Autism increase mystery solved: No, it’s not vaccines, GMOs glyphosate–or organic foods


Original post from Genetic Literacy Project

‘…………….By Autism_A_399992-257x300

The number of autism cases has skyrocketed in the past few decades. In the 1970s and 1980s, about 1 out of every 2,000 children had autism. Today, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 150 8-year-olds in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. This expanded definition refers not only to autism but also to a collection of brain development disorders such as Asperger’s syndrome.

It’s been considered a medical puzzle. Mothers, and frankly all of us, are understandably concerned.  Considering the numbers, it’s reasonable to ask: What’s causing the rise in cases.

Now researchers believe they know: Almost certainly, nothing. Most of the rise in autism is a statistical mirage.

That’s not the answer you’d find if the Internet is your medical guide. There are literally thousands of articles and hundreds of organizations blaming one thing or another, from vaccines, GMOs and pesticides to evenelectromagnetic fieldsWi-Fi signalschemtrails and residential proximity to freeways. Scare headlines are everywhere. Posts like “How I Gave My Son Autism” tell stories of perfectly capable mothers blaming themselves for their child being diagnosed autistic.

Earlier this week on the Genetic Literacy Project we highlighted a claim that’s raging through cyberspace blaming autism’s rise on the herbicide glyphosate, which is frequently paired with GMO crops. According to an MIT computer scientist with no background in agriculture, genetics or epidemiology, half the country’s children will be born with autism by the mid 2020s because of the increased use of genetically modified crops. Articles carrying that claim registered millions of hits.

On the surface, some of these claims seem plausible. After all, the rise in the incidence of autism does track the rise in glyphosphate use–if you ignore its heavy usage for 20 years (since 1974) before GMOs were introduced (in 1994), when autism rates held steady.

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But correlation is not causation. By cherry-picking the data, one could show that all of the alleged causes of autism, even the increase in chemtrails caused by soaring jet traffic, correlate with the rise in autism cases. As, in fact, does the rise in organic foods.

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Because many of the reasons for the increased incidence are unknown, autism has become the defacto target for individuals and groups who have little else to point at. As much as the radical fringes of the organic food and everything-natural industries blame Big Ag and Big Pharma for the dramatic rise in autism, they are deftly making the most out of the situation monetarily as well.

So what does the latest evidence show? There now is intriguing evidence that there in fact has been no dramatic rise in autism after all. According to a just-released study, scientists at the Aarhus University, in Aarhus, Denmark assessed more than 670,000 children born between 1980 and 1991 in Denmark, following them from their birth until they were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, died, emigrated or reached the end of the study period which was December 2011. Among other things, Denmark is renowned for its excellent national medical records system, which allowed them to conduct a study of this magnitude and over the extended time span. Among the population studied, 4,000 children were diagnosed as being along the autism spectrum and many of these diagnoses were made after 1995.

Look at what happened just before that detected increase. Tara Haelle reports in Forbes

In Denmark in particular, the diagnostic criteria for autism expanded in 1994 to include a spectrum of disorders with a broader list of symptoms, thereby widening the definition of autism. Then in 1995, national data tracking began to include diagnoses made from outpatient patient visits rather than just diagnoses of those admitted to a healthcare facility.

The exact same thing has happened in every country that has seen soaring autism rates–the definition of what constitutes autism was dramatically expanded in the early 1990s to embrace the catch-all term Autism Spectrum Disorder–correlating with when GMO usage, chemtrail rates, pesticide exposure and organic food sales began a sharp increase.

The researchers discovered that the change in diagnostic criteria taken together along with the diagnoses made outside of a healthcare facility accounted for as much as 60 percent of the increase in prevalence of autism spectrum disorders. The authors of the study conclude thus

Changes in reporting practices can account for most (60 percent) of the increase in the observed prevalence of ASDs in children born from 1980 through 1991 in Denmark. Hence, the study supports the argument that the apparent increase in ASDs in recent years is in large part attributable to changes in reporting practices.

Though this in itself doesn’t mean evidence of a lack of increase in the prevalence of autism, it does say very emphatically that the huge uptick in numbers of autistic children diagnosed have more to do with how we diagnose the condition than an actual increase.

The idea that increased diagnosis contributes to higher prevalence of a disease is not new at all. In fact it is quite common especially as new diagnostic techniques come into play and early screening programs are put in place by governments. This often leads to debates in the medical literature about whether increases in prevalence of disease are real or due to an increase in diagnosis. Prostate cancer is a common example –incidence for prostate cancer jumped over 100 percent from 1986 to 1992 which coincided with an aggressive expansion of the prostate cancer screening program based on the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test which was approved by the FDA in 1986.

The result of the autism study, even if somewhat expected is still very important. The quality of Denmark’s health records and the size of the study make it unique –it makes the data extremely robust and reliable. So how do these results translate to the United States? We do have similarities in how the diagnosis has changed writes Tara Haelle in Forbes

The way autism is defined in the U.S. has changed dramatically since 1980, when it first appeared in the DSM-III as “Infantile Autism” and could only be diagnosed in children whose symptoms began before they were three years old. Autism spectrum disorders have expanded to include diagnosis without a specific age requirement beyond the “early developmental period” and without requiring significant language impairment in the recently revised DSM-5.

The vast majority of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders today would never have qualified under the 1980 classification, and no formal classification separate from schizophrenia existed before then. So it’s not surprising that numbers have increased in the U.S.

There are many possible causes why there is an increase in the prevalence of a disease. Apart from increased screening and changes in diagnostic criteria, factors like increased awareness will also come into play. As credible scientific efforts around the world continue to identify genetic and/or environmental causes behind autism, it is prudent to not be taken in by wild claims and give in to the fears spread by those who accept and promote pseudoscience. And no, the Wi-Fi in your house or the genetically modified foods you eat will not lead to your child becoming autistic.

Arvind Suresh is a science communicator and a former laboratory biologist. Follow him @suresh_arvind

Additional Resources

Is Gardasil the Vaccine Destined to Destroy Your Child’s Life?


The Vaccine Blog

In all likelihood, your child can get an HPV vaccine and be fine. Listen, life doesn’t come with guarantees, so A THING could happen after your son or daughter gets the HPV shot, but the most likely thing would be an auto accident (not at all caused by the vaccine). I’m also not a science person, so my explanations will be mostly devoid of scientific explanation, but I will link you to actual science and scientists.

Many people want you to be afraid of the HPV vaccine. For otherwise happily vaccinating parents, the HPV vaccine is the gateway to the anti-vaccine movement the way they might fear hand-holding and french kissing is the gateway to early sexual exploration and orgies. (Speaking of french kissing–did you know that HPV can be transmitted that way?) And not coincidentally, parents’ fears of their children’s sexual awakening is sometimes tied to their fears…

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A horrifying reminder of what life without vaccines was really like


Original post from Washington Post

‘…………By Ana Swanson


ca. 1955 — A patient suffering from infantile paralysis reads a comic book attached to the rim of his iron lung. The iron lung maintains breathing for the patient by operating his lungs. — Image by Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

“The patient is placed on the sliding bed, shoved into the cabinet and the shield tightly locked. A rubber collar, which fits so snugly that almost no air can pass, is adjusted about the patient’s neck. A switch is turned, and the cabinet begins its work.”

This is how a 1930 article in “Popular Mechanics” described an “an artificial lung on wheels.” Better known as a tank respirator or iron lung, the machine pictured above was once a cutting-edge and living saving treatment for victims of polio. And it is a chilling reminder of what life without vaccines looks like — and why we should worry about efforts to prevent kids from getting the shots they protect them, and other children, from diseases like measles.

As it progresses through the body, the polio virus paralyzes muscle groups, ultimately leaving patients unable to breathe on their own. Children stricken with polio would spend weeks or months lying in the iron lung, reading, watching TV, or just staring at an upside-down image of the room reflected through a mirror above their heads. Most patients who progressed to this stage died, but with the help of the iron lung, some survived. There was no treatment for polio at the time, beyond trying to live through it.

The iron lung, devised by Philip Drinker and Louis Agassiz Shaw at Harvard in 1927, was originally powered by an electric motor and vacuum cleaners. A patient would sit with their body inside a sealed-air-tight compartment, in which the air pressure would change to pull air in and out of the patients’ lungs.

Polio was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th Century, cripplingmore than 35,000 people in the U.S. each year on average between the late 1940s and the early 1950s. As polio vaccinations became more common in the 1950s, polio gradually disappeared, and the iron lung went along with it.

But these photos are still a startling record of a not-so-distant past — and a reminder not to take vaccination for granted.

It might seem odd that we’re still arguing about vaccination – a quick glance at history shows vaccination’s incredible social benefits, and no scientific research has never supported the primary argument of vaccination opponents, that vaccines cause autism. The one 1998 paper that did support such a connection between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism was retracted from the public record. Yet myths about the harms of vaccination persist, especially online, and the past year has seen a sudden surge in measles cases as parents, particularly in California, chose not to get their children vaccinated.

In April, a new study was published that should end this debate once and for all. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a studyof nearly 100,000 children in which researchers found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorders — even among children who had autistic siblings and thus a higher risk for the disorders.

In rare cases, some vaccines can cause adverse effects – such as anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction. But beyond this, vaccines cause very few health problems (and autism is not one of them). The far greater danger is the illnesses that they are designed to protect us against – diseases that ravaged America not so many decades ago.

(h/t Lindsey Fitzharris)

You might also like:

A powerful reddit thread reveals what it’s like to have a disability

California’s epidemic of vaccine denial, mapped

A shocking number of mentally ill Americans end up in prison instead of treatment

    Ana Swanson writes for Know More and Wonkblog.  ………..’

One More Study Shows Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism


Original post from NBC News

‘………….BY MAGGIE FOX

Another study aimed at soothing the fears of some parents shows that vaccines don’t cause autism.

This one takes a special look at children with older siblings diagnosed with autism, who do themselves have a higher risk of an autism spectrum disorder. But even these high-risk kids aren’t more likely to develop autism if they’re vaccinated, according to the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“We found that there was no harmful association between receipt of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and development of autism spectrum disorder,” said Dr. Anjali Jain of The Lewin Group, a health consulting group in Falls Church, Virginia, who led the study.

“We found that there was no harmful association between receipt of the MMR vaccine and development of autism spectrum disorder.”

Kids who had older brothers or sisters with autism were less likely to be vaccinated on time themselves, probably because their parents had vaccine worries. But those who were vaccinated were no more likely than the unvaccinated children to develop autism, Jain’s team found.

Autism is very common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in 68 U.S. kids has an autism spectrum disorder.

Numbers have been growing but CDC says much of this almost certainly reflects more awareness and diagnosis of kids who would have been missed in years past.

Although fears grew 15-20 years ago that vaccines might cause autism, research backing up these worries has been discredited and study after study since then has shown no link. The Institute of Medicine, an independent group that advises the U.S. government on health matters, has strongly advised that researchers stop wasting time looking at vaccines and look elsewhere for the causes of autism.

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Most research shows genes are strongly involved, and some studies suggest the DNA flaws that cause autism often arise randomly. But fears persist about vaccines. The most recent fallout: a measles outbreak that started at California’s Disneyland that infected 147 people in the U.S., including 131 in California.

CDC said unvaccinated people were the source.

Many vaccine-averse parents argue that while vaccines might be harmless to most kids, their own children have a particular susceptibility. Jain set out to see if this might be the case.

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The Lewin Group looked at more than 95,000 children covered by health insurance who were born between 2001 and 2007. As expected, kids with an older sibling who had an autism spectrum disorder were more likely to have autism — about 7 percent of them did. And they were less likely to have been given an MMR vaccine.

“Their vaccination rates were about 10 percent less than kids with unaffected siblings,” Jain said.

But the risk of autism was less than one percent in vaccinated kids, whether they had an older sibling with autism or not.

“These findings indicate no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD (autism spectrum disorder) even among children already at higher risk for ASD,” Jain’s team wrote.

byline photo  MAGGIE FOX  Maggie Fox is senior health writer for NBC News and TODAY, writing top news on health policy, medical… Expand Bio  …………..’

Opinion: Shouts of vaccine opponents drown out rational arguments


Original post from The Sacramento Bee

‘………BY MARCOS BRETON  MBRETON@SACBEE.COM

It’s a shouting match dominated with bullies who make threats, scream about personal beliefs and fill your voice mail with angry phone calls.

Richard Pan – the Sacramento state senator and doctor – is getting a steady dose of such vitriol amid the hottest political fight in California. He strikes a solitary figure in sensible glasses as he gets pummeled every day in the public square.

Pan has people on his side in the fight to immunize as many children against measles and other infectious diseases as possible. But Pan’s support is expressed rationally, scientifically.

His bill, SB 277, would eliminate personal-belief exemptions that allow parents to avoid vaccinating their children, and would require that children be vaccinated before attending private or public schools. Supporters include the state PTA, California public health officers, the California Medical Association and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The counties of Yolo, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Marin and Los Angeles support this bill, as do the Pasadena Public Health Department, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the American Nurses Association and the San Francisco Unified School District.

There are many more, but you get the point.

None of these groups has demonstrated support by invoking the Holocaust or their “God-given” rights. It doesn’t appear that any of Pan’s supporters have threatened people on the other side. But Pan requires extra security now thanks to threats against him as he lobbies for 277 while it teeters on the verge of being shot down by irrational fears about vaccinations.

Pan’s fellow legislators have begun to buckle. Suddenly, it’s about making sure that those who object to immunizations are not barred from public education.

If that becomes the excuse to undermine the undeniable science that children should be vaccinated to prevent the spread of disease, then it would be refreshing to hear legislators admit that they caved because they were scared.

A myth debunked by science – that vaccines cause autism – has already killed attempts to bolster vaccinations in Oregon and Washington.

“Members just received a lot of calls and emails from the public – some were their constituents and some were from all over the state and the country – just very adamant that they didn’t like it,” said Washington state Rep. June Robinson, a Democrat, to Jeremy B. White of The Sacramento Bee. “I think it changed the vote, quite frankly, for some members who thought they would vote for it and changed their mind. I think people were swayed by the constant barrage of communication.”

What kind of communication?

“They tend to bully, use hyperbolic language,” Pan said. “They’ll call and call and call. Some guy from Texas keeps calling us.”

One Facebook posting compared Pan to a Nazi; another suggested he should be hung with a noose.

Who could forget Robert Kennedy Jr. comparing the rise in autism – which he blames on vaccines – to a holocaust during a speech at the state Capitol?

Kennedy apologized, but the tone has been set. A 1997 British study that linked vaccinations and autism has long been debunked by the scientific community, which finds no link at all. The idea nonetheless persists.

Many people spoke against SB 277 at the Capitol last week. Their reasons were often steeped in fear or in the idea that they could hold themselves separate from a broader community.

The issue that may scuttle SB 277 is the prospect, as expressed by some legislators, that kids would be forced into inadequate home schooling if their parents or guardians refused to immunize them. If a workable compromise can’t be reached – if a mob mentality scares enough legislators to embrace a no vote as an opposed to a compromise – then those who shout the loudest will have won.

There are reasonable people in Sacramento who feel Pan is orchestrating a self-serving overreach. The most recent – and highly publicized measles outbreak – wasn’t at a school but at Disneyland. So why dictate that school kids only gain admission to schools by getting vaccinations first?

Those who ask that question aren’t paying attention.

After being on the wane a decade ago, measles is coming back. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles exploded with 668 cases in the U.S. in 2014. There have been more than 150 so far in 2015, according to the CDC. Most of these are in California. Most of them occurred in people who had not been vaccinated.

It’s not just measles. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that clusters of unvaccinated people were one of several factors that led to the worst outbreak of whooping cough in California in 2010 – worse than any year since 1947.

“Why do we have to wait for someone to die?” Pan said on Friday. “One in five people who contract measles are hospitalized. This is not a benign disease.”

Pan said he is drawing a line at schools because it is where children cross paths and if you are allowing the pool of unvaccinated children to grow, you are creating more chances for more outbreaks among the unvaccinated.

“If you have a baby under the age of 1, that child cannot be immunized,” Pan said. “If your child has cancer or lupus, that child cannot be immunized. These are people that depend on everyone else being (immunized).”

In some respects, Pan knows he being outgunned by strident voices citing anecdotal evidence that vaccines are dangerous. Pan is appealing to supporters to speak up for increased vaccinations. But supporters of SB 277 are not vehement – and vehemence is carrying the day.

“We need to protect all children; that’s what this is about,” Pan said. “God help us if someone gets permanent disability or dies because a minority made choices based on misinformation. Shame on us.”………….’

Autism Speaks Alters Position On Vaccines


Original post from Disability Scoop

‘………By

A baby receives a shot at a California clinic. With measles outbreaks in more than a dozen states, Autism Speaks now says

A baby receives a shot at a California clinic. With measles outbreaks in more than a dozen states, Autism Speaks now says “vaccines do not cause autism.” (Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Amid concerns about measles, the nation’s largest autism advocacy group has updated its stance on vaccines and autism, but remains mum on whether it will fund further studies on the issue.

Autism Speaks revised its policy on immunizations in a statement published on its website last week.

“Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated,” reads the statement from Rob Ring, the group’s chief science officer.

The language replaces a four-paragraph statement on the issue which had been in place since April 2013. The organization’s previous position also strongly encouraged parents to vaccinate but said “it remains possible that, in rare cases, immunization may trigger the onset of autism symptoms in a child with an underlying medical or genetic condition.”

The shift in Autism Speaks’ position comes as the nation grapples with a resurgence of measles. The illness was considered to be eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, but 102 cases were reported in 14 states from California to New York in January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most of those affected were not vaccinated, health officials say.

Concerns sparked by a 1998 study suggesting a link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine have led some parents not to immunize their children. However, the study has since been retracted and the theory widely discredited by medical experts.

“The updated statement was issued this week to reiterate the importance of vaccinations in light of the measles outbreaks,” CJ Volpe, a spokesman for Autism Speaks, told Disability Scoop on Friday.

As recently as 2010, Autism Speaks affirmed its commitment to funding research examining a possible link between autism and vaccines even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary.

Volpe did not respond to questions about whether Autism Speaks continues to fund research on vaccines. A search of the organization’s online grant database indicates that the group most recently funded a study looking at vaccines and autism, among other issues, in 2011.

Nonetheless, Autism Speaks’ Strategic Plan for Science outlining the group’s priorities for the years 2013 to 2017 continues to make mention of vaccines.

“Autism Speaks is funding studies on the underlying biology of autism, including studies to better understand medical and genetic conditions that are associated with autism that could potentially be linked to adverse responses to immunization,” the strategic plan states.

MORE IN AUTISM………..’

Why parents want to believe in a vaccine conspiracy


Original post from The Washington Post

‘….. March 6 at 7:00 PM

Susan Senator lives in Brookline, Mass.

For the first three years of my son’s life, I lived a kind of “Gaslight” experience. Sometimes everything seemed fine. But other times, ordinary activities such as piling him into the stroller and going to the park would feel odd somehow, false. Something was not right, but I could not say what or why. I felt as though I was playing the part of mommy, while the real me was clenched up somewhere in the background, nauseated with an unnamed fear for my son.

Nat had autism, but I didn’t know it. It was 1993 when he was diagnosed, and no one in my circle had a child with autism or even really knew what it was. When I had Nat evaluated, I asked whether I had caused it. “Oh, no, no one believes that anymore,” the doctor said, soothing me with his pragmatic, scientific manner. “Autism is neurological, genetic most likely.”

I was grateful to hear this, but only for a little while, because the real problem was still autism. Around the time Nat turned 8, he hit a rough patch that lasted years. He stopped sleeping on any kind of regular nighttime schedule, and he began to exhibit all sorts of difficult behaviors — false, maniacal laughter, hitting and pinching, breaking things. I didn’t know how to get him to calm down, and I feared for his safety. And because so little was known about autism, no one could really help us. In a way, I found myself back at the beginning, researching the condition, trying to figure out why. Why Nat? Why me?

When I came across the theory that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine could cause autism, it made a kind of Old World sense to me. From what I could gather, it sounded as though the vaccine might blow apart some young children’s immune systems, making them susceptible to all kinds of conditions. I was so worn down, so miserable in those days that I was desperate to believe there was a culprit, something or someone to blame. It was a relief to think that the problem wasn’t my DNA but an outside aggressor, a mistake caused by the medical establishment’s hubris.

 I wondered, if this is true, what should I do? Shouldn’t I sue someone? Kill someone, even? I felt suffocated by anger and horror and also by not knowing what to do next. But the more I thought it through, the less clarity I had.

My husband and my mother told me I had to move on, for how could we ever really know whether the vaccine was the cause? I heard them. I also heard the whisper of those very early days with Nat, when doubt needled me. Something had been off — subtle, but there — before his vaccinations.

So I did more research, and I learned that scientific organizations around the world — including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health — had proved the vaccine theory false. No one could say for sure what caused autism, but they certainly could say that it wasn’t a vaccine.

In hindsight, it’s easy to understand why some parents of children with autism want to see conspiracy and evil where none exists. Living with a person with autism can be devastatingly difficult, and learning that truth about vaccines didn’t really help me. Autism seemed to have stolen my son, and he was getting worse. He’d been expelled from school for his aggression. I needed help, and his therapists kept quitting because they were afraid of him. I was afraid of him. I was sick of my life.

I hung on, of course. Spring came. Somewhere I found the strength to keep my family together and to try one or two new things with Nat, such as signing him up for a Special Olympics gymnastics team. Nat started to do better. Nothing earth-shattering, but he was communicating a little more, and he seemed a bit more tolerant of other people. It was the first time I experienced coming through a bad time, finding a light at the end of the tunnel, with Nat.

Now I look back and see that something was indeed shifting in Nat — and in me. Maybe one influenced the other: He felt my happiness, he grew confident, he succeeded at more things and felt my approval. The change was gradual. Yet it was also all at once. I remember one heart-stopping moment when we shared a laugh on the living room couch, and his warm eyes held mine for a sliver of a second. I knew he was in there, and that was enough.

I didn’t get a perfect kid or a perfect life. No one does. But when you’re a young, scared parent, you will grasp at anything to make sense of a hardship such as autism. I know that firsthand. But the MMR vaccine does not cause autism. And more important, autism is not the only tough thing that can happen in this life. A return of deadly diseases kept at bay by vaccines would be far worse.

 Whatever caused Nat’s autism did not crush him. He is all there. Still very autistic but growing toward the light nevertheless.  …………….’

Roald Dahl’s Heartbreaking Letter About Vaccination


This is such an important subject, vaccines do work, but they are never 100%, but then what is.

101 Books

Roald Dahl wrote James and The Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Matilda. He’s one of the greatest children’s authors the world has ever known.

But the following letter he wrote in 1988 is perhaps the most poignant copy he’s ever written. In it, he describes how his daughter died from the measles many years before (h/t to Vox):

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