July 5th, 2011
01:10 PM ET

Study: Environment plays larger role in autism

Researchers in California suggest environmental factors may play a larger role in triggering autism than was previously thought.  Their study was published Monday in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

The study shows a "need to accept that we have to go down the route of environment and genetics " when it comes to studying the causes of autism, says lead author Dr. Joachim Hallmayer. "We have look at both sides of coin."

Scientists at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, using state records, identified 192 pairs of twins in which at least one of the two had some form of autism. Among these sets, there were 54 pairs of identical and 138 pairs of fraternal twins. The Stanford researchers then examined the children for autism themselves, using standard diagnosing tools.

What they found, using mathematical formulas, was that the genes twins share can increase the risk of getting autism by about 38%, but the environment twins share in the womb and immediately after birth may increase the risk even more – an estimated 58%.  Hallmayer says these are only estimates, but he believes the environment may play a larger role than previously thought.

Approximately 1 in 110 children in the United States have some form of developmental delay known as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ASDs become apparent by the time a child turns 3 and begins to show significant social, communication and behavioral difficulties. The exact causes of these brain disorders – which can range from mild to severe – are not known, and there's no cure. Mothers used to be blamed for being "too cold" towards their children when autism first was identified in the first part of the 20th century, but towards the end of that century, genetics were believed to be a major culprit, and so far several specific genes have been linked to ASDs.

But in recent years, some scientists have been saying that there has to be something else triggering autism in genetically susceptible children. Hallmayer, who is the principal investigator for A California Population-Based Twin Study of Autism, says,  "We're finally moving to a little bit of a middle position and we have to really study both factors."  Hallmayer says his study adds more weight to the argument that both aspects are key to understanding autism.

He says this study was not designed to determine which specific environmental factors are at play, therefore the researchers cannot pinpoint which issues add to the autism risk. Hallmayer and his colleagues suggest in their paper that some of the non-genetic environmental factors that could influence a child developing autism might be parental age, low birth rates, multiple births or maternal infections during pregnancy.  They also could not pinpoint when a fetus is at greatest risk for environmental factors interfering with normal brain development (i.e. early in pregnancy, later in the pregnancy or at birth). So a lot more research is needed.

This study did find that fraternal twins also are at risk for autism, not just identical twins as some previous, smaller studies have suggested.  It found the other research had seriously underestimated the concordance rate or rate of both children having an autism diagnosis – in fraternal twins.  Hallmayer adds that his study provides evidence that the environmental factors have been underestimated because fraternal twins  share only about half of their genes with their sibling and if both have the same or at least some form of ASD, then there has to be more than just genes affecting the twins' brain development.  Fraternal twins do share the same environment in their mother's womb, are exposed to the same bacteria or viruses right after birth and while  in the hospital and presumably are drinking the same breast milk – all possible sources of environmental triggers for autism.

Dr.Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, who was not involved with the study, thinks one of the two factors may carry more weight.  "I would argue it's more of environmental influence in genetically susceptible people," he says.  It is when a baby is in the womb, Wizniter says.  "During fetal life is the time for the greatest brain growth."  In those nine  months is when the "greatest rate and changes in brain growth occur," he says, so it makes sense that there is a risk that outside factors can have an influence on brain development.

Wiznitzer suggests perhaps births too close together and nutritional deficiencies could provide some of these environmental factors. "Multiple-birth pregnancies are themselves associated with increased risk of developmental disorders such as cerebral palsy and autism," says study co-author Clara Lajonchere, Ph.D., in a statement. She is  vice president of clinical programs for Autism Speaks, a science and advocacy organization, which partially funded this study, along with the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Hallmayer and Wiznitzer both say that in addition to researching genetic risk factors for autism more research on environmental influences is needed.  That's something other experts have been calling for during the past few years.

soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. CLS88

    This story suggests further support of the vitamin D thoery of autsim.

    Fraternal twins with higher rates of autsim?

    Environemental triggers?

    What is more environmental than the sun?

    The highest rates of autsim in the world, those of the Somali women in Minnesota and the Ugandan women of Northern Germany, levels 200 X (two hundred) that of the surrounding population, and vitamin D levels so low as to be often undetectable?

    At least 90% of all vitamin D in circulation are derived from direct sunlight.

    July 5, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sumatra

      Are you saying that a possible cause of Autism is lack of vitamin D?

      July 5, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, knock it off. You are on nearly every thread shilling for somebody who manufactures Vit. D supplements. You're tiresome. And wrong.

      July 6, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse |
    • mw

      Tom, Tom– my nephew was just diagnosed with Crohn's disease. He's only 9. His doctor said his vitamin D was so low that the disease manifested itself earlier in his life than it would have otherwise, and that Crohns diagnosis's have gone up drastically in the past few years as a result of kids not getting enough vitamin D. He says that if kids spent 15 minutes in the sun a few times a week without sunscreen it wouldn't be a problem. I don't know if any of this is true, but I know I feel better when I get a little sunshine in my life and that this obsession with never letting unprotected skin see daylight is silly. We need sunshine to absorb vitamin D, which makes us healthy! Everything in moderation...

      July 6, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
    • Sandra

      The body derives vitamin K from sunlight, not vitamin D.

      You need vitamin K to live and you can only produce that from sunlight.

      Autism rates are increasing, the sun has always been there.

      August 6, 2011 at 18:42 | Report abuse |
  2. Andy

    Yes, the environment causes autism. The precise environment is the doctor's office, and the precise environmental factor is vaccination.

    Doctors poison babies for a living. That's why they're busy studying every other possible cause and trying to pretend it is genetic.

    For parents who want some hope of curing their autistic child, get on the autism-mercury list on yahoo.com's groups section. For those who want no hope, those who want to condemn their child to a lifetime of suffering and disability, just listen to what your doctor says. The same one who poisoned your baby.

    July 5, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Equally viable reports...

      And in other news, the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot just got Married by Elvis in area 51.

      July 5, 2011 at 14:33 | Report abuse |
    • LO

      Wow Andy... both of my children received all of their vaccines. They are meeting milestones & developing perfectly – they are not “condemned”!! If vaccines were the cause, then all children would have autism and doctors would not vaccinate their own children. There needs to be a genetic pre-disposition. Look at family members of children with autism… in most cases there is a parent/uncle/sibling somewhere with ADD/ADHD, a learning disability, Asperger's, ASD ...etc. The gene pool plays a significant role.

      July 5, 2011 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
    • johnp

      Most parents are clueless about vaccines, like LO and Equally. Parents who care knew this long time ago. This is not news.

      July 5, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
    • shannonparis

      Some children are definitely predisposed to having a reaction to immunizations just as some are more likely to have allergies. If no children had reactions there wouldn't be those long warnings telling us that some children die after receiving vaccinations. The percentages are small and the idea behind vaccination is supposedly for the greater good however the risks are still there. Since no definitive proof has been given for the cause of Autism we will all continue to speculate.

      July 5, 2011 at 16:35 | Report abuse |
    • Dad Fourkids

      For those who continue to say that no cases of autism are caused by vaccinations (whether you are doing so to obsfucate or because you blindly believe what your pediatrician tells you) I have two words – Poling and Banks.

      July 5, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      DadFourKids – No cases of Autism were caused by vaccinations. People with your views are either ignorant or scientifically innumerate.

      July 5, 2011 at 19:14 | Report abuse |
    • md2lh9c

      Not all are infected by the vaccine but it is true that babies are normal and progress normally then all of sudden after certain vaccines they start to show the changes. I do believe this and am a witness to it.

      July 6, 2011 at 05:46 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Andy – vaccines are only ONE of the environmental factors contributing to autism, and sorry but the person who responded to you that all kids who are vaccinated don't get autism and some that don't get vaccinated do get autism doesn't disprove ANYTHING. Autism is not a one size fits all, otherwise everyone would have the same symptoms and as anyone experienced with the ASD knows the behaviors, diagnoses and symptoms are very different. Someone with Asperger's exhibits vastly different behavior than someone who is extremely low functioning and non-verbal.

      GMO's contaminate our food supply, there are over 3,000 chemicals that can be put in personal care products under the name "parfum", many crops are massively sprayed with glyphosate (thanks Monsanto for another in a long list of wonderful contributions you've made to the human race) which has been shown to cause birth defects, we eat processed foods left, right and center, CAFO's have caused a massive rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria, vaccines contain many toxic ingredients that industry has not provided testing when used in combination with other vaccines like you are asked to do to your kids, there are 14 studies industry uses to refute the autism link, there are 40+ studies that prove the toxicity of vaccines and 300+ studies on the ingredients alone and how they are all immuno-suppressants, carcinogens and neurotoxins.

      The time to stop ignoring the vaccine-link is here. It is DEFINITELY part of the environmental link, it's absolutely ABSURD to suggest otherwise. To quote Anne Daschel – I’m sure officials who’ve long promoted the idea that children were born with autism will be scrambling to explain why they’ve shown so little interest in anything but genetic causes for autism. I’m sure they’ll claim that they’ve known it was the environment all along and the impact is prenatal, or it’s because of pesticides, or living too near a freeway, or any of the 80,000 untested toxic chemicals children are exposed to.

      Anything will be up for consideration–except vaccines. They’re safe; all the studies say so. No one will want to look at the thousands of claims from parents attesting to the fact that their children were healthy until they were vaccinated. I can imagine years of studies looking at the hair spray mothers use, their cleaning products, anything but vaccines.

      She's absolutely right, not a single mention of vaccines in all the articles you can search for on this new study, thanks mainstream media for being pHARMa's patsy again and again. Perhaps you can explain some of these studies away for me? – http://fourteenstudies.org/ourstudies.html

      Cheers Andy.

      July 6, 2011 at 09:33 | Report abuse |
    • N

      ANDY, people like you astound me. I understand that everyone has ideas and view points, but if your ideas are something that you just pull out of the air then keep them to your self. There is no need to scare parents into not vaccinating their children and then risking their children dying from an easily preventable disease. Vaccines DO NOT give children autism. The only research that said it did was later proved to be fraudulent.

      July 6, 2011 at 09:59 | Report abuse |
    • yoi

      Okay, so don't vaccinate them, and let them die of the disease the vaccination is given for instead. The death rates were a lot higher than the autism rate when those diseases were rampant.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
    • jenp

      I was worried my first child would have autism so I didn't have him vaccinated. Guess what, he's autistic. I noticed he wasn't smiling at 3 months old and other babies started smiling at 2 months. Eventually I did get him vaccinated and it didn't make him any worse. My other two I had vaccinated right away and show no signs of Autism. It is weird though how I worried about my first born getting Autism well before I was ever pregnant and he ended up having it. My husband and I even discussed it while I was pregnant.

      July 6, 2011 at 21:14 | Report abuse |
    • Sandra

      First of all, vaccines do NOT contain mercury, never had, most likely never will.

      There is also mercury in seafood and other diets, mercury alone can not be the cause. Even when mercury thermometers were used, Autism rates were low.

      The air also contains a lot more toxins than an sterile vaccine injection, you may want to stop breathing (<<– sarcastic, I think you might be crazy enough to actually do that)

      August 6, 2011 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
  3. Chas

    This article (and the research behind it) doesn't say anything.

    July 5, 2011 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • shannonparis

      I agree the article doesn't say much. There may be genetic predispositions to Autism which could be triggered by environmental factors that include immunizations. Not the mercury per se but simply a reaction from the underdeveloped immune system to the immunization. Lawsuits have been won citing encephalopathy caused by immunizations that produce autistic like symptoms. MRIs are not routinely done before and after immunizations and genetic susceptibility testing for autism is not part of prenatal care so accurate tracking is only done once one sibling has already been affected. Much improvement is needed to accurately assess and track this disease.

      July 5, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
    • Kristen

      You are so right. This is a weak epidemiological study. It has long been known that having a sibling who has autism puts a child in a higher risk category for ASD. Fraternal twins are related in exactly the same way as non-twin siblings. Therefore, they have a high risk of autism if they have a sibling who is autistic (including the one that shared a womb). The only viable test would be to discover autisitc identical twins who had been raised separately. Then n=too small of a sample to be useful.

      Interesting that Autism Speaks provided funding. I am beginning to think that Autism Speaks no longer speaks for the vast majority of families with autism. They consistently fund studies to try to prove an evironmental factor. Lawsuit waiting for a defendant, hmmm?

      July 6, 2011 at 10:23 | Report abuse |
  4. Adam

    Andy, your comment is wrong and dangerous. I have 3 children all diagnosed with Autism. After my first was diagnosed we held off on vaccines for my daughter and next son until they were required for schooling. Both showed signs of delay and were diagnosed before the vaccines were given.

    July 5, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jmg

      So sorry to hear about your kids, but thank you for pointing out that vaccines became a red herring due to severely biased 'research'. There has not been mercury in children's vaccines for years, so people who keep throwing that about are uneducated. I have no doubt that environment and genetics do play a part in this spectrum of disorders and due to it being such a large spectrum, I don't know we will ever have a definitive answer. There are so many chemicals in our lives now, it will be near impossible to figure out.

      July 5, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      JMG – True they removed thermosil from the child vaccines, but it is still used in flu vaccinations to this day.

      July 6, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse |
    • jenp

      There are Jehovah's Witnesses in my community and they don't believe in vaccinations. They too are having problems with Autism and Aspergers.

      July 6, 2011 at 21:17 | Report abuse |
    • Sandra

      Agree, Adam.

      The preservative you mentioned that was used in some older vaccines contained a mercury atom that was part of a complex molecule. It was a stable molecule that could not allow the atom to interact with other molecules.

      The mercury molecule is a whole different story, that is very toxic and no vaccine every contained that. People don't understand the difference between an atom and a molecule and how they interact with other molecules, tissue, and the body.

      August 6, 2011 at 18:48 | Report abuse |
  5. mjh

    unless anyone has a DOCTORIT in MEDICAL SCIENCE and has done universal research study in AUTISM voice your comments with the utmost respect this is not a guessing game this requires CRITICAL THINKING soo give the docs and scientist the space they need to look into this further to try and come up with the reason that is causing this to occur/ respectfully............

    July 5, 2011 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • matt

      Antivaccination wackaloons listen up to this one! Nicely put MJH.

      July 5, 2011 at 19:11 | Report abuse |
    • Richids

      @ mjh – the scientists and doctors have been doing research for a long time, it's just ignored by the people running the show like Dr. Offit, the CDC, the FDA, the pharmaceutical companies. Sheesh, the FDA even authenticated a letter from the scientific body in 2010 that was written to President Obama and several others complaining that their advice and findings were routinely ignored in favor of political or corporate gains.

      July 6, 2011 at 09:35 | Report abuse |
  6. specialsmom

    At recent psych consult on son, the shrink seemed more interested in family history..both of us have schizophrenia in multiple relatives. Also I wish more research done on digestive problems.

    July 5, 2011 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. ac818

    What about the bad parenting environment? I know I'll get chastised for that, but of the 20 or so children I have encountered in my long lifetime whose parents say they have some form of autism, spectrum, adhd, add, sensory integration, etc...I have yet to meet one parent who has not shown me poor skills related to discipline, intuition, quality time spent, babying when their kid is whiny, child development knowledge/theory, etc. Bad parenting is the norm. We are raising a bunch of selfish brats who need constant and instant gratification. Who are growing up in day care, with their parents distracted by all forms of media and technology when they're supposed to be present. Who value celebrities and fashion and gadgets and colorful plastic crap before they understand their own history or their neighbor's plight or a flower growing or the change of the seasons. I would love to be proven wrong, but so far it walks like a duck, so I'm calling it a duck.

    July 5, 2011 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kristen

      I am so glad that it is 1950 where you are. I like Ike!!! I think what you confuse for poor parenting skills is the reality of parenting a special needs child. Unti you actually experience a meltdown (not a run of the mill tantrum but a true meltdown) then shut up. When your 3 year old is on the floor screaming, crying and flailing and the only solution is a full body bear hug until they calm down (10-20 minutes later) because the wrong pillow is on their bed, you realize that this is not neurotypical behavior. It is, however, normal for your child. You learn to adapt because they cannot. Not will not, CAN NOT. I would not wish meltdowns and rigid thinking and complete lack of recognition of social skills on anyone. On the other hand, when my teenager puts his chin on my head and says" Mom, you are short", I am thankful that I have him. It means as much to me as a big hug and kiss from my more neurotypical kids.I

      July 6, 2011 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
    • Victor

      Great comment...thanks for bringing some rationality to the argument. It cracks me up that my generation (born in the 70s) has, for some reason, come to believe that the world is a dangerous place and their kids need to be constantly watched and protected. It is not natural for kids to be the center of the world...they will get their turns when they grow up, for now they should be allowed to play in an unsupervised manner, come to dinner and then go outside and play some more. The adults will enjoy their lives far more and the kids will be far better adjusted.

      July 6, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • Rocksor

      I take that you are not a parent of a special needs child or dealt with a special needs child.

      July 6, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
    • jenp

      Wow, I guess it depends on where you live. I know some amazing families with Autistic children. It really seems to be hitting good and bad families randomly.

      July 6, 2011 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
    • Danielle

      Spot on! If someone keeps pouring water on the ground and complains about the mud, I would say: Stop pouring the freaking water!

      February 27, 2012 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
  8. ac818

    If you are affected by any of these parenting frustrations, google "indigo children" or "crystal children" or "rainbow children". Generations of children basically refusing this crazy world presented to them. Challenging the "norm" and demanding to be treated differently. Basically, "tuning out"...

    July 5, 2011 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yah. Right. I've met some of your "indigo children". They aren't autistic. They're spoiled and coddled.

      Autism is real. What you're blabbering about is nothing but New Age nuttiness.

      July 6, 2011 at 10:04 | Report abuse |
  9. specialsmom

    I resent the idea that we must all be bad parents..who are you? no one will ever be perfect at anything other than being themself. if u met my child u would see that autism is not just brattiness!

    July 5, 2011 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Anne McElroy Dachel

    CNN: "The exact causes of these brain disorders – which can range from mild to severe – are not known."

    Experts have wasted twenty years scratching their collective heads over autism, satisfied to leave the cause a mystery as a generation of children was lost. Most egregious was their failure to look into the thousands of reports from parents who said that their child was born healthy and was normally developing until they were vaccinated. Suddenly they changed, lost speech, stopped making eye contact, lost learned skills and regressed into autism.

    Despite the fact that the environmental link is finally recognized, will we be forced to endure another 20 years of pharma-funded studies showing that the trigger isn't vaccines?

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

    July 6, 2011 at 01:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Go peddle your twaddle somewhere else. You are a nut-job and anyone who's read your crap knows it.

      July 6, 2011 at 10:02 | Report abuse |
    • Noreen

      Amen Sister! You have to be very observant and know your baby! He was my second so I know what I'm talking about. He got sicker with each one and experienced a sensory freak out (after his 6 month). Unfortunately, I was Pro Vaccines and even had a flu shot that my DOCTOR recommended. Thanks Doc! The only of my 3 that has Autism...the only one that had mercury in his environment and the only one who had Reactions to Vaccines. I know Exactly was TRIGGERED it. There is a suseptibility and there there's the Trigger. No more provaccine. A dr. said, "possible encephalytis" YipPPEEE! Thanks for helping to Protect my child – now he suffers all day/ every day but won't get the mumps! Yippee

      August 4, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
  11. sarah

    Autism is a growing issue in society, which needs to be researched more extensively than ever before. There are 4 children in my family who have Autism diagnoses. They are all high functioning, however they have social and behavioral issues. No one is a perfect parent. And I whole heartedly do not believe the way an individual parents is a direct factor. However, I do believe those children who were neglected, abused, or separated from their parents are at a higher risk for incidence. My youngest sister was separated from my parents for 4 days, due to being born prematurely. She was diagnosed with Aspergers at age 9. She has social, and at times, behavioral issues. She also has emotional and attachment strains, but all in all is a smart, friendly kid. There's not much to be done for a child with a disposition to the disease, except to love them for who they are or could be. Those who believe its not a "real" problem or its due to poor parenting/children misbehaving, are ignorant to true disorders. Those who say "they know what they're doing, its all for attention", that they're "just bad kids" are so very wrong.

    July 6, 2011 at 06:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Noreen

      I refuse to believe that (separation). Do you think we were intended to be shoot up little babies with so much CRAP into their little bodies or we were meant to "protect". You better watch out. Autism is in your family!!!! Your kids are at RISK. If you vaccinate, MAKE THOSE REACTION CALLS. Most of the parents don't put it together...until it's too late. The Immune System acts RANDOMLY. Also, looking back at our vaccines, MY HUSBAND GO THE OPV (Oral). That thing is DISCONTINUED or DARN should be and yet, they STILL USE IT. No one cares, until it's YOUR baby or your grandchild. Pay Attn and Don't Ignore parents who ARE being Observant.

      August 4, 2011 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
  12. Julie

    I know a number of excellent parents with autistic children. Following up on the article, I am trying to figure out if any in utero environmental factors have changed over the last few decades. If so, these might trigger the genetic predisposition in some children. I do not wish to suggest that any of these recent advances are a problem, but has anyone looked into ubiquitous "new" practices (ultrasound, the administration of epidurals, etc.)

    July 6, 2011 at 08:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Ronnie

    I think the biggest environmental cause of autism is older women haivng children well past 35. They are putting off children while they build a career, then hear their biological clock ticking and have children right after the other. If you have children in your 20's your body takes 2 years to get back to normal. Add age on that and it takes longer. Alas medical science only goes so far. We human have not evolved fst enough to keep up with our lifestyles. We are still meant to have kids in our 20's. After 30 is stll ok..after 35 is very, very risky.

    July 6, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Noreen

      You better stop BLAMING WOMEN!!! I am sick of that. While OLDER PARENTS have a higher Risk of Everything, the Man/Father is the one with no SOCIAL CLUE (just a thought). We are sick of being called refridgerators, cold, unhealthy or whatever you come up with!!! The blame game is DONE! We need to follow ALL LEADS which is Yes, Vaccines have been IMPLICATED NUMEROUS times and has killed some babies and even the VAERS numbers are EXTREMELY LOW for actual numbers. Just be respectful and stop with this nonsense of separated or whatever! The Moms are very loving (majority to bring the baby into the world) and usually the person who can't read body language or seem "odd" or "have no friends" are the ones possibly on the Spectrum. That wasn't me and yes, both husbands have admitted to having Speech and OT, and PT so shut your bad mouthing mothers!!!! Loser!

      August 4, 2011 at 15:32 | Report abuse |
  14. Kelly

    I believe it is genetics totally. I have 2 children with autism, my mother in law is defiantly on the spectrum, so is my father and my brother. People need to stop looking for something else to blame. Just help the child as once your child is on the spectrum, you need to help them in every way you can to be successful. I know other families who have multiple kids with ASD and you can clearly see signs in their parents. Lack of eye contact, lack of coping skills, lack of social normalities. This is very genetic and anyone who tells you it isn't doesn't get autism.

    I was only 25 when I had my first and 30 when I had my second, so was my hubby, so that rules out age for us. I live in a smaller city with less pollution and away from any pollution, and both my boys were born mid 7 pounds, so that rules out for us the "environmental factors".

    I am not discounting environmental factors, but they clearly were not a part of both my children getting autism.

    I love my children and wouldn't never change them, they are beautiful wonderful children and it has taken adjusting my life to be the best parent for them. Forget about what to blame and just help your children and you will find more peace that way. Just my thoughts, Kelly.

    July 6, 2011 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Noreen

      Honestly, I'm not trying to "blame" anything. I'm merely observed what happenned to observe changes/medical and regression AFTER SHOTS and inflammation. It happens and it's part of the RISKS in fine, fine print!!

      August 4, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
  15. tam

    I haven't read all the comments, but has anyone suggested ultrasounds. Many women are now having multiple scans during their pregnancy, where it used to be very rare. These scans are going through the babies brains. Maybe these scans to see if the baby is ok and developing normally are not so good for the babies themselves?

    July 6, 2011 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. T3chsupport

    Autism has become a huge industry. Yes, obviously a lot of kids have actual autism and problems with it, but there are also a lot of pretty normal kids who have some symptoms but really shouldn't be considered disabled because of it. Because it's a 'spectrum', a kid can have just a few 'symptoms' and be considered autistic, but they're still mostly normal, however the autism diagnosis will make people treat the child differently from other children, which makes that child act even more different.

    Our son was diagnosed with autism when he was 2. He had epic tantrums, he was very sensitive to textures and noises, he would sit and stare at a ceiling fan spinning for hours, and his style of play was putting everything in neat, organized lines. He took a little bit longer than others to learn to talk. He was very independent, and didn't like to be held, or even touched for very long since he was a baby.

    So everyone started treating him differently from other kids. His screaming and tantrums were just part of his 'condition', he couldn't help him, treat him special... the condition of being a 2 year old! We would never have been able to afford the treatments or therapy that were suggested, and we were losing our minds with it, so we just gave up on autism. Not the kid, just the autism. Stopped caring whatsoever. No one else was going to treat him special just because he was different, so we came of the mind that we should prepare him for that as well as possible. Tantrums resulted in consequences fitting to his age and infractions. We didn't worry about him walking on his toes, or staring at the fan, or lining up his toys. Instead of accepting one word answers for things, we wouldn't give him what he wanted until he asked correctly (we would of course tell him the proper way to ask for things the first couple of times). 'Milk?' soon became 'Can I have some milk, please?' by the time he was 3. He's 5 now, very social, and has a huge vocabulary, and has fewer fits and misbehaviors than any other 5 year old I know. He still lines up his toys, but his imaginative play has caught up with him.

    I know that not everyone has an autistic child who is like this, and many of them really are much worse and really cannot help it. But the reason I'm writing this is isn't to say that you're doing everything wrong, I just want people to know that just because their kid is diagnosed with autism doesn't mean the end of the world. Don't treat them like a condition, treat them like a child. Autism isn't always a disability, sometimes it's just a 'difference', a punch to be rolled with. If you treat them like they are disabled when they are really just different, then you are going to be the one to make them disabled for lack of knowing how the world really works, because your world is the ONLY one that revolves around them, and not everyone else's.

    His father and I both had issues as children that had our parents taken us to a doctor and told them about it, we may well have been placed on the autism spectrum. We were weird, and we still mostly are. Are we on the autism spectrum? Don't know, don't care. Doesn't matter! But had we been diagnosed, and treated differently because of it, we would be very different people today.

    July 6, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mw

      Good for you! As a teacher I see waaaaay too many children diagnosed with autism who are coddled, babied, and allowed to act however they want. Many children with autism are capable of excellent behavior. You just have to let them know what you expect, have consequences when they don't do what they should, and let them know you love them no matter what. Many parents would be surprised how good their children can behave when they aren't given an excuse to behave poorly. Hurrah for you expecting the most of your child! I'm sure he will be forever grateful!

      July 6, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
  17. BD76

    Environmental factors in autism is not a suprise to me. My sister is severly autistic, and I have always thought that the environment that we lived in during the pregancy and when she was a baby was part of the problem. When my mother was pregant with my sister we were living in a homeless shelter in a run down shady motel. There was no heat, lead paint on the walls and rare working sewage. We ate nothing but PB&J because there was no fridge or stove. How could that not have effected her early development? I think that you need a combination of physical and psychological factors for autism to present itself.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Jennifer State

    Here is an interview with an autism expert discussing the findings of the study... interestin­g stuff and it's certainly food for thought for pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Kat43

    I don't know if immunizations cause autism or not, no one does. However, I have a friend whose oldest son has autisum who received all his immunizations. When her second child was born, she wouldn't get any of his immunizations for fear of him getting autism from the vaccines. In the end, he has been diagnosed with autism as well. Both boys are on the severe spectrum.

    July 6, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mw

      It's been proven that immunizations don't cause autism. It's considered common knowledge now.

      July 6, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
  20. lunchbreaker

    If you don't vaccinate your children because you believe they "might" cause autism, you are saying,"I would rather take the chance that my child will die of a preventable desease than deal with an autistic kid."

    July 6, 2011 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rocksor

      It's dertainly cheaper and less stressful to have a child die then wonder how to provide for them after you're gone.

      July 6, 2011 at 17:02 | Report abuse |
  21. Ben's Mom

    My oldest son was finally diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, which is a form of Autism. I said to anyone that would listen, that there was something 'different' about my child. I was told either i was nervous because he was my first child, or he is a boy, or more discipline was needed. When he was in middle school, we were referred to a therapist who in turn introduced us to a psychiatrist who in turn requested more testing. He was finally diagnosed at age 13, just a few weeks before he was sent to a Counrt Ordered primitive boys camp for a year. Since then he has graduated high school and attended 2 years at a technical school before bad grades and losing his financial aid. I am now trying to get him on disablility. He can not function in the work place because of social and behavioral issues.
    I believe the time i was pregnant with him to have been so full of stress and turmoil is the result of his diagnosis. Not vaccines or genetics. I don't know for sure – that is just what I think.

    July 6, 2011 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Maurine meleck

    Finally, at least, they are admitting that environment trumps genetics. Now they need to take another giant step from anything not vaccines to vaccines.. Two decades late is better than never.

    July 6, 2011 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. popcares

    Can someone please explain to me how it is possible for US public health officials to continue .. shamefully .. claiming the "benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks" .. when there is so much statistical evidence that demonstrates otherwise?

    According to all statistics .. children born in the United States .. are less likely to survive their first year of life .. than 33 other .. less wealthy, less technologically advanced developed nations.

    The annual birth rate in the United States is somewhere between 4 and 5 million a year .. and .. 6.33 per 1000 translates into tens of thousands of children .. EVERY YEAR .. that die prior to one year of age .. even though .. the vast majority of these children have received numerous vaccines ostensibly to protect them from "deadly" diseases .. that other nations with better infant survival rates DO NOT VACCINATE FOR.

    The obvious question is why infant mortality rates continue to trend downward in the United States .. even as more and more vaccines are recommended each year for children less than 1 year of age?

    Shouldn't common sense dictate the most heavily vaccinated children in the United States would be the most likely to survive their first year of life .. yet .. this is simply not so. WHY?

    I think it is time US public health officials explained why children in the United States are more likely to die prior to 1 years of age .. if .. as these officials insist .. "The Benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks"?

    July 7, 2011 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Maggie

    I think it's interesting that this article doesn't mention vaccines even once, and yet people are talking about it nonstop, but no one has even mentioned that it points to breastmilk as a possible cause of autism, which is INSANE and completely not ever proved by even one whiff of science, and the entire comment thread is fine with it.

    July 9, 2011 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Ross Coe

    Why is there a vaccine injury compensation plan and a vaccine injury court, and why did the U.S. government provide blanket immunity from all forms of litigation for vaccines only? Answer, to save them from being litigated out of business because they were found at fault so many times they were going bankrupt. Why are vaccines called safe?

    July 30, 2011 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Smashngrub

    Some have suggested nature-deficit may be the environmental cause of autism:

    March 25, 2012 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. stump1961

    I disagree, look at
    http://www.activistpost.com/2013/09/22-medical-studies-that-show-vaccines.html Friendly, Adriene

    April 17, 2017 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
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