By Ed Edelson
1 hour, 48 minutes ago
SUNDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- How widespread is autism? And is the condition, which centers on characteristics such as the inability to form personal relationships, being properly diagnosed?
New York City-based YAI-National Institute for People With Disabilities (YAI-NIPD) is a not-for-profit organization that not only assists families who have members with a variety of developmental disabilities, but also holds a series of conferences that highlight the latest research into specific conditions.
Earlier in May, YAI-NIPD held an autism conference that addressed the apparent increase in autism cases. One reason may be a broader definition of autism, said Dr. David Kaufman, medical director of Premier Healthcare, a Manhattan organization specializing in disability services.
"The estimate was one child in 166, made by the epidemiology unit of the [U.S. governments] National Institutes of Health," Kaufman said. "Now it is down to one in 150. I think that since the definition has been broadened, a lot of children are getting diagnosed who are at the milder end of the spectrum."
The cause of autism remains unclear, Kaufman said. "I believe that there is something in these children that predisposes them to autism and maybe something that triggers it, perhaps a viral illness, like children who get diabetes at an early age."
Whatever the cause, "the best treatment so far is diagnosing it early on and intervening early on, sometimes with medications," Kaufman said. "There is a broad array of early intervention services."
When a child's mysteriously detached behavior arouses parents suspicions, "the first line of defense is with the pediatrician," he said. "The child can be referred to a developmental pediatrician or pediatric neurologist or specialist who will do an evaluation and then send the child to a speech therapist, a language therapist or another therapist for treatment. The earlier you intervene, the better children do."
Financial help is often available from state governments, but "each state has different funding lines," Kaufman noted.
Children's basic medical needs should not be overlooked, Kaufman said. "Their medical needs are the same as anyone else, but it is harder to get at them," he said. "Once they get to age 2 or 4, they are able to tell the doctor what is wrong with them, but they are not as cooperative as another child might be."
Although there is a long way to go, "One thing that is being done right is an increased awareness of autism," said Dr. Eric Hollander, professor and chairman of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "It has become a priority funding issue for the National Institutes of Health. There are findings that directly impact on treatment and also can lead to a better understanding of the underlying causes."
One area that clearly has been neglected is autism in adults, Hollander said. "The high school or college population, the need for residential care is also there. Child psychiatrists and pediatricians will not necessarily be treating these individuals when they get older.
"And those who work with the older population don't have enough training. We need to know a lot more about intervention with medication, how it alters outcome, the repetitive behavior, the rigid behavior, and also new treatments for disruptive behavior."
What causes autism? Attention is being focused on oxytocin, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, Hollander said. It appears to play a role in social behavior and repetitive behavior. "Now we are starting to have a certain impact on symptoms by administering oxytocin in various forms, such as intravenously."
Attention also is being paid to environmental and genetic factors, Hollander said, "things in the environment that influence what genes are turned on and turned off. We need to know a lot more about environmental factors and how they play a role in some people with autism."
One indicator of how much remains to be learned is the widely differing rates of diagnosis of autism from state to state, Hollander said, but that is just part of the picture. "We don't have predictors of which individuals will respond to which kinds of treatment," he said, but ended on a hopeful note: "With additional funding, there will be more rapid breakthroughs."
Dr. Steven Lowe, the medical director of YAI-NIPD, added that autism treatment still is often a struggle. "It's a challenge, because so little work has been done in the management of patients with autism and also in mental retardation and developmental disabilities," he said. "There has been very limited work on management of such patients in the primary care area and very limited research. There is limited interest for primary health-care practitioners, because it is such a daunting prospect."
But there is impetus for progress from "parents and other caregivers and the media," Lowe said. "Among them, the issue of autism is better recognized, and it is less of a stigma. People with autism are becoming more visible. Caregivers are advocating for better access to the same sort of health care that disabled people are getting.
"There is a tremendous lack of formalized training in medicine appropriate to this patient population," Lowe added. "But there are providers out there -- institutions like our own take care of patients with mental disabilities, mainly through on-the-job training."
For families facing a problem, "my recommendation is to find a place that specializes in this patient population," Lowe said. "Look for a multidisciplinary system where everyone is comfortable with mental retardation or developmental disabilities such as autism. You need a large group of clinicians in various fields, the kind of team approach that has proven to be very effective."
Then there is the influence of other elements, such as diet. Dr. Joseph Levy, a pediatric gastroenterologist who is professor of pediatrics at the New York University School of Medicine, offers a theory that developmental disability is often literally a gut issue.
"There are a whole host of anecdotal reports about how particular diets have enabled children to make progress," Levy said. "Sooner or later, every parent will focus on the dimension of nutrition of child care and will experiment with it. For example, if there is aggressive or self-injurious behavior, the explanation is that the child has reflux irritation or difficulty with bowel movements."
The problem is that parental concentration on dietary factors means that they "sometimes are committed to thinking that autism is the manifestation of a leaky gut," Levy said. "But we don't know whether it is proven that autism is really a disease that affects the immune system in the gut, with toxins that are absorbed from the intestines."
It is necessary to work with nutritionists to be sure that children with autism get the proper micronutrients, but "autism is not one diagnosis, and this can put parents to great restrictions and might even be harmful," Levy said. "We do have to move forward the science that enables us to understand what is going on in the gut of the child.
Last edited by BlueAngel : 03-31-2015 at 11:34 AM.
autism is a very strange disorder, indeed the symptoms vary from person to person, although my guess is that it begins to form in the creation stage of the fetus (baby) meaning that the neurological process is somehow not able to complete itself in the formation of the baby.
there are many factors to blame, environment, vaccines from the mother, diet and nutrition, and even the very air we breathe.
autism is a very strange disorder, indeed the symptoms vary from person to person, although my guess is that it begins to form in the creation stage of the fetus (baby) meaning that the neurological process is somehow not able to complete itself in the formation of the baby.
there are many factors to blame, environment, vaccines from the mother, diet and nutrition, and even the very air we breathe.
Your guess is that AUTISM is formed in the creation stage of the fetus through vaccinations that the mother received and NOT the father.
Why not the father?
You also believe there are outside influencing factors once the fetus is is born such as diet, nutrition and the air we breathe.
If this is the case, why has AUTISM been predicted to afflict 1 in 150 children in the future, but not in the past?
Why would it be due to vaccinations the mother received?
Are they tainted?
Why diet, nutrition, air we breathe now and not in the past?
Are they tainted?
>>>Your guess is that AUTISM is formed in the creation stage of the fetus through vaccinations that the mother received and NOT the father.
Why not the father?<<<
just my guess!
>>>You also believe there are outside influencing factors once the fetus is is born such as diet, nutrition and the air we breathe.
If this is the case, why has AUTISM been predicted to afflict 1 in 150 children in the future, but not in the past?<<<
the entire american medical asociation is quackery! thus nothing they say can be trusted with any degree. if they predict those numbers it's because the chemtrails have increased, and the vaccines are becoming more lethal (secretly.)
remember, they want depopulation period!
it does'nt take a rocket scientist to figure out the world is going to hell in a handbasket!
Dave Mihalovic,*Prevent DiseaseWaking TimesThe CDC has been shunning the correlations between thimerosal and neurological disorders for a very long time. Although the FDA gave a two year deadline to remove the mercury based preservative from vaccines after the neurotoxin was banned in 1999, it still remains to this day in*60 percent of flu vaccines. A vaccine industry watchdog has now obtained CDC documents that show statistically significant risks of autism associated with the vaccine preservative, something the CDC denies even when confronted with their own data.For nearly ten years, Brian Hooker has been requesting documents that are kept under tight wraps by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His more than 100 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests have resulted in copious evidence that the vaccine preservative*Thimerosal,*which is still used in the flu shot that is administered to pregnant women and infants, can cause autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.Dr. Hooker, a PhD scientist, worked with two members of Congress to craft the letter to the CDC that recently resulted in his obtaining long-awaited data from the CDC, the significance of which is historic. According to Hooker, the data on over 400,000 infants born between 1991 and 1997, which was analyzed by CDC epidemiologist Thomas Verstraeten, MD, “proves unequivocally that in 2000, CDC officials were informed internally of the very high risk of autism, non-organic sleep disorder and speech disorder associated with Thimerosal exposure.”
Factually, thimerosal is a mercury-containing compound that is a known human carcinogen, mutagen, teratogen and immune-system disruptor at levels below 1 part-per-million, and a compound to which some humans can have an anaphylactic shock reaction. It is also a recognized reproductive and fetal toxin with*no established toxicologically safe level of exposure for humans.In November, 1997, the U.S. Congress passed the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act, requiring the study of mercury content in FDA-approved products. The review disclosed the hitherto-unrecognized levels of ethylmercury in vaccines.*In July 1999, public-health officials announced that thimerosal would be phased out of vaccines. The CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, and FDA insisted that the measure was purely precautionary. They requested of all vaccine manufacturers to eliminate mercury from vaccines.The requests were denied by vaccine manufacturers and continued every year thereafter.The FDA does not require ingredients that comprise less than 1 percent of a product to be divulged on the label, so*a lot more products may have thimerosal and consumers will never know.
Elevated Risk of Autism
When the results of the Verstraeten study were first reported outside the CDC in 2005, there was no evidence that anyone but Dr. Verstraeten within the CDC had known of the very high 7.6-fold elevated relative risk of autism from exposure to Thimerosal during infancy. But now, clear evidence exists. A newly-acquired*abstract*from 1999 titled, “Increased risk of developmental neurologic impairment after high exposure to Thimerosal containing vaccine in first month of life” required the approval of top CDC officials prior to its presentation at the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) conference. Thimerosal, which is 50% mercury by weight, was used in most childhood vaccines and in the RhoGAM shot for pregnant women prior to the early 2000s.The CDC maintains there is “no relationship between Thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism rates in children,” even though the data from the CDC’s own Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) database shows a very high risk. There are a number of public records to back this up, including this*Congressional Record from May 1, 2003. The CDC’s refusal to acknowledge thimerosal’s risks is exemplified by a leaked statement from Dr. Marie McCormick, chair of the CDC/NIH-sponsored Immunization Safety Review at IOM. Regarding vaccination, she said in 2001, “…we are not ever going to come down that it [autism] is a true side effect…” Also of note, the former director of the CDC, which purchases $4 billion worth of vaccines annually, is now president of Merck’s vaccine division.
Toxic Effects of Thimerosal No Longer Disputed by Scientific Study
Thimerosal-Derived Ethylmercury in vaccines is now well*established as a mitochondrial toxin in human brain cells.There are*dozens of scientific inquiries and studies on the adverse effects of thimerosal, including gastrointestinal abnormalities and immune system irregularities.Thimerosal, is metabolized (converted) into the toxic and “harmful” methylmercury. And then in turn, the harmful methylmercury is metabolized (converted) into the most harmful, long-term-toxic, “inorganic” mercury that is retained in bodily tissue.“Inorganic” mercury is the end product of mercury metabolism. Methylmercury subject groups confirm that the metabolic pathway for mercury in the human and animal body consists in the reduction/conversion of the harmful methylmercury into a more harmful “inorganic” mercury which is tissue-bound, and long-term-toxic. Hence, both the originating substance (methylmercury) and its conversion/reduction, inorganic mercury are found.Based on*published findings by Dr. Paul King, the metabolic pathway for organic mercury involves the conversion of Ethylmercury (Thimerosal) into “methylmercury” and then the further reduction of “methylmercury” into inorganic mercury.Congress Must Act*Dr. Hooker’s fervent hope for the future: “We must ensure that this and other evidence of CDC malfeasance are presented to Congress and the public as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence. Children’s futures are at stake.” A divide within the autism community has led to some activists demanding that compensation to those with vaccine-injury claims be the top priority before Congress. Dr. Hooker maintains that prevention, “protecting our most precious resource — children’s minds,” must come first. “Our elected officials must be informed about government corruption that keeps doctors and patients in the dark about vaccine risks.”Referring to an organization that has seen its share of controversy this past year, Dr. Hooker remarked, “It is unfortunate that SafeMinds issued a press release on my information, is accepting credit for my work and has not supported a worldwide ban on Thimerosal.”Brian Hooker, PhD, PE, has 15 years experience in the field of bioengineering and is an associate professor at Simpson University where he specializes in biology and chemistry. His over 50 science and engineering papers have been published in internationally recognized, peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Hooker has a son, aged 16, who developed normally but then regressed into autism after receiving Thimerosal-containing vaccines.
42% of Drug Reactions Are Vaccine Related, Groundbreaking Chinese Study Finds
by Sayer JiA -groundbreaking new drug safety study published in the open access journal*PLoS*and titled, "Adverse Drug Reactions of Spontaneous Reports in Shanghai Pediatric Population," has revealed for the first that that 42.5% of all reported adverse drug reactions occurring in 2009 in a Chinese pediatric population (Shanghai, pop of 17 mil) were caused by vaccines, with reactions as severe as anaphylaxis and death.The report carries unique gravitas insofar as the data was gathered through spontaneous reports of physicians (52.03%), pharmacists (24.27%) and other health care practitioners (15.46%), with only 2.52% coming from 'consumers.' Presumably, the clinical training of those reporting gives the study additional credibility.According to the study, which is one of the first ever conducted on the topic in China, "Knowledge of drug safety in the pediatric population of China is limited. This study was designed to evaluate ADRs in children reported to the spontaneous reporting system (SRS) of Shanghai in 2009."
The results of the study were reported as follows:
A male overrepresentation was observed regarding the total number of reports. The most frequently reported group of drugs were vaccines (42.15%). Skin rash and fever were the commonest symptoms reported in the total pediatric dataset. The proportion of children that suffered from a serious ADR was 2.16% and that for drug related deaths was 0.34%. And we found that the multiple drug exposure experienced a high proportion of serious ADRs compared with the single drug use (χ215.99, P<0.0001). Sixty-five percent of ADRs were for children less than 6 years of age. And more than half of reports were from doctors.
According to the study, the World Health Organization defines adverse drug reaction (ADRs) "...as events related to a medication that are noxious, unintended and occur at normal doses used in humans for prophylaxis, diagnosis or therapy of disease, or for modification of physiological function."* Their definition excludes accidental or deliberate excessive dosage or maladministration. The global problem with ADRs is so serious that, according to the study, "ADRs are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in many countries*,*." *Indeed, a 1998 report*published in*JAMAfound that 106,000 Americans die every year from*correctlyprescribed medications.The study results showed concerning patterns, across both age and gender.
The Younger The More Susceptible To Harm:"When the data were assessed in terms of age groups, almost two thirds of ADRs were reported for children from birth to 5 years of age (65.01%) and 39.46% concerned children aging 2 months-2 years." Furthermore, "The highest proportion (6.58%) of serious reports was reported for newborn (0–1 month)."The Males Were More Susceptible Than Females:*In general, a total of 1790 ADRs (40.41%) and 2640 ADRs (59.59%) were reported for female and male patients, respectively.
In interpreting the results, one explanation offered by the authors for the fact that 50% of the ADRs were reported for children from birth to 5 years of age, with close to 40% affecting children between 2 months and 2 years of age, was "Children under 5 were the most common age group for vaccination."
They expanded on this explanation further:
The ADR rate causes by vaccine is much higher than other drugs, and this may be related to the types and number of vaccination being used in China, as the types of routine immunization vaccines in China reach up to 15 kinds, which is much higher than 7 kinds in India and Vietnam, 9 kinds in Thailand and 11 kinds in America, and most of the vaccines in China are attenuated live vaccines, which may bring greater potential safety hazard.
The Chinese vaccination schedule, including over a dozen different vaccines, illustrates a common problem surrounding multiple exposures associated with 'polypharmacy,' where it is nearly impossible to ascertain the synergistic toxicities and adverse interactions occurring as a result of simultaneous exposures to multiple vaccines or pharmaceutical agents.They expand on this point further:
With the seemingly constant flow of new therapeutic agents and new treatment indications for existing medications, polypharmacy is increasingly common,*. Drug-drug interactions (DDI) occur when two or more drugs are taken in combination and one drug influences the effects of another drug. This may subsequently cause a change in the pharmacodynamic or pharmacokinetic parameters which may lead to lack of efficacy, or to an increase in the number of reported adverse drug reactions. The association between multiple drug exposure and the incidence of ADRs has been studied, consistently showing an exponentially increased risk with the increase of the number of drugs taken*,*. When assessing the severity of the reported ADRs, our study confirmed that multiple drug exposure experienced a high proportion compared with the single drug use. This finding indicate that in order to minimize the risk of serious ADRs, HCPs should pay particular attention to children who are prescribed two drugs or more.
Recently,*Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD, commented on one of the fundamental flaws of present day vaccination schedules, namely, multiple vaccine safety has never been studied, nor proven:***
The current schedule has never been studied – not one vaccine in a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated design, let alone multiple delivered at once, or the entire long-term effects of 49 doses of 14 vaccines by age 6.
What we do know is that countries like the U.S. have one of the highest infant mortality rates (IMRs) in the developed world (33 nations have lower IMRs), while at the same time having the most infant vaccines in the world (26 vaccine doses for infants aged less than 1 year).* This can no longer be written off as 'coincidental.' [see SAGE study on the topic]We believe this latest Chinese study represents one of the first signs of an awakening within the Chinese research and medical community to the fact that despite being promoted as a medical 'holy water,' the very heart of the miracle of modern medicine, vaccines – especially in the very young – are causing severe adverse health effects, many of which outweigh their purported benefits.Moreover, considering that this report (like most adverse vaccine events) only looked at acute adverse health effects, as we learn more about theautoimmunity generating properties of vaccines, and other chronic health issues associated with the presence of*'hidden' pathogenic viruses*in the live and attenuated vaccines most commonly used in China and the underdeveloped or developing world, we believe this latest study represents the tip of the iceberg as far as the real adverse health effects associated with the increasingly doubtful 'preventive' measure of vaccination.To learn more about the fatal flaws in the science of vaccinology, read our recent article on the topic:http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/why...rent-paleoThis article first appeared atGreenMedInfo.* Please visit to access their vast database of articles and the latest information in natural health.*
powerful new study on the failure of mammograms to protect women against breast cancer, curiously absent from mainstream news health reporting, was published this month in*The European Journal of Public Health, and is forcing the scientific and medical community, policy makers and the public at large to ask the question: can the now worldwide practice of mass breast screenings in healthy (asymptomatic) populations be justified when they*increase the incidence of localized stage 'cancers' without reducing the incidence of advanced cancers?Titled, "Trends in breast cancer stage distribution before, during and after introduction of a screening programme in Norway," the study found that based on a population sample of 1.8 million Norwegian women, diagnosed with breast cancer 1987-2010,
The annual incidence of localized breast cancer among women aged 50–69 years rose from 63.9 per 100 000 before the introduction of screening to 141.2 afterwards, corresponding to a ratio of 2.21 (95% confidence interval: 2.10; 2.32).*The incidence of more advanced cancers increased from 86.9 to 117.3 per 100 000 afterwards, corresponding to a 1.35 (1.29; 1.42)-fold increase.*Advanced cancers also increased among younger women not eligible for screening, whereas their incidence of localized cancers remained nearly constant." [emphasis added]
In other words, enrollment in Norway's breast screening program increased the chance of being diagnosed with an early-stage breast 'cancer' diagnoses by 221%, and more disturbingly, increased the chance of being diagnosed with an advanced (lethal) breast cancer by 35% -- exactly opposite what would be expected if the mammograms were actually catching malignant tumors early, which would imply the incidence of the more lethal, late stage cancers*would be lower and not higher. (see: see scientist's description of how breast cancer overdiagnosis occurs onGreenMedTV.com)The study concluded with the following summarization:
Conclusion:*Incidence of localized breast cancer increased significantly among women aged 50–69 years old after introduction of screening, while the incidence of more advanced cancers was not reduced in the same period when compared to the younger unscreened age group."
While not discussed in depth within the article, their results indicate that breast screening causes profound numbers of overdiagnosis, and because of the 'overtreatment' (and mistreatment) that results from this, produces excess morbidity and mortality in screened women as a result. Indeed, one of the most dramatic revelations of our time occurred last year when a*National Cancer Institute commissioned expert panel*concluded that so-called 'early stage cancers' such as*Ductal Carcinoma In Situ*(DCIS) are not cancer at all, but benign or indolent growths. This implies that millions of women were wrongly diagnosed with 'breast cancer' over the past 30 years who would have been better off left undiagnosed and untreated.
Does Breast Screening Really 'Save Lives'? If So, Prove It
The oft-touted belief that 'breast screening saves lives,' or that the best form of 'prevention is through early detection,' has increasingly been challenged by the very peer-reviewed and published research – the "scientific evidence" -- that forms the only real justification for foisting them upon women.* These viral memes, now driving millions of women to subject themselves to*breast cancer causing diagnostic radiation*(see:*dangers of x-ray mammography*on our database), are no longer founded in anything more than the marketing copy of the industries that stand to profit greatly from the process of screening and treating breast 'cancers,' regardless of whether they are benign and indolent (like DCIS), or actually a cause for concern. (see:*The Dark Side of Breast Cancer Awareness Month)Only last month, we reported on the latest*British Medical Journal*study,[i]*involving 90,000 Canadian women, which compared breast cancer incidence and mortality up to 25 years in women aged 40-59 who did or did not undergo mammography screening.* The clear conclusion of the*25-year follow up study*was that regular mammogram screenings do not reduce breast cancer death rates, i.e. taken as a whole,*they don't save lives.This new study, therefore, is actually only confirming what a growing body of virtually unassailable evidence is telling us, and which our contributing writer Rolf Hefti, author of*The Mammogram Myth*(non-affiliate link), summarizes as follows:
The findings of this study corroborate copious previous research data I had documented in The Mammogram Myth that screening with mammography detects mostly indolent, low-grade "cancers" and misses much of the progressive fatal cancers, contradicting a main claim of benefit heavily disseminated by the medical-mammogram industry.In addition, the study's results suggest, again, that screening with mammography will lead to a lot of unnecessary invasive cancer treatments in women with innocuous, early-stage breast "cancer" due to overdiagnosis, while many women with aggressive advanced cancers, who presumably have the most need for these treatments, don't get them."
Like*so many other studies*that have been released on the topic of mammography's failure to produce a net benefit in screened populations, there are far deeper implications to women's physical and psychospiritual health that should be addressed. These include the following, excerpted from our article:*Fail: Another Mammography Study Finds They Don't Save Lives: *
Autism rates climbed nearly 30% between 2008 and 2010 and have more than doubled since the turn of the century, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition is now believed to affect one of every 68 8-year-olds – up from one in 88 just two years earlier.
That means virtually every grade in every elementary school has at least one child with autism – a seemingly astonishing rise for a condition that was nearly unheard of a generation ago.
What's still unknown is the driver of that increase. Many experts believe the rise is largely due to better awareness and diagnosis rather than a true increase in the number of children with the condition.
"We don't know the extent those factors explain in terms of the increase, but we clearly know they do play a role," said Coleen Boyle, director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC. "Our system tells us what's going on. It (only) gives us clues as to the why."
The aging of parents is also known to be a factor; the chances of autism increase with the age of parents at conception.
"But that's not the whole story is it?" said Robert Ring, chief science officer for Autism Speaks, a research and advocacy group. Whether something in the environment could be causing the uptick remains "the million-dollar question," Ring said.
Despite their concern, experts said they were not surprised by the increase, because other data had suggested the numbers would continue to climb. In New Jersey, for instance, autism rates were 50% higher than in the rest of the nation in 2000, and they remained that much higher in 2010 – suggesting the national rates will continue to rise to catch up, said Walter Zahorodny, a psychologist who directs the New Jersey Autism Study. "To me it seems like autism prevalence can only get higher," he said.
The new study also showed that blacks continue to lag behind whites and Hispanics in diagnoses. Zahorodny, also an assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said the gap has persisted for so long that he thinks it may be real – that blacks may be less vulnerable to autism for some unknown reason. Others are quicker to blame lack of medical access for the difference.
"We know that there are significant under-diagnosis problems in minority communities and among women and girls," said Ari Ne'eman, a member of the National Council on Disability and president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. The group tries to empower autistic people to advocate for themselves. The new CDC numbers show five times more boys with autism than girls. The girls and blacks who have intellectual disabilities as well as autism are getting counted, but the smarter kids are not, said Ne'eman, who has autism himself. "Many of the cases that are easier to miss are being missed in those populations."
To be diagnosed on autism spectrum, someone must have deficits in three areas: communications, social skills and typical behavior. Roughly one-third of the children in the CDC study also had intellectual deficits, with the remainder showing normal or above-average intelligence.
To come up with its new figures, the CDC reviewed medical and school records from 2010 at 11 different sites across the country. There is a huge range in autism prevalence across those sites, from one child in 175 found with autism in Alabama, to one in 46 in New Jersey. Boyle said the difference may be explained, at least in part, by differences in community resources for identifying and serving children with autism. Other reporting sites were in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.
The CDC has used the same method to determine autism prevalence every two years since 2000, showing a 120% increase in autism rates between 2000 and 2010.
The average age a child is diagnosed with autism has fallen, but remains above age 4 – though diagnosis is possible by age 2. Research suggests that the earlier a child with autism receives therapy the better the chance of limiting their deficits.
The message to parents is that if they have concerns about their child's early play, speech or movement, they should raise those concerns with with doctors and caregivers, Boyle said.
Prevalence rates quickly become fodder for politics. Several members of Congress and advocacy groups took the opportunity Thursday to promote continued funding for autism treatment and research. The $780 million Combatting Autism Act is currently up for renewal.
"This is a loud message to people in Washington that we need leadership here," said Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks. "A national strategy that addresses all the needs of the autism community across the lifespan is what is needed now more than ever."
Others criticized the suggestion that the rising numbers reflect an "epidemic" of autism. Instead, Ne'eman argued: "Autism is something that we're born with, that always existed."
U.S. autism rates up 30% in two years; N.J. is highest in study
A new federal report shows yet another increase in the percentage of children with autism, with New Jersey having the highest rate of 11 states studied.
The report, released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 1 in 68 children had autism in the regions studied, which were not representative of the country as a whole. In New Jersey, long a hotbed of the diagnosis, the rate was 1 in 45.
The disorder is almost five times more common in boys than in girls.
The rates, based on 2010 data, were up 30 percent from two years earlier. They have more than doubled both nationwide and in New Jersey since the first report was done in 2000. The CDC estimates that 1.2 million people under the age of 21 are on the autism spectrum.
Walter Zahorodny, an epidemiologist and psychologist at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who directed data collection in New Jersey, said the new report should put to rest the argument over whether the increase in autism diagnoses stems from growing awareness or reflects growing numbers of children with the disabling condition.
"It's a true increase," he said. "It's a change of great magnitude. It's silly to go on debating that." He expects the numbers to climb higher before they plateau.
Jennifer Pinto-Martin, an epidemiologist in the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing who worked on previous versions of the report, is not so sure. While the CDC has been using the same definition for many years, she said, changing attitudes have made it easier to get the diagnosis.
Both agreed that one reason New Jersey's numbers are high is that the state has particularly good record-keeping and services.
At a CDC briefing for reporters on Thursday, Coleen Boyle, director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, sidestepped the "why" question by saying there is evidence that some of the increase is due to changes in diagnosis without elaborating on what is responsible for the rest of it.
The report, which is based on 2010 data, looked at the prevalence of autism among 8-year-olds in parts of 11 states. Overall, 14.7 out of every 1,000 children had an autism spectrum disorder. The part of New Jersey studied - Essex, Union, Hudson and Ocean counties - had 21.9. A similar report based on 2000 and 2002 data put the New Jersey rate at almost half that: 10.6 per 1,000.
Pennsylvania was not included in the most recent report. Pinto-Martin said it dropped out because researchers were unable to get education data, which is used to augment information from health-care providers. The four states included in Thursday's report that did not have school data all had lower autism rates than states that gave the CDC access to more information.
Nationally, the rate per 1,000 was 6.7 in 2000, 8.0 in 2004, 9 in 2006 and 11.3 in 2008.
Symptoms for people who are on the autism spectrum can range from mild to severe. The disorder is characterized by communication problems, obsessional interests and repetitive movements. Diagnosis is based on symptoms, not a medical test. The median age of diagnosis is about 4-1/2 years.
In successive reports over time, a growing proportion of children characterized as autistic have been of normal intelligence. Thirty-two percent were average or above in 2002, compared to 46 percent in 2010, the new report said.
The official description of autism changed last year when a new verson of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, was published. The new CDC report used the old definition. Some autism advocates are concerned that the new definition will reduce the number of children with the diagnosis, leaving fewer kids eligible for special services.
The symptoms of autism may not be obvious until a child is a toddler, but the disorder itself appears to begin well before birth.
Brain tissue taken from children who died and also happened to have autism revealed patches of disorganization in the cortex, a thin sheet of cells that's critical for learning and memory, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Tissue samples from children without autism didn't have those characteristic patches.
Organization of the cortex begins in the second trimester of pregnancy. "So something must have gone wrong at or before that time," says Eric Courchesne, an author of the paper and director of the Autism Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego.
The finding should bolster efforts to understand how genes control brain development and lead to autism. It also suggests that treatment should start early in childhood, when the brain is capable of rewiring to work around damaged areas.
The study grew out of research by Courchesne on development of the cortex in children with autism. In typical kids, the cortex is "like a layer cake," he says. "There are six layers, one on top of the other, and in each layer there are different types of brain cells."
Courchesne suspected that these layers might be altered in the brains of children with autism. So he and a team of researchers studied samples of cortex from 11 children with autism and an equal number of typical kids. The cortex came from areas known to be associated with the symptoms of autism.
In the brain tissue from typical children, the cortex had six distinct layers, each made up of a specific type of cell. But in the children with autism, "there are patches in which specific cells in specific layers seem to be missing," Courchesne says. So instead of distinct layers, there are disorganized collections of brain cells.
These patches of disorganized cortex would have different effects on the brain depending on where they occur and how many there are, Courchesne says. That could help explain why the symptoms of autism vary so much.
And finding that the damage isn't everywhere suggests how a child's brain might compensate by rewiring to avoid the trouble spots, Courchesne says. "That's one of our guesses about how it is that autistic children, with treatment, very commonly get better," he says.
The new study appears to confirm research from the University of California, Los Angeles showing that people with autism tend to have genetic changes that could disturb the formation of layers in the cortex.
And it adds to the already considerable evidence that autism starts in the womb, says Dr. Stanley Nelson, a geneticist at UCLA. "The overwhelming set of data is that the problems are existing during brain development, probably as an embryo or fetus," he says.
But some of the new study's findings are surprising and even a bit perplexing, Nelson says. For example, it's odd that only certain bits of brain tissue contain these disorganized cells. "Why is the whole cortex not disorganized?" he says.
It's also odd that 10 of the 11 children with autism had the same sort of disorganized patches of cortex, Nelson says. That's not what you would expect with a disorder known to involve many different genes, presumably affecting many different aspects of brain development.
So he'd like to know what researchers would find if they looked at hundreds of brains instead of just a few. "What fraction of all the kids with autism are going to have these small patches?" he says. "I think the jury's out on that."
Nelson is right that there's no clear answer yet, says Ed Lein, one of the paper's authors and an investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. But it's possible that many different combinations of genes involved in autism could lead to the same patches of disorganization in the layers of cortex.
Finding out whether that's the case will be difficult because there is a shortage of brains from children available to researchers. Parents of children who die — with and without autism — rarely agree to donate their child's brain to science.
Scientific and advocacy groups are trying to change that with a program that informs families about tissue donation and a website that encourages people with autism and their families to get involved in research projects.