Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an analysis of 2018 data from nearly a dozen states confirming that the autism rate for eight year old children in the United States has risen to one in 44 children.1 Rates were one in 54 eight-year-old children in 2016,1 one in 150 in 2000,2 and in the 1990s, prevalence estimates ranged from one in 2,500 to one in 1,000.3
By comparison, autism rates in France are one in 144, one in 139 in Iceland, and one in 138 in Austria.4
Autism was “once a rare brain and immune system disorder”3 but is now a common occurrence. Rather than viewing the increase in autism as evidence there is a very real and alarming expansion of the neuroimmune disorder among children warranting further research into causes, many public health officials continue to maintain that the increase is simply due to more awareness, better screening, and earlier diagnosis.
More Public Awareness and Screening Cannot Be Sole Reasons for Increase in Autism, Especially Severe Autism
Scott Badesch5, CEO of the Autism Society of America says that while increased awareness does contribute to the higher numbers of children diagnosed with autism, that alone cannot account for the current rates. Badesch believes there are likely several contributing factors including pregnancy and birth factors, such as an increase in C-section births, older parental age at time of conception, environmental toxins like heavy metals and pesticides, and genetic variants.
“People say rates are higher because of the changes of the diagnostic criteria and they say it’s easier for children to get identified,” said psychologist Roseann Capanna-Hodge, EdD “I say that’s not the truth and that I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and that even 10 years ago, I did not see the level of autism that I do see today.”5
Dr. Capanna-Hodge also said that, in her experience, the higher rates are occurring at the more severe end of the autism spectrum, while the detection improvements have largely occurred at the low and mid-level portion of the spectrum.
Environmental Toxins Likely Play Role in Higher Autism Rates
San Francisco pediatrician Julia Getzelman, MD also believes that environmental toxins are playing a role because of increased environmental toxin exposures and the “mismatch between our genes and our environment.”5 Dr. Getzelman said:
The majority of our evolution didn’t include the kinds of toxic hits we are experiencing.5
Consistently High Levels of Aluminum Found in Brain Tissue of Individuals with Autism
One of the environmental toxins, which has been studied for its potential role in the development of autism, is aluminum. In a PubMed published study,6 researchers used transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry to measure aluminum content of brain tissue from donors with an autism diagnosis. They found that aluminum content of brain tissue in autism was consistently high in the occipital, frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes. Authors of the study state:
These are some of the highest values or aluminum in brain tissue yet recorded and one has to question why, for example, the aluminum content of the occipital lobe of a 15-year-old boy would be 8.74 (11.59) μg/g dry wt.6
Sources of human aluminum exposure include food, air pollution, cookware, medications and personal care products. While public health officials maintain that there is no link between aluminum-containing vaccines and neurological disorders, including autism, aluminum is in fact used as an adjuvant in some vaccines, such as hepatitis A and B, diptheria-tetanus-containing vaccines, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcal vaccines.7
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Click here to view References:
1 Khanna C. One in 44 U.S. children diagnosed with autism, new data suggests. NBC News Dec. 2, 2021.
2 Wright J. The real reason autism rates are up in the U.S. Scientific American Mar. 3, 2017.
3 Parpia R, Fisher B. CDC: Autism rate going up. The Vaccine Reaction May 28, 2019.
4 World Population Review. Autism Rates by Country 2021.
5 Chesler C. Why are autism rates steadily rising? Leaps Apr. 2, 2020.
6 Mold M, Umar D, King A, Exley C. Aluminum in brain tissue in autism. PubMed Nov. 26, 2017.
7 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Vaccine Ingredients—Aluminum. Mar. 22, 2018.