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May 5, 2006



AUTISM:
The Latest Prevalence rates in US - Now 1 in 175

 
Below is the latest bombshell in the US about the prevalence rates.  Clearly, this is getting media attention in the US. 

We, in Canada, need to capitalize on this and send this information to all MPs and Senators, especially the Minister of Health, and ask them for the corresponding study results in Canada and what are they doing about it? 

Clearly, this would support our case that the government needs to mandate the Public Health Agency with monitoring what the heck is going on and using this data to feed into policy development.  

I am
 asking all parents, family and friends of children with autism to send this to their MPs, and the Health Minister, with the request that the government recognize the problem and monitor the situation in Canada.

________________________________ 


Study Finds 0.55% of Kids Autistic

Wall Street Journal
May 5, 2006
Byline: Associated Press
  
Section: Technology & HealthPage: B2

ATLANTA -- About 300,000 U.S. children have been diagnosed with autism, according to the largest national study so far of the prevalence of this complex developmental disorder.

That means about 5.5 out of every 1,000 school-age children have been diagnosed with autism. Past estimates have ranged from one to nine out of every 1,000 children, based on smaller studies in individual states or cities.

The study, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doesn´t attempt to answer the controversial issue of whether autism is increasing. The research is being published this week in the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The study found boys are nearly four times more likely than girls to be identified with the condition. And it found Hispanics had lower autism rates, though it is possible that may be related to health-care access problems.

This is the first in a series of autism studies being issued by the Atlanta-based CDC. Others will look at autism-diagnosis variations across different communities, and at how long it takes for a child to be diagnosed after the onset of symptoms.

Autism is a complex disorder usually not diagnosed in children until after the age of three. It is characterized by a range of behaviors, including difficulty in expressing needs and inability to socialize.

The study pulls together results from two surveys, involving tens of thousands of families, done in 2003 and 2004. In both, parents were asked the same question: Has a doctor or health-care provider ever told you your child has autism?

Researchers believe some parents may have answered 'yes' for two similar but less severe diagnoses, Asperger disorder and pervasive developmental disorder (which is sometimes called 'atypical autism'). For that reason, the study´s prevalence rates may reflect other autism-spectrum disorders and not just autism alone, CDC officials said. 
 
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More Cases of Autism Reported; About 1 in every 175 U.S. schoolchildren has the disorder, a national survey finds.
Los Angeles Times
May 5, 2006
Byline: Thomas H. Maugh II

Section: Main News; National Desk

Page: A-14

The first national survey of autism incidence confirms the widely held belief that the debilitating disorder has become widespread, afflicting an estimated 300,000 U.S. schoolchildren -- about one in every 175.

The new estimates contrast sharply with estimates of one in every 2,000 children that were commonly used two decades ago, and there has been great controversy about whether the higher prevalence reflects a sharply increased rate of the disorder, better detection or over-diagnosis.

Autism and its related developmental disorders 'are an urgent public health issue that affect the lives of many, many families,' Dr. Jose Cordero of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday in releasing the new figures. 'The cost is in the billions of dollars.'

The new results are not surprising, said Dr. Melissa Nishawala, an autism specialist at the New York University School of Medicine.

'These numbers are not so different from the one in 166 that has been in use for a long time,' she said, adding that they are also comparable to those produced in a recent large British study.

The new study, reported Thursday in the CDC´s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, does not address the causes of autism or trends in incidence.

Instead, it is 'simply a snapshot of the world at a given point of time: 2003 and 2004,' said Cordero, director of the CDC´s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

Autism is a severe developmental disorder in which children seem isolated from the world around them. There is a broad spectrum of symptoms, marked by poor language skills and an inability to handle social relations. No cure exists, but many problems can be alleviated with intensive behavioral therapy.

Some autism advocacy groups have argued that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and the use of mercury as a preservative in a variety of childhood vaccines are responsible for the growing number of cases. But most studies have failed to confirm such a link, and the cause of the increase remains a mystery.

The new results were obtained from two separate telephone surveys, conducted during the same period, involving more than 125,000 randomly chosen families throughout the country. Parents were asked if their children between the ages of 4 and 17 had ever been diagnosed with autism.

The two studies found a remarkably similar incidence, said CDC epidemiologist Laura Schieve: 5.5 cases per 1,000 children in one study and 5.7 per 1,000 in the second. That translates to one in 181 children and one in 175, respectively. There were no statistically significant differences among age groups.

Boys were four times as likely as girls to have the disorder, according to the CDC report. The overall numbers included black and white children. The only ethnic group that was singled out was Latinos, who had about half the prevalence -- possibly because of decreased recognition of symptoms among Latino parents, Schieve said.

'This just continues the line of evidence that there is a lot of autism out there,' said Dr. Robert Hendren, director of UC Davis´ MIND Institute, which studies autism and other development disorders. 'What´s remarkable is if you compare it to 20 years ago. That´s a big jump.'

Hendren said a portion of the numbers could represent an over-diagnosis of actual cases because parents pressure physicians for a diagnosis so they will be eligible for social and special services.

'That probably accounts for some of the increase,' he said, 'but not most of it.' 
 
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300,000 Children in U.S. Found to Have Autism
Washington Post
May 5, 2006
Byline: Shankar Vedantam
Section: A Section
Page: A09

About 300,000 American children have been diagnosed as having autism, according to the first comprehensive national surveys of the developmental disorder.

Boys were four times more likely than girls to have the disorder, which is characterized by verbal, social and emotional problems. White families with higher incomes were also more likely to report having children with the disorder, a fact that federal experts said probably reflected unequal access to medical services.

The new data came in two surveys released yesterday by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said the numbers matched the range found by earlier studies that looked at smaller groups of people.

Autism has been dogged by controversy for more than a decade after what appeared to be a sharp increase in diagnoses in the 1990s. Many experts believe the increase reflects changes in diagnostic criteria adopted in 1994, increased public awareness of the problem, and the difficulties in telling apart a number of overlapping conditions that fall under an umbrella known as autism spectrum disorders. Some advocates have blamed a mercury-based preservative in children´s vaccines, even though repeated analyses have failed to confirm a link.

The new surveys show that Hispanics have a much lower autism rate than whites, but experts said that this probably reflected differences in access to care.

'This does provide important results on the need to consider autism may be under-diagnosed in certain populations,' said Laura Schieve, an epidemiologist at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, at a teleconference organized by the CDC.

Schieve and Jose Cordero, director of the birth defects center, said both surveys showed some differences in autism prevalence by age group -- with children ages 6 to 11 more likely to be diagnosed than those ages 4 to 5. However, they said the differences were not statistically meaningful and could not address whether the decision to phase out the mercury-based preservative from children´s vaccines in 1999 had led to a leveling off or fall in autism diagnoses.

Cordero said it was far more likely that the age-group differences in prevalence reflected the fact that many children are not diagnosed until they enter school and teachers recognize the problem. That means the number of diagnoses among the 4-to-5-year-olds in the surveys could rise as they enter school.

'Let´s do it again next year and the year after,' said Gary Goldstein, president and CEO of the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins University, which has a large autism research program. 'My prediction is you are going to see a rise in the younger ones. If it was going away, which I would love, you would see a falling number.'

Goldstein said the racial and class differences in diagnoses reflected the fact that getting a diagnosis often requires that parents be effective advocates, at least in the years before children arrive in school.

'It´s not like leukemia or a broken bone where a diagnosis will be made no matter what your social class is,' said Goldstein, who is also a board member at Autism Speaks, an advocacy group focused on research and awareness. 'You have to be an advocate.'

Peter Bell, chief executive of the Cure Autism Now Foundation, an advocacy group, said the fact that some children do not get diagnosed before they reach school is troubling. Early diagnoses, he said, allow for early interventions, which are more effective.

Two local researchers who have long claimed there is a link between the mercury additive thimerosal and autism said the CDC numbers suggest there is a connection. Mark and David Geier, a father-son team, said at the very least the CDC data showed a leveling off in autism diagnoses.

'In early 2003, we looked at a number of databases and how much mercury children were getting from their shots, and we said there is a causal relationship between thimerosal and autism,' David Geier said. 'Thimerosal started to be removed in July 1999. We predicted the rates of autism would begin to decrease. What we are seeing is decreasing trends. It coincides with children getting less mercury in their shots.' 
 


_______________________________________
  


National Briefing Health And Science: Study On Autism
New York Times
Section: National Desk; Page 19.

May 5, 2006 About 300,000 American children have been diagnosed with autism, according to the largest national study so far of the prevalence of the disorder. That means about 5.5 out of every 1,000 school-age children have been diagnosed with autism. The study, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports findings from surveys of tens of thousands of families. The research is being published this week in the agency´s publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.  

_________________________________________________ 

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Posted: Friday May 5, 2006, 5:33 pm
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Barbara Anello
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