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1 in 88
April 18, 2012 - Colleen Carpenter
1980: 1 in 10,000 children 1990: 1 in 500 2000: 1 in 250 2005: 1 in 166 2009: 1 in 100 2012: 1 in 88
These are the rates released by the Center for Disease Control over the last 22 years. Boys are about 5 times more likely to have autism, making the current rate for boys1 in 54 and 1 in 252 for girls.
Many organizations and researchers are scrambling to figure out why the rates of autism are increasing at such an alarming rate. A group of California Researchers have concluded "that doctors are diagnosing autism at a younger age because of increased awareness. But that change is responsible for only about a 24 percent increase in children reported to be autistic by the age. Also, a shift in doctors diagnosing milder cases explains another 56 percent increase. There's genetics and there's environment. And genetics don't change in such short periods of time," Hertz-Picciotto, a researcher at UC Davis' M.I.N.D. Institute, a leading autism research facility, said.
I do think the rates are increasing from earlier detection and more awareness of milder cases. But, just as the researchers the the M.I.N.D. Institute explain, that does not even come close to accounting for the exponential rise in cases of autism.
So, what have other researched concluded? Some of the studies seem to make more sense than others, while some are just down right absurd. Here are a few of the conclusions of causation and links:
Older fathers - Advanced paternal age is associated with elevated autism risk only when the father is older and the mother is under 30, the study found. Fathers over 40 were six times more likely than fathers under 30 to have a child with autism.
Pesticides - Women who live near California farm fields sprayed with organochlorine pesticides may be more likely to give birth to children with autism.The rate of autism among the children of 29 women who lived near the fields was extremely high, suggesting that exposure to the insecticides in the womb might have played a role.
Highways - Researchers found that children whose families lived within 1,000 feet from a freeway at birth — about 10% of the children in the study — were twice as likely to have autism as those who lived farther from a highway.
In vitro fertilization -Autism was nearly twice as common among the children of women who were treated with the ovulation-inducing drug Clomid and other similar drugs than women who did not suffer from infertility, and the link persisted even after researchers accounted for the women's age.
Vitamin D Deficiency- No less than 3 studies claim autism is related to vitamin D deficiency during fetal development and early childhood.
Chemicals - Many researchers have theorized that a pregnant woman's exposure to chemical pollutants, particularly metals and pesticides, could be altering a developing baby's brain structure, triggering autism. Mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, lead, brominated flame retardants and pesticides are examples.Mothers of autistic children were twice as likely to use pet flea shampoos, which contain organophosphates or pyrethroids, according to one study. A link between autism and phthalates, which are compounds used in vinyl and cosmetics. Other household products such as antibacterial soaps also could have ingredients that harm the brain by changing immune systems.
Vaccines - The ever controversial topic of autism and vaccines remain a possible cause which many feel deserves further explanation. Obesity of pregnant women - Researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute in California found that mothers-to-be who were obese were 67% more likely to have a child with autism as opposed to normal-weight mothers without diabetes or hypertension.
"Typical American Diet" - Consumption of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is linked to the dietary loss of zinc, which interferes with the elimination of heavy metals from the body. Many heavy metals like mercury, arsenic and cadmium are potent toxins with adverse effects on brain development in the young. HFCS consumption can also impact levels of other beneficial minerals, including calcium. Loss of calcium further exacerbates the detrimental effects of exposure to lead on brain development in fetuses and children.
As much as I would love to see a cure for autism, I love my son as he is and accept him with all his awesome quirks. It's time to see these rates on the decline, but in reality I fear in the next 5 years the rate could become 1 in 44.
So what it boils down to is, the cause cannot be entirely genetic. In my opinion, there must be some element of genetic predisposition to account for the higher rate among boys. And maybe the trigger varies depending on each child. My hope is that researchers will be able to come up with a way to screen children in such a way that the environmental triggers can be avoided before a child is exposed and develops autism.
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