concordance between MZ twins raised separately and autism spectrum disorders. Also if "toxins"/environmental variables were the only factor, then MZ and DZ twins raised together would show the same rates of autism - and they don't.

      Now, the extent to which that actually matters is up for debate. I've heard that about 10% of cases of autism show genetic links (1st degree relatives with autism for example). The other 90% there's no family history that people are aware of.

      So it's definitely more complicated than "genes cause autism". But I do think it's ok to say "there is some genetic link to autism but the extent has yet to be determined." Which as you point out is almost irrelevant as everything is connected to the expression of our genes.

      The thing that irks me more is those claiming that vaccines/mercury cause autism. THAT one really has been ruled out by science.

      October 9, 2010 at 18:32 | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      I just grabbed my old psychiatric care textbook. Under autism: "Recent research has revealed strong evidence that genetic factors may play a significant role in the etiology of autism (Ansreasen & Black, 2006). Studies have shown that parents who have one child with autism are at increased risk of having more than one child with autism. Other studies with both monozygotic and dizygotic twins also have provided evidence a genetic involvement."

      October 9, 2010 at 19:10 | Report abuse |
  18. P Ellen K

    Bill Rubin_ your point is well taken.

    I found the following book very informative on that topic .
    How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman

    October 9, 2010 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Jeff

    You never saw an adult just come down with Autism, it is always children who as they are developing got mercury poison,
    There were adults that got autism many years ago, they called them "mad hattesr" because they got severe brain damage from working in a factory that used mercury to make ribbons in hats in the early 1900's, those adults all had the same symptoms as the children effected

    Look at the U.S. government they cover everything up for big business, just look recently how it is coming out they covered up for B.P. on the amount of oil they new was leaking. The F.D.A. and C.D.C. are a very very very sad joke. Use your own brain, greed is everywhere in the U.S.

    October 9, 2010 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me

      Ummm... you don't "come down" with autism. It isn't an illness that you catch. It is a genetic disease that is determined before birth; thus the reason adults don't "get" it.

      October 9, 2010 at 19:31 | Report abuse |
    • Christine

      I am a behavioral therapist for autistic children. You cannot be an adult diagnosed with autism because in order to get a diagnosis of autism, the symptoms must display themselves by age 2 and the child needs to be diagnosed by age 3 to have a true diagnosis of autism.

      October 9, 2010 at 19:39 | Report abuse |
    • FloridaSNMom

      The symptoms (at least some of them, developmental delays can be tricky with some catching up and others falling behind) have to present by age 2, but there is no ceiling for diagnosis that I'm aware of, either as a parent of an autistic child or an OTA. In fact, MANY autistic children are not diagnosed until school age because the pediatricians are reluctant to 'label' the child (which is necessary in most cases to get appropriate treatment)or to listen to the parents concerns. My own son's diagnosis wasn't finalized until age 6 and it wasn't until head start (at age 4) supported my claims that the Doctors even started taking me seriously.

      Before that they wanted to list him as ADHD, OCD, ODD, and Bipolar (never mind he only ever had 'manic' episodes.. i.e. meltdowns with no signs of depression between) . Best thing I've ever done for my son is start Sensory Integration Therapy, most of his meltdowns disappeared, his language improved, and he's learned how to manage his disability instead of just treating his symptoms. He's starting to recognize things that are overwhelming him and avoiding them, or finding ways to limit his exposure.

      October 9, 2010 at 22:41 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      Mad Hatters. A completely different kind of mercury. That is the same kind as the mercury that you eat in fish. Autism has always been around. We just called it something different: socially awkward, odd, or in severe cases, autism. I can easily think of many adults who fit the autism spectrum disorder description. Two are doctors, several are computer programmers, and one works with children. Years ago, the diagnosis didn't exist, but if you look carefully, you will see about 1 in 100 adults fit the description, and most are male. There is no real epidemic caused by vaccines or anything else.

      October 9, 2010 at 22:49 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      FlaMom, I'm sorry it took so long for your pediatrician to listen. While we are often reluctant to "label" a child, we should still listen, and get a full developmental whenever a parent has a concern. I was taught that parental concerns about development are the biggest red flag, and to never ignore these concerns. I have sent many children for evaluations that I thought were developing normally only to have the experts tell me otherwise. I've also sent others who I felt had a problem that didn't. The thing is, and if any docs are reading, listen to your parents. Primary care physicians are not trained to diagnose autism, but we are trained to listen to people and screen our patients. If you have concerns, get the child evaluated early because early therapy can change lives. FlaMom, I am a complete believer in sensory integration therapy and other intense treatments for children with autism. Now if we can only get the insurance companies to listen.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:18 | Report abuse |
    • FloridaSNMom

      DocSoup, thank you for your reply. I'm on several support groups online for parents of autistic children, and this is, unfortunately a common issue; the late diagnosis due to pediatricians not listening to the parents. I have several friends right now who are going through this issue, one of whom was a roommate and helped care for my son when he was 4-8 years old, now her daughter is showing symptoms, ones she's seeing as scarily similar to ones she experienced when my son was her daughter's age. She has already been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and ADHD but the pediatrician doesn't want to send her for a developmental eval. Her own sister has Aspergers, and she's still having trouble getting a diagnosis. I told her to seek a second opinion, but not sure how easy that is in Texas through medicaid.

      My advice to the parents is, follow your instinct. You know your child better than anyone else, you spend the most time with them. If you think there is something wrong find out. If the Doctor advises you to wait six months, that may be fine the *first* time, but don't let them keep putting you off.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:59 | Report abuse |
    • Joeymom

      I know a great many adults who are autistic. Not long ago, severely affected people were often labeled mentally retarded and institutionalized- those people would now be adults. In fact, this is still happening (I am working with a family just getting the diagnosis, and the child is 10- because of his communication disorder, the school and doctors assumed he was mentally retarded and emotionally disturbed instead of autistic). Six years ago, when we were first finding out about my son and talking with our friends, we were concerned that the rate of adults we knew seemed to be higher than what was being "advertised" as the rate of autism in children (1 in 166), and we were thinking why this might be; but the new numbers are more in line with our experience of adults, which is around 1:95.

      October 10, 2010 at 00:24 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      FlaMom, I don't know Texas, but I know North Carolina. We have a system run by the state that provides developmental evaluations by trained specialists for anyone under 3 who is referred. The referrals can come from doctors or through the department of social services. Most medical universities have a developmental pediatrics specialist. If her doc won't give her a referral to a specialist, maybe she could try social services or a local support group who can point her in the right direction. Also, if the doc won't give her a referral for a second opinion, find a new doc. After 3 years of age, by federal law, all therapy is supposed to come through the school system. If your friend's daughter is over 3, she could try through the schools. You are also right to say it's OK to wait sometimes. Early on, when there really isn't any therapy available, waiting is appropriate, but by the time a child reaches 18 – 24 months, it is imperative to treat this seriously. Early and intensive therapy can make a big difference. If your doctor says, "Oh he's just a late talker," or "Einstein didn't talk until he was 5," or "She's just real shy," run and find a new doc. Late talking, or late or unusual social development is always a red flag.

      October 10, 2010 at 01:06 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      JoeyMom, thanks for your comments. This is not an increasing epidemic, it is a condition that is just being diagnosed earlier, and differently with a broader definition than in the past. One of my partners, who now would have likely been labeled ASD as a child, who is brilliant, and I were talking about this just the other day. I know that at least 1:100 adults that I know have ASD characteristics, and a functioning and contributing to society just like any of the rest of us. Several of the adults that I know have children with ASD. My partner has a nephew with Aspergers. Autism is a condition with many faces, and not all are severe non-verbal or Rain Man like cases. Many are just people like us. They may be socially awkward or just a little odd, but aren't we all sometimes?

      October 10, 2010 at 01:14 | Report abuse |
    • HermanC

      MINAMATA DISEASE, ladies and gentlemen. Passed from the mother to the fetus from mercury poisoning.
      'Rarediseases.about.com/od/rarediseases1/a/102304.htm' The response then was the same as it is now.
      DENIAL, AND SCAPEGOATING. There is (was until recently) six times more mercury in a can of soda pop
      than in a can of tuna fish, and how many pregnant mothers live for the next can of cold soda pop relief?
      High fructose (corn) syrup is a SYNTHETIC INDUSTRIAL CHEMICAL made (was) using a mercury process.
      They claim US doesn't manufacture it that way, but much of our soda pop comes from south of the border,
      and HFCS is traded in drums from manufacturers all around the world who still use that mercury process
      That's why every canned item says, 'contains sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup'. Plausible deniability.

      October 10, 2010 at 03:05 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      Herm: I remembered the name Minamata from medical school, but I just went back and read about it. In the 1950's in Minamata, Japan, cats started acting crazy and jumping into the sea. The people started developing strange symptoms that included brain damage in the severe cases. This was due to industrial dumping of mercury, METHYLMERCURY. Infants born to mothers who had been poisoned had many problems including brain damage. Methylmercury stays in our bodies for a long time and can cross into the brain causing damage. Symptoms caused by this poisoning are not the same as the symptoms associated with autism. The mercury that was in vaccines was ETHYLMERCURY. Ethylmercury is easily eliminated by the body and it CANNOT cross into the brain. Ethylmercury can't get to the brain, therefore t can't damage the brain. OBTW, corn syrup is made like maple syrup, not with mercury. Also, did you know that ounce for ounce, Gerber's baby apple juice has more sugar than Coke

      October 10, 2010 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
  20. Jeff

    They are writing more and more articles like this everyday, and pay big to get them published, they are scared to death of the real truth coming out.

    It is the bad Karma that is killing this country, just tell the truth and set everyone free, on this subject, If you could have 100 test babies and you gave them high doses of mercury they all would come out autistic, but you can not do that and they know it,

    October 9, 2010 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DocSoup


      October 9, 2010 at 23:34 | Report abuse |
    • Joeymom

      Autism and mercury poisoning are two entirely different conditions, with very different symptoms. Even the symptoms that appear to overlap in lists you find on the internet (such as "speech/language difficulties" and motor irregularities) actually present very differently. Ask your physician or a specialist in mercury poisoning about the differences.

      October 10, 2010 at 00:30 | Report abuse |
  21. RuFngKdngMe?

    You cannot win an argument when someone believes something is true. The fundamental description of belief is accepting something as true regardless and in spite of facts. Everyone arguing that mercury and/or vaccines has their head buried where the sun doesn't shine. They believe it's true and no one and nothing is ever going to tell them differently. It's as stupid as religion. Who cares anyway. The rest of us are vaccinated. They will only cause problems in their descendants, eventually eliminating this particular variant of idiocy from the gene pool. I just wish it were as simple a solution with religion. Now there is something that one unfortunately cannot inoculate oneself from in the same physical manner. 🙁

    October 9, 2010 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Kim

    Interesting article. My eleven year old son has Aspergers and my six year old daughter could out talk even Rosie Odonnell. My son is also extremely socially awkward whereas daughter is a social busy bee. They are day and night opposites.

    October 9, 2010 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Mike

    I have a twin of an autistic child in my classroom this year. His twin has multiple symptoms, but I am not familiar with the specifics because he is in a different class (same grade, inclusion classroom). The boy in my class displays autistic tendencies, some delayed speech in the form of stuttering or repeating some beginning sounds/blends. He is also very particular about class schedules, directions and order. He also displays very specific knowledge on certain topics (such as science), I have been conflicted about whether it was due to his brothers interests that he has this knowledge or if its his own separate interest. Since the boys are twins, I was not surprised to see him display autistic traits, but again, do not know if this is his own characteristics or ones he has learned from his twin.

    October 9, 2010 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Jeff

    RuFngKdngMe? I guess those included with their heads up their butt include, John F Kennedy Jr, he wrote all about it in hs artical in Rolling Stone call "Deadly Immunity". His father was president and was murdered in Texas, He saluted his father at the funeral.

    He was as close to the government as you could be, and called them on it, just as he was about to come out with the rest of the evidence he mysterously died. "Justice for all" is part of the pledge of allegence., to bad our government does not stand by that pledge.

    October 9, 2010 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Justin

      WTH are you talking about. Any credibility you had has just been eliminated by this bizarre response. Let's keep it to science here, m'k?

      October 9, 2010 at 18:35 | Report abuse |
    • Maurine meleck

      Get with the program, Jeff. Your history is a little off. The article was written by Robert Kennedy's son Robert kennedy, Jr.
      John Kennedy Jr. was killed years earlier when he crashed his small plane into the ocean. Robert kennedy was killed in 1968 while campaigning for a run for president in California. A little hisotry lesson never hurts.

      October 9, 2010 at 19:28 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      You really trust a Kennedy? Wow

      October 9, 2010 at 23:36 | Report abuse |
  25. meldy

    My question would be, if you have one child that has autism, why get pregnant again? Same thing with Down's syndrome, etc.
    Not trying to be mean

    October 9, 2010 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me

      Yeah, that's mean. Get this... many people actually VALUE the lives of their children despite abnormalities. Who'da thought?
      I have friend who comes from a large family. Two of her siblings have autism and the rest are Mensans. I don't see anything to be ashamed of there. Just because you are too ignorant to understand or value an autistic person doesn't mean everyone is.

      October 9, 2010 at 19:29 | Report abuse |
    • ew

      The symptoms of autism show up around 18-24 months. Many people have other children before these symptoms appear in older children. And yes- that is an insensitive question, but hopefully understanding the timing will help answer your question

      October 9, 2010 at 19:35 | Report abuse |
    • Jacksonsmom

      Please, if you're hateful, why have children? If you are fat and you believe it's because you have big bones, why have a child who might have "big bones." If diabetes runs in your family, why have a child, because he or she might have diabetes? If you suffer from seasonal allergies, why have a child, who might suffer from seasonal allergies?

      October 9, 2010 at 22:51 | Report abuse |
    • angie

      I don't believe this study to be true......and having other children that do not have austism can bring more normalcy to a family. I am the oldest, my younger brother is severly autistic, and I have another younger brother and sister. I am thankful that my parents had two other children after my autistic brother. As much as I love him, there are some things that I am glad to be able to share with my other siblings.

      October 9, 2010 at 22:56 | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Um, maybe because my kid that is on the autism spectrum is a freaking genius and probably smarter than any kid you could ever have.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:59 | Report abuse |
    • Joeymom

      Wow, the road to inferno is paved with good intentions... because that comment is definitely mean. It belittles and devalues people with disabilities, their families, and their communities. In case you didn't know, people with autism are PEOPLE, and have many strengths and talents to offer your world. Helping them develop and share those talents may take understanding and appropriate support, but it is definitely worthwhile.

      On top of that, autism is still not commonly diagnosed until a child is 2 or 3 (and I am working with a parent right now who is just getting the child diagnosed, and the child is 10!). It only takes about 6 weeks to get pregnant again.

      October 10, 2010 at 00:19 | Report abuse |
  26. Christine

    I am a behavioral therapist with autistic children. I have worked with 12 different children that are all on different areas of the spectrum. From what I have seen in my years as a therapist, it would appear that autism does have genetic aspects. The parents tend to display some traits of autism (lack of eye contact, lack of social skills, poor appropriate communication) that their children do. With that being said, not all families I have worked with show obvious similarities between one or both parents and their autistic children. I still believe that autism is genetic, HOWEVER, there have been studies that show in the state of Washington that children that are born on rainy days have a higher rate of being diagnosed with autism and children in suburbs/cities have a higher rate of autism.

    Also, the population with the highest rate of autism is the Somali population. How do you explain autism being genetic when there is no recorded cases of autism in Somalia but the kids are diagnosed with it here? It doesn't make a difference whether or not the child was born in Somalia or the US, they still have a higher rate.

    Perhaps technology is the problem but vaccines are not the problem. There was an article on CNN in the last few months stating that scientists have proven that there is NOT a correlation between vaccines and autism. All of the families I have worked with have stated that vaccines are not the problem and they never noticed a correlation with the symptoms of autism displaying themselves and when the child received vaccines. Also, I have clients that I work with that are autistic and are NOT vaccinated. How do you explain that?

    October 9, 2010 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joeymom

      I explain it with the word "recorded." What is the state of record-keeping in Somalia? Ten years ago, in THIS country, my autistic child would have been labeled mentally retarded, not autistic, because of his communication issues. The stigma of mental retardation all over the world means that children given that label are often denied appropriate education and supports, are often neglected, institutionalized, and ignored. I would suggest that it is not that there are no cases of autism in Somalia, but that the cases that exist are not officially recorded, due to misdiagnosis and stigma.

      October 10, 2010 at 00:15 | Report abuse |
    • afw

      Somalia isn't exactly crawling with highly-qualified pediatricians, and the ones who are there are probably more concerned with saving babies from diarrhea and making sure kids get adequate nutrition and tetanus shots than diagnosing autism.

      October 10, 2010 at 01:03 | Report abuse |
  27. Jaimee

    I have four children. One has Asperger's. All of them have bits and pieces of signs of a couple of autistic traits. My Oldest daughter is an honor student and social butterfly. My second daughter is the one with Asperger's and is also highly intelligent even if her organizational skills keep her from succeeding in all of her classes. She showed signs of problems the day she was born. My third daughter is a lot like her oldest sister. My son is much like the two without Asperger's. My aunt has Asperger's as does my husband. His family members also show the occasional trait. It is totally possible for one child to have a form of autism and the others to only have the occasional trait. In our family it is totally genetic and the article does have some merit. As for vaccinations I personally don't think they caused any of my family's syndromes however I still will not let my children get more than three or four vaccines at a time. It is time for all of the arguing to stop and just love these very special children.

    October 9, 2010 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jaimee

      Just thought I should add that my non autistic children's autistic traits are not in language but in other areas but anything is possible I believe.

      October 10, 2010 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
  28. Rita

    Perhaps so much time is spent with the autistic child on treatment and behavioral/social issues, that the other siblings don't get nearly the attention they should.

    October 9, 2010 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • angie

      Interesting thought! I grew up with a younger brother with austism and he required so much more attention than the other 3 of us put together.

      October 9, 2010 at 22:48 | Report abuse |
  29. Jay

    This story is not true, as I have facts to the otherwise.

    October 9, 2010 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • afw

      Super helpful comment. Thanks.

      October 10, 2010 at 01:04 | Report abuse |
  30. Can'tbelievetheidiocy

    As a mother of two boys, neither of which have autism, but have both been vaccinated, AND has a VERY close friend with two children with developmental delays, the youngest a boy who is autistic and the oldest a girl who didn't speek a word until almost 4, and now is 9 and has social delays. My children and her children were all raised in the same town, all vaccinated, all loved for and cared for, and had the same amounts of involvement in their day to day activities. Most people never think about the fact that the reason there are more children diagnosed some where on the spectrum now than in years passed, is because more is known about HOW to diagnose the disoreder. It is a disorder. Not a disease. You can't "catch" it environmentally or through application! If that were true ALL children in a household or their parents too for that matter would have it! And all those implicating vaccinations what about all the seemingly and thought of as "normal" children that have been vaccinated? Why don't they have autism? My friend's son was BORN this way. It didn't "develop"overtime. At 1 month old he was showing signs, no eye contact, not wanting to be held, ect. And her daughter didn't LEARN her behaviors from her younger brother. He wasn't even born yet. There are no signs of autism in any of her or her ex-husband's families. But for anyone who has any knowledge of genetics, and I am by no means an expert, knows that you can be a carrier of a trait and not have it. But you put two carriers together and the likelihood of the trait presenting itself is higher. To say definatively what does or does not cause the disorder is impossible at this time. That is why studies like this one are performed. To gather more information, so that as time and science advances, we may be able to find the cause!

    October 9, 2010 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Chris

    Yes, parents in denial, its time to admit it has a genetic component. You don't have to feel bad. it's not your fault. Just stop blaming vaccinations. the only study that showed it was flawed, depublished and the doctor lost his license. NO ONE from the scientific community has validated it at all. STOP THE NONSENSE. My best friend who is a special education attorney (whom I worked for for a couple of years) is still in denial. His kid has had only 9 vaccinations in 18 months. As a result, he won't take her anywhere, not even flying to Grandma's for Thanksgiving. NOT SEEING GRANDMA FOR THANKSGIVING BECAUSE OF YOUR DELUSIONS IS SOMETHING THAT ADVERSELY AFFECTS YOUR CHILD'S DEVELOPMENT, NOT VACCINATIONS!

    October 9, 2010 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Cam

    I thought autism means smart and intelligent... I did not talk or say anything by the age of 5 but when I started speaking at 6, I was able to translate 3 languages which I was exposed to during those days. I became the family interpreter. I finished high school by the age of 14 and got my bachelor's degree at 17, masters by 19 and PhD by 22 years. I thought autism means smart and intelligent... not sure why people are talking of delay... a child who is not talking by 4 but writing words, solving mathematical questions and we are still speaking of delay.. probably Einstein was autistic too... think about it.

    October 9, 2010 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SO CA Native

      Uhm...maybe you're not autistic! Are you kidding me...its a spectrum disorder...with hi's & low's...there are alot of not so smart autistic kids running around out there...

      October 10, 2010 at 00:43 | Report abuse |
    • Helen

      If you 'got' your PhD at 22 years of age, I'm very surprised that you interpreted the word autism as "smart and intelligent". Certainly you would have read about this syndrome somewhere along the way in your studies, no?

      Some children are selective mutes who will speak to their family but not to those outside the family. And, it does not necessarily mean that they have ASD.

      October 10, 2010 at 10:41 | Report abuse |
    • Cam

      This is a response to Helen above...
      Many people and some medical professionals like to identify speech delay as autism.... I was told I had autism because I do not like to socialize with most kids when I was younger... also not speaking too early became the final call that it is autism... that kept my parents wondering and really harmed them as they were surprised what was wrong with me. Children mature at their own rates rather than at a prescribed diagram/chart who may have interpreted research data in the way that fits his/her objective...

      October 10, 2010 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
  33. dora

    I have three kids, the eldest is with autism, the other two (younger) have never had any language or other delays.
    Do another research!

    October 9, 2010 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • angie

      I agree......in my family of 4 children, one of my younger brothers is severely autistic and the rest of us have had no problems.

      October 9, 2010 at 22:36 | Report abuse |
  34. YHW

    Yup, definitely experienced this is our family: older child is PDD-NOS and had profound speech delay when she was younger; and younger, non-autistic child had moderate speech delay and mild social skills issues that he grew out of before kindergarten. The flip side of these delays though, has been some amazing strengths in visual-spatial skills and memory. Oldest has hyperlexia (spontaneous reading at an early age and near perfect memory), and youngest has strong memory with reading and learning to read music.

    On the issue of vaccines and autism: there is as much evidence proving that vaccines cause autism as there is proving that witchcraft causes autism. Either you believe in the scientific method, or you don't. Genetics in this case: engineers, physicists, speech delay, and bipolar disorder all in the family tree.

    October 9, 2010 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. angie

    I find this study hard to believe. My brother is severely austic and my brother, sister, and I experienced no language delays and were all above average and/or gifted. My personal belief is that today children with simple behavior problems are often classified as "mildly autistic"....which would make sense that multiple children from the same family would have similar "symptoms."

    October 9, 2010 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joeymom

      angle, why would having a language delay- or being autistic- preclude someone from being gifted or "above average"? My autistic child is about to skip two grades in math, and is in the top reading group for his grade. His younger brother, who exhibits significant speech delay, is also top in his classroom in academic subjects. Children who have even "mild" autism do not display "simple" discipline problems. They use behavior to communicate, just as you might do. Take a week and pretend you cannot speak, point, or gesture. See how you feel by the end of it. Most autistic children know what they want to say or communicate, but have neurological issues such as apraxia and dyspraxia which prevent it. Now, for the next week, you are allowed, say, 25 words- and let a computer select them at random from the entire English language- but we'll add the sensory piece to the condition. Ever missed a step going down stairs, or thought there was one more step and there wasn't? Imagine having to deal with that with every single step you take (vestibular issues). Oh, and no matter where you try to reach to pick something up or touch something, you find your hand about two inches from where you thought you were aiming for (propioceptive issues). Most schools use florescent lighting. My child can hear and see the flicker of an old bulb months before anyone else can. Could you work all day under a strobe light with a buzzing sound constantly in your ear? My child has to learn that way.

      And this is just a brief taste of the problems faced by autistic people- a little glimpse. You might get a headache and tantrum, too.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:56 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Actually, some studies are showing that giftedness and ADHD can mimic some of the symptoms of mild autism and may also be part of the same genetic soup that causes autism. I have inattentive-type ADD and was labeled "gifted" as a student. My son is also very, very intelligent but has some behavioral issues that lead us to believe he may have inherited my ADD. The difference is that he had a speech delay which I did not and is exhibiting some symptoms of social communication problems. My father has ADD and my sister has epilepsy and there is some thought that the same gene mutations may have the ability to cause all of these things in varying degrees of severity.

      October 10, 2010 at 08:57 | Report abuse |
    • Helen

      Joeymom, you nailed it! I teach my students ASL to communicate and use the PEC system to organize their day. It works extremely well and they are calmer and happier and quite proud when they 'get' it.

      It is extremely difficult to explain to the masses just exactly why an ASD child would become disruptive but you've given a good example. Throwing them into a behavior disorder category is wholly unfair to the child!

      October 10, 2010 at 10:49 | Report abuse |
  36. Jacksonsmom

    I find this story to be psycho babble. I have a 4-year-old autistic son who has severe language delays and who tantrums much of the day. His little sister exhibits some of the characteristics because she COPIES him. She has learned from his behaviors. She screams when he screams and it's all because big brother is doing it...you can tell by her actions that she is copying what she has learned by watching him. Her language is much more advanced, but she watches him closely. I don't believe in any way that she has mild autistic behavior. I'm not disputing that other children in a family can exhibit autistic behavior, but come on, can't we just look at this through common sense glasses – that kids learn from their older siblings behaviors and not everything is pathology?

    October 9, 2010 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joeymom

      angle, why would having a language delay- or being autistic- preclude someone from being gifted or "above average"? My autistic child is about to skip two grades in math, and is in the top reading group for his grade. His younger brother, who exhibits significant speech delay, is also top in his classroom in academic subjects. Children who have even "mild" autism do not display "simple" discipline problems. They use behavior to communicate, just as you might do. Take a week and pretend you cannot speak, point, or gesture. See how you feel by the end of it. Most autistic children know what they want to say or communicate, but have neurological issues such as apraxia and dyspraxia which prevent it. Now, for the next week, you are allowed, say, 25 words- and let a computer select them at random from the entire English language- but we'll add the sensory piece to the condition. Ever missed a step going down stairs, or thought there was one more step and there wasn't? Imagine having to deal with that with every single step you take (vestibular issues). Oh, and no matter where you try to reach to pick something up or touch something, you find your hand about two inches from where you thought you were aiming for (propioceptive issues). Most schools use florescent lighting. My child can hear and see the flicker of an old bulb months before anyone else can. Could you work all day under a strobe light with a buzzing sound constantly in your ear? My child has to learn that way.

      And this is just a brief taste of the problems faced by autistic people- a little glimpse. You might get a headache and tantrum, too.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:55 | Report abuse |
    • Bryan, Pharm.D.

      You also have a n=1.

      Meaning you are observing the effect of your child, and translating how your ONE non-autistic child is behaving and assuming that what you observe in your ONE child must be the same in ALL children.

      That's why we do studies in science. What happens to one may be complete chance, an isolated incident, or evidence of a trend. We don't know, because the snapshot of observing one event, one your one child, does nothing to tell us the frequency or chance of an event happening.

      Without question your experience with your autistic child has impacted your life, and affected your perceptions. You've learned many things about autism. But again, you have limited experience compared to the authors of this study, who observed the behavior of 3000 children. Until you have had 3000 children, do not make interpretations based on your extremely limited experience.

      October 10, 2010 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
  37. Christine

    Though I work with autistic children, I do tend to believe that "autism" is the buzz word of the day. About ten years ago, everyone was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Following that, they were all diagnosed with bipolar-manic depressive. It's just the thing that everyone "has" right now.

    October 9, 2010 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill


      You should not be working with children with autism. Three of my four children have autism and what happens in school is one year they have a great teacher who that makes a big difference in their lives and the next year they will have someone like you. The effect is the child looses what they have gained. Last year my son had a great teacher. She was able to get him to do things we had never seen before. But as these things work out she left and her replacement was the opposite. She did not care what worked and what didn't work with the other teacher and what do you know? Zero cooperation from him. With an attitude like yours, you do more harm than good.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:26 | Report abuse |
    • Joeymom

      I agree with Bill. Your comment suggests you do not understand what autism is, or how to interact with and support children who are autistic. Either get informed and trained, or change careers.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:39 | Report abuse |
  38. c. j.

    One thing hardly mentioned anymore is the fact these children have a lot of allergies. The ones with just speech problems, and the ones autistic should be discovered as to why these children are so sensitive. Bring these studies out, and see if there is any hype to it.

    October 9, 2010 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joeymom

      Um, my autistic child does not have allergies to anything. The likely reason children on the spectrum may have sensitivities is because it is a pervasive neurological condition, and thus will effect how the body reacts. This is also why you hear about autistic children having gastrointestinal issues- you have nerves throughout your body, and when the neurological system is pervasively effected, that means everything is fair game for being effected and not working the way non-ASD people expect.

      October 9, 2010 at 23:37 | Report abuse |
  39. dxp2718

    Does it hold for older siblings as well as younger ones? That is, if your kid has speech delays, future children are more likely to be at risk for autism? If it is just younger siblings, then it points to some sort of interaction with the autistic older sibling (who perhaps has trouble communicating verbally so his siblings get less verbal reinforcement, both from parents used to interacting with the autistic kid and from the autistic kid himself). If it is both older and younger kids, then it could be genetic or environmental.

    October 9, 2010 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. MedStudent

    apparently, most people do not understand how to interpret data, nor do they understand that anecdotal evidence is worthless for all intensive purposes.

    This article is describing valuable data in determining the real cause of autism, which is what most intelligent people suspected all along – genetics and/or fetal development.

    there is evidence of both genetic contributions and a possible auto-immune response involved in autism.

    Also, anyone who even mentions vaccines anymore has lost all credibility in their opinion since there are no articles even suggesting a link anymore since the last few were all shown to either be fraudulent or statistically insignificant (or invalid).

    October 10, 2010 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joeymom

      Hon, the phrase is "for all intents and purposes."

      October 10, 2010 at 00:53 | Report abuse |
  41. Dr freeman

    I do not see the genetic link here, because pediatricians that saw children early in their careers in the sixties, seventies, eighties, said they never saw such a huge change in the amount of children with developmental disorders coming into there office, as when the U.S. decided to go off the old vaccine schedule used for decades and is still is used in many other countries.

    The countries that stayed with the old vaccine schedule did not see any increase in autism, they forgot with the increased amount of vaccines that there would be an increase in the amount of Mercury that is used to save the companies money so they don't have to manufacture individual shots and can put it in a mufti dose container, if you know anything about Mercury it does not like to mix with anything, and separates to the top, which if it was no shaken before the injection some infant could end up with a massive dose of Mercury.

    These must be magic genes, because the U.S. in the biggest melting pot in the world, and you are telling me that while we were putting people on the moon we were just ignoring all the cases of Autism. Teachers never said anything, Parents were not concerned, but retardation was understood. Funny

    To explain about the cover up, they created a spectrum, now you can diagnose any child as autistic, which is not fair to the children really damage by this error, 90 percent of the kids on the spectrum will grow up normal get married and be able to hold jobs and take care of them selves.

    If you want to believe in magic genes fine with me, but I have seen no proof, are these the same genes that make you go bald at a certain age, strange how autism is something they say you are born with but does not come on over time. only just as you are getting those shots.

    It makes no difference to me, if you can say you trust big business to tell the truth, then I have been mistaken. Sorry, Billion dollar mistakes are so easy to admit too.

    Did you ever see a company volunteering to put themselves out of business or take huge losses when it can be avoided.

    This article says nothing, it has no evidence of anything, they can never say they solved it! , they blame it on genes, which gene, which race of people. Please show me your proof it is in the genes.

    The same logic goes if you get shot, it was not the gun that killed you, you must of died from lead poisoning. It is in you genes you are alergic to lead. sorry.

    No doctor would buck the system, they would be disbarred, but they talk amonst themselves and they know what really happened.

    October 10, 2010 at 00:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SO CA Native

      Sorry but you make no sense!

      October 10, 2010 at 00:35 | Report abuse |
    • afw

      You are not a doctor. Doctors are not disbarred, lawyers are. You have no idea what you are talking about.

      October 10, 2010 at 01:07 | Report abuse |
    • Helen

      Drfreeman, you are a fraud.

      October 10, 2010 at 10:53 | Report abuse |
  42. Special Education Teacher.

    As a special education teacher, this "news" is not novel by any sense. Children with autism have been known to have language delays for quite a long time; it is one of the first clues in diagnosing this spectrum disorder. Moreover, these speech delays are only a small hint in the diagnosis. A clear hint of autism is language regression: a condition in which a child loses all forms of verbal communication. Thus, a child with a speech or language impairment is only a small facet in diagnosing autism.

    October 10, 2010 at 00:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen

      Yet in milder forms of autism, language can develop slowly and stay at age-appropriate levels while social communication (eye contact, engaging in conversation, recognizing nuances of speech in others etc) can still be an issue. I'm surprised that this article focused apparently on speech only without also highlighting the importance of social communication as a whole.

      October 10, 2010 at 08:52 | Report abuse |
  43. SO CA Native

    Autism is genetic...its' been proven by the retraction of the "landmark" study...I'm sorry people, but it's just the luck of the draw...Autism never goes away...it's only managed...funny how people dont mind stating that they have an Autistic child but no one ever wants to say the "R" word...many times you cant tell one from the other...lets all forget the Jenny's of the world...there is NO CURE!!!

    October 10, 2010 at 00:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cam

      You are either sick or mentally challenged! Any autistic child will do better than your brain dead thinking...

      October 10, 2010 at 00:49 | Report abuse |
    • Wildwood

      I am a speech pathologist that has been working for many years. My caseload now is full of "kids on the spectrum". I used to think it was hopeless until I actually began working with so many in this population. Now I couldn't disagree more. There are certainly all ranges of the disability, but these kids can make very significant gains. Some will go on to school and college and may be a little quirky...like many of us now adults. It takes a lot of work and persistence. It takes believing it will work and it takes a kid with good intelligence to break through. Sure some kids have so many disabling factors that improvements are minimal. My belief now is that that number is small compared to the number who make great gains. Start early and be persistent. When the language barrier is broken down, many of the negative frustrated behaviors decrease. Starfall.com helps many of these kids who are hyper-lexic learn the language through reading. They get addicted to it in a good way. Anything that works. Good luck and keep believing.

      October 10, 2010 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
  44. Aimee

    @thor Thank you. People really need to face the fact that autism is due to genetics. The sooner people realize this, the sooner we can move forward and help our children more. It is no ones fault that a child has autism. @SO CA Native Thank you. I am so sick and tired of Jenny McCarthy. She completely disgusts me. There is absolutely no cure for autism, and the sooner we all face that the better we will be. We can learn new ways to cope with it, and we can learn new therapies, but there is not a cure.

    October 10, 2010 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Jeff

    Don't come out and say Autism is genetic with out any proof. Prove it. People said the earth was flat, it was proven not to be. Prove it's genetic, don't say it because big business paid you to, Prove it, which gene, please identife the gene you are talking about. Lets see your evidence, not "my brother kinds of looks like me" maybe thats because we had the same mother and father, are you kidding me with this study.

    OK since mercury is so good for your why don't your drink a thimble's worth and watch yourself die. I think that will be my only comment for now on, when I see this crap. Are you going to tell us next autism is caused by the earths rotation or global warming, come on global warming sounds better than gentics, it is much more realevant.

    Please you forgot to tell us Mercury is not a poison and you will be glad to drink a glass, Maybe you should read the procedure in cleaning up Mercury if it is spilled in a lab, then you will know how deadly it is.
    I am so happy big business is going to loose ten times the amount of future money, then if they had only told the truth.

    See big business no one trusts you anymore, please show the proof it genetic, you can't because then you would be caught in your lie, all you have bogus studies you pay for.

    October 10, 2010 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DocSoup

      Actually, it appears that global warming and thimerosal are much more closely related than autism and thimerosal. I have seen the evidence. You appear to be getting quite hot.

      October 10, 2010 at 01:47 | Report abuse |
  46. Jeff

    Sorry Mercury is good, I just read a study, please everyone go out and drink plenty, oh yea – drink some gasoline too.

    Yes drink gasoline, do you know why. I will tell you, because any scientist will tell you gasoline is not even close to being as toxic as Mercury. I believe plutonium and something else beat it.

    October 10, 2010 at 01:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DocSoup

      One final shot, and I'll stop beating the dying horse. Simple facts about thimerosal. Thimerosal is the same thing that my grandma put on my cuts, and I hated it: mercurichrome. It required no special care if spilled, why, because it is thimerosal. Thimerosal is converted by the body to ethylmercury. Ethylmercury CANNOT cross the blood brain barrier. It cannot enter the brain at all. It cannot damage the brain. Mercury in the lab is methylmercury. It is highly toxic if inhaled or ingested in any way. It crosses the blood brain barrier easily and does damage, but despite numerous cases of methylmercury poisoning, like thor, no case of methylmercury poisoning has ever lead to a case of autism. THEY ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COMPOUNDS.

      I'm heading to higher grounds. I hear the polar ice caps are beginning to melt at an alarming rate.

      October 10, 2010 at 02:09 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      For the record, the Jeff you have replied to here is not the same Jeff you were conversing with earlier.

      October 10, 2010 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      I should add that I only made two posts originally, three if you count the typo correction. All other Jeff posts afterward are someone else.

      October 10, 2010 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
  47. Deborah

    If you want your child to have higher language development, throw out the television and the DVDs.

    October 10, 2010 at 02:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. MM

    Are children in countries where the vaccine is not given getting autism? It just seems to me that the link is the vaccine.

    October 10, 2010 at 02:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen

      Despite the world getting smaller, there are areas of the world where certain genetic traits are seen in larger numbers simply because of the homogenized gene pool. The assumption that autism is not seen in as large numbers in other parts of the world may be caused by that or by lack of access to screening and treatments in some parts of the world.

      October 10, 2010 at 08:48 | Report abuse |
  49. Angela

    I believe vaccines are one of many triggers in genetically pre-disposed individuals (think about all the other toxins we are exposed to now that we weren't two generations ago). While I would never stop vaccinations altogther, I do selectively vaccinate (only one dose of varicella and MMR until they are adults and have their immunity tested, etc) and refuse any and all flu vaccines (they only match the current strand 50% of the time). The drug companies have convinced us we need extra vaccines. When were the major outbreaks of varicella, measles, mumps or reubella to justify extra doses? My 3 year old has ONLY been sick within 2 weeks of vaccination and never any other times. His whole preschool class had swine flu and his immune system fought it off because of the emphasis our family places on nutrition and overall health.

    October 10, 2010 at 03:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DocSoup

      Vaccines can't, never have, or never will cause autism. There is no mechanism that can do that. The reason you don't see those diseases is because the vast majority of people vaccinate appropriately. Flu vaccine matches the strain about 70 – 80% of the time. Great studies have shown that children do not become sick more often immediately following vaccines. Other studies have shown that characteristics of autism exist before vaccination with MMR. Still others show that a child's immune system can respond to over 10,000 different antigens at once. The entire set of childhood vaccines through kindergarten has only about 250 different antigens. Did you know that the most dangerous part of vaccination is the drive to the doctor's office? Did you know that spreading vaccines out not only means more trips to the doctor, but also significantly increases the risk for the most common vaccine side effects like redness, pain, and low grade fevers? Did you know that the rate of SIDS has decreased dramatically as vaccines have gone up? Again, the question has been asked and it has been answered. Vaccines do not cause, trigger, or do anything to effect autism.

      October 10, 2010 at 09:56 | Report abuse |
    • questionauthority

      hey DocSoup. I'm very suspecious of your post. Im guessing you do not have an autistic child and have no real reason for your input. What would you have us do put our head in the sand and completely discount all of the reports and very strong evidence to the contrary. I would never try and discount anyones suspisions that did not confrom to my own and with such strong convictions. i dont get it. Anyone with such strong opinions to a subject they have no personal experience with makes me question their motives. I dont trust you!

      October 10, 2010 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      ?: I do have strong opinions. I care for many children with autism. It is part of what I do every day. These are special children that our entire practice bends over backwards to see that they get the best possible care. I have always thought for myself, unlike those who follow blindly behind the writings of one discredited quack. I read. Not just government sponsored or drug company sponsored studies, but independent research. No one was able to duplicate anything that Andrew Wakefall did. People tried and tried, but no link, and not even a mechanism through which there could be a link. Was Wakefall trustworthy? Read and decide for yourself. He falsified data, did invasive evaluations on children with autism without their or their parent's permission, was paid over $600,000 dollars by lawyers to blame the MMR, and all the while he was quietly developing his own measles vaccine that was worthless unless he could discredit the less expensive MMR. Double check my data, but read and think. My partners and I care for over 16,000 children. We are so confident in the safety of vaccines that we dismiss families who chose not to vaccinate from our practice. In the last 5 years we have dismissed 10 to 15 families and at least 5 of them came back within the year and those children are now vaccinated. Our practice has as close to 100% vaccination rate as possible yet we don't have any more children with autism than practices that are less strict.

      October 10, 2010 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • DocSoup

      ?: I meant Andrew Wakefield (i have a friend named Wakefall). Google "The Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield" cartoon. A simplistic but very accurate and well done piece. Talking about conspiracy theories, this one takes the cake.

      October 10, 2010 at 15:27 | Report abuse |
  50. Rita

    Was Jenny McCarthy too busy to get in some sl u tty clothes and let you get a picture of her for this story?

    October 10, 2010 at 03:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Spike

      Jenny McCarthy is a stupid cvnt!

      October 10, 2010 at 06:25 | Report abuse |
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