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Why Has There Been An Increase In Autism

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What Doesn’t Cause Autism

Why is autism on the rise? | Inside Story

Bad parenting

There was a bleak period in history from the 1950s to 1970s when autism was believed to be a psychological disorder, and blamed on cold, uncaring parents, usually the mothers.

Fortunately, the myth of the refrigerator mother has been debunked by science, and autism is now recognised as a disorder of brain development with genetic links. Nothing you said or did as a parent caused your child to develop autism, so please dont listen to anyone who suggests otherwise.


Scores of scientific studies have effectively ruled out vaccines as a cause of autism. Concerns originally arose around two issues of Mercury and the MMR Vaccine

In 2014, a meta-analysis, combining the result of 10 studies and over 1.2 million children, found no link between vaccines and autism. The World Health Organization, the European Medicines Agency, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading international health groups have also concluded theres no link. Unfortunately, the belief persists among anti-vaccination campaigners, who are very vocal on the Internet. If you remain concerned about vaccines, arrange a time to talk your paediatrician or GP. Remember, Vaccines Save Lives!

The Claim: Autism Has Increased By 30000% In 50 Years Is Linked To Vaccines

As states advance in their distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, Americans have continued to discuss what risks;could be associated with gaining protection against the virus. One common belief espoused by parents and public figures who are against vaccination is that vaccines cause autism spectrum disorder, despite several studies showing no correlation between childhood vaccination and autism diagnoses.

A may represent a similar view. The post claims that autism “increased 30,000% in 50 years” and suggests there is a link between injections;and this statistic.;Originally posted on April 3, 2020, the post has accrued;roughly 1,500 shares.;

In a ;on the post, the author linked;vaccines to the “injections”;he mentions, suggesting he made the post, “Because they are trying to make us all take a shot of their NEW ‘Vaccine’!” The post’s comment functionality has since been turned off.

USA TODAY reached out to the poster for comment.

Any Room Left For A Real Increase

But is there any room left for an actual increase in the prevalence of ASD?

Potentially. For example, researchers have also found associations between both the mothers and fathers age and risk for ASD that is, the older the parents, the greater the chance;of having a child with ASD. And women in the U.S. are having children later;today compared to 2000, according to the CDC.;However,;we couldnt find similar data on U.S. men. We also couldnt find a;study that quantified how much increasing parental ages could be contributing to increased prevalence of ASD in the U.S.

If Trump had said that there has been a tremendous increase in the number of reported cases of ASD, that would be true.

But its unclear, at best, that theres been a;tremendous increase in the actual number of children;who exhibit ASDs symptoms.;

Research suggests that;broadened;diagnostic criteria, greater awareness and diagnostic recategorization of ASD with similar;disorders may account for a portion, if not the majority, of this reported increase.;

Currently, the CDC says the increase in ASD diagnosis is likely due to a combination of the these;factors and an actual increase.

What is clear, however, is that there is no evidence to support any contribution by vaccines to the increase in reported prevalence of ASD, as Trump implied back in 2015.

Editors Note: SciCheck is made possible by a grant from the Stanton Foundation.

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What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Previously Called Autism And Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the following:

  • Difficulties in social communication differences, including verbal and nonverbal communication.
  • Deficits in social interactions.
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities and sensory problems

Many of those with ASD can have delayed or absence of language development, intellectual disabilities, poor motor coordination and attention weaknesses.

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Of course, all parents of late-talking children should be sure to have their child screened for autismand all other clinical conditions associated with late talking: speech disorder, language disorder, hearing loss and intellectual disability while also bearing in mind that many late-talking children do not have any disability whatsoever. But never forego assessment simply because the odds are favorable that a late-talking child does not have autism.

But, also be prepared for an even more dramatic increase in the next round of autism data and a HUGE increase in the reported incidence in 2020and beyondbecause the latest 2018 data do not include children who were screened in 2010 at age 2 when the new guidelines for screening 2-year-olds were initiated. That is, national data are for autism in 8-year-olds, but are not reported until four years after a birth cohort turns eight. This years increase is based on children who turned eight in 2014 and were thus born in 2006. The 2020 data will be for children born in 2008, and then screened as 2-year-olds in 2010. They will turn eight in 2016and be reported in the national data in 2020.


Autism Spectrum Disorder. Data and Statistics. . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. accessed 4.29.2018.

Godlee, F., Smith, J., Marcovitch, H. Wakefields article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent. BMJ. 2011; 342: c7452. Accessed 01/25/2018.

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Changes In Reporting Practices

The CDC’s report on autism statistics is based on health and school records for 8-year-old children who live in select counties across the United States. The researchers are part of the;Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, which the CDC set up in 2000 to estimate autism prevalence.

Clinicians;scanned the school records for signs of autism features, such as social problems or repetitive behaviors. They use data from 8-year-olds because most children are enrolled in school and have had routine health assessments by that age. However, the data is not based on whether children have been given an actual diagnosis of ASD.

Up until 1990, autism was not included in legislation aimed at guaranteeing an education to individuals with disabilities. In 1990, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act added autism to its list of conditions covered under the act. The new law also added transition services and assistive technologies to its requirements. Autism had never been tracked as an educational statistic before 1990. Since 1990, the incidence of autism in schools has risen dramatically.

Another set of prevalence estimates published in Pediatrics in 2019 found that the prevalence of autism in the United States rose from 1 in 91 children in 2009 to 1 in 40 in 2017. The results were based on telephone or in-person interviews with the parents of 88,530 children aged 3 to 17 years, collected by the CDC as part of its;National Health Interview Survey.

Why Is Autism Increasing So Much

Youve probably seen the Autism Speaks;ads: Every two seconds a child;is diagnosed with autism.;As I write this today, the CDC has determined that 1 in a 54 people or 2% of males has an autism spectrum disorder !1Ever since Bob Wright, former president of NBC, became the grandfather of a child with autism and created Autism Speaks, awareness of and research on the condition has skyrocketed. Given this prevalence, you probably know someone who has a child with an ASD.

Welcome to my world. I am a developmental and behavioral pediatrician who has specialized, over the last 30 years, in caring for, diagnosing, and helping literally thousands of children and adolescents with ASD.

Over this time, my patients and their families have taught me so much about what it means to both struggle and grow and;accept what cant be changed.; I have learned to see through the eyes of the differently abled and their families. I have been witness to the miraculous potential within many of these children and adolescents who become fully functional and even indistinguishable from their peers . Recent research has found that the child with autism who receives intensive early intervention can outgrow their diagnosis.2;In my practice, I have many children who, over time, no longer met the official criteria for an autism spectrum disorder.

with lilacs. The last descendant.

J Child Psychol Psychiatry.JAMA Psychiatry.

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Association Between Socioeconomic Status And Asd Prevalence In The United States And Potential Under

In the United States, the prevalence of ASD as identified in both the ADDM Network surveillance system and in the National Health Interview Survey increases with increasing socioeconomic status . This SES gradient in ASD prevalence could be due to disparities in access to services. displays the results of an analysis of ADDM Network data showing the prevalence of ASD to be nearly twice as high in children in the highest SES tertile compared with those in the lowest SES tertile. Similarly, the NHIS data show a doseresponse association between maternal education and the prevalence of reported ASD in children, which ranged from 2.5 per 1,000 among offspring of mothers with less than a high school education to 6.1 per 1,000 among offspring of mothers with a bachelor’s degree . This SES gradient suggests that low-income children with ASD might be underidentified and less likely to be receiving ASD-related services than middle- and high-income children with ASD. This observation is relevant for the SSA, as applications for benefits may continue to rise for children in low-income families.

Prevalence per 1,000 of ASD by three SES indicators based on census block group of residence. NOTE: Thin bars indicate 95 percent confidence intervals. MHI refers to median household income. SOURCE: Durkin et al., 2010.

Will Diagnoses Of Autism Continue To Increase

Why Have There Not Been Any Clinical Trials for Experimental Autism Treatment?

There is no way to know for sure if autism rates will continue to rise. As diagnostic criteria evolve, it could lead to either more or fewer children being qualified for an autism diagnosis.

Some experts, for example, expected a decline in autism diagnoses once Asperger’s syndrome and PDD-NOS were eliminated as catch-all options. Others expected an increase as awareness and services improve. For now, the number and rate of children diagnosed with autism continue to rise.

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Zeroing In On Environmental Triggers

A variety of environmental triggers is under investigation as a cause or contributing factor to the development of ASD, especially in a genetically vulnerable child.

Exposure to pesticides during pregnancy may boost risk. In a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers compared 465 children diagnosed with ASD with nearly 7,000 children without the diagnosis, noting whether the mothers lived near agricultural areas using pesticides.

The risk of having ASD increased with the poundage of pesticides applied and with the proximity of the women’s homes to the fields.

Besides pesticide exposure, exposure to organic pollutants that have built up in the environment are another area of concern, says Pessah of UC Davis. For instance, polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, substances previously found in electrical equipment, fluorescent lighting and other products, are no longer produced in the U.S. but linger in the environment, he says. “Particular types of PCBs are developmental neurotoxins,” he says.

Another toxin to the brain is mercury in its organic form. But according to a report published in Pediatrics, there is no evidence that children with autism in the U.S. have increased mercury concentrations or environmental exposures. Though many parents of children with ASD believe their child’s condition was caused by vaccines that used to contain thimerosal , the Institute of Medicine concludes there is no causal association.

Supporting Young People In England With Autism Spectrum Disorder

In England, education, health and care plans are the mechanism to identify what additional support is required to help meet the needs of children and young people aged up to 25 with special educational needs and disabilities, including those with autism spectrum disorder.

The Children and Families Act 2014 the legislation which established and underpins education, health and care plans set out a deadline which requires local authorities to deliver plans within 20 weeks of receiving a request for an EHC needs assessment.

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The Epidemic That Never Was: Autism Has Always Been With Us

But the truth may be both stranger and more prosaic: there may be no epidemic at all.

To understand why, you have to plumb some of the hard questions about what autism actually is, and how we have come to view the disorder since it was first defined in the 1940s.

A psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins named Leo Kanner was the first doctor to describe the condition as a distinct disorder in 1943. But Kanner didnt coin the term; similar symptoms had been described as autistic as early as 1910, and accounts from as far back as the 18th century describe patients who, in all likelihood, would have fit modern standards for an ASD diagnosis.

So autism has always been with us and in proportions that have not always been clear. Inventing a diagnosis did not invent the disorder. And it turns out to be very likely that changing the diagnostic routines has not actually changed the number of people afflicted, but only our ability to accurately count them.

That change happened in 1994. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, the standard classification system used by psychiatrists, had provided a diagnosis for autism since 1980. That diagnosis required that candidates match six of six possible criteriaa high standard. But the new version of the DSM released in 1994 required that only eight of sixteen criteria be meta lower bar.

In fact, a 2015 study in Denmark attributed about 60 percent of the increase in autism diagnosis to DSM changes alone.

The Real Reasons Autism Rates Are Up In The Us


A hard look at whether the rise comes from more awareness, better diagnosisor something else;

The;prevalence;of autism in the United States has risen steadily since researchers first began tracking it in 2000. The rise in the rate has sparked fears of an autism epidemic. But experts say the bulk of the increase stems from a growing awareness of autism and changes to the conditions diagnostic criteria.

Heres how researchers track autisms prevalence and explain its apparent rise.

How do clinicians diagnose autism?There is no blood test, brain scan or any other objective test that can diagnose autismalthough researchers are actively trying to develop such tests. Clinicians rely on observations of a persons behavior to diagnose the condition.

In the U.S., the criteria for diagnosing autism are laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . The criteria are problems with social communication and interactions, and restricted interests or;repetitive behaviors. Both of these core features must be present in early development.

What;is the prevalence of;autism in the U.S.?The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that;1 in 68children in the U.S. have autism. The prevalence is 1 in 42 for boys and 1 in 189 for girls. These rates yield a gender ratio of about five boys for every girl.

This article is reproduced with permission from;Spectrum. The article was;first published;on March 2, 2017.

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There Will Be An Even Larger Increase In 2020

The biannual announcement in 2018 of yet another increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder has practically become a new rite of spring.

At the start of the millennium, the rate of ASD reported by the US Centers for Disease Control was 1 in 150 and this rate remained steady for 2002. Then, starting in 2004, there have been increases announced every two years: 1 in 125 in 2004, 1 in 110 in 2006, 1 in 88 in 2008, 1 in 68 in 2010 and 2012.

Last week, the data for 2014 were announced, with another increase to 1 in 59. It is noteworthy that the CDC prevalence data are based on 8-year-old children, so that the 2014 data are for children born in 2006.

What in the world is going on? Why do the reported rates of autism keep rising? And, will they keep rising despite new programs designed to detect and treat it at increasingly younger ages?

Although scientists have not yet discovered what causes autism, a number of proposed causes have been disproven. For example, the popularized view that MMR vaccines cause autism is no longer a tenable “cause” and the article originally presenting the vaccines cause autism discovery by Andrew Wakefield was withdrawn under scandalous circumstances.,

Despite this, the view that vaccines cause autism persists and some point to the rise in autism as a reason to fear vaccinations. And, of course, the rate of autism keeps increasing.

Autisms Genetic Risk Factors

Research tells us that autism tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child will develop autism. If a parent carries one or more of these gene changes, they may get passed to a child . Other times, these genetic changes arise spontaneously in an early embryo or the sperm and/or egg that combine to create the embryo. Again, the majority of these gene changes do not cause autism by themselves. They simply increase risk for the disorder

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Apparent New Rise In Autism May Not Reflect True Prevalence

by Peter Hess;/;26 September 2019

Unexpected effects

New statistics on autism prevalence in the United States suggest a dramatic rise in the number of children with the condition. But it is unlikely that these numbers reflect a true rise in prevalence, experts say.

Autism prevalence in the U.S. rose from 1 in 91 children in 2009 to 1 in 40 in 2017, according to survey results published today in Pediatrics1. The condition is most often diagnosed in white children, those living in urban settings and those who have any government-funded insurance, the study also shows.

The results are based on telephone or in-person interviews with the parents of 88,530 children aged 3 to 17 years, collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of its National Health Interview Survey. The numbers are higher than the 1-in-59 prevalence that the CDC reported last year; that study analyzed health and education records from 2014 for children in 11 states generally considered to be more reliable than parent surveys.

A sizable portion of the increase is probably due to rising awareness of the condition and improved systems for identifying autistic children, says lead investigator Benjamin Zablotsky, health statistician at the CDC.

The way the survey phrases and places a question about autism asking parents whether a healthcare professional has ever told them their child has autism may also affect prevalence estimates, he says2.

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