Two recent stories got my attention. First Forbes gave us more reasons not to worry about autism or the toxic pesticides in our food.
It's clear that until the autism generation literally bankrupts the welfare system, everything about the autism epidemic and what's causing it will be repeatedly denied. Today was no exception.
Mitchell Hecht, MD in his column, Ask Dr. H, gave us the standard medical community’s denial of any link between vaccines and autism. And while it may be frustrating to once again see a physician who seems to have no concern about autism while vilifying Andrew Wakefield and hailing the work of Brian Deer, this piece is proof that the denials aren’t working. We’ve have years of official studies and countless well-credentialed experts all over the media telling the public THERE IS NO LINK, but still the debate rages. Hecht probably doesn’t want to keep talking about this, but he has to because the public is increasingly worried about vaccine safety. Articles like this give us the perfect opportunity to post comments challenging everything.
Emily Willingham was out to convince us that the studies raising serious concern over pesticides (and autism) aren’t reliable while casting doubt on the whole idea of an autism epidemic. And of course if there’s no epidemic, then there’s no need to worry about what pesticides are doing to our children. “Anti-pesticide” is used here just like “anti-vaccine” is used to dismiss those who believe toxic vaccines are harming kids.
“An anti-pesticide manifesto [PDF] from the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) has recently made a few headlines in big papers and nabbed a feature on an NPR member station with claims that “children today are sicker than they were a generation ago” and that pesticides are a “key driver” of the increase in childhood disorders such as “childhood cancers … autism, birth defects, and asthma.” The news reports almost invariably describe the tome in scientific terms without mentioning that it’s self published and not peer reviewed and contains no new data or information. The stories do not fail, however, to mention autism and to mention it early.
“The PANNA authors pin their autism claim in part on the much written-about “autism epidemic.” While environmental factors might play some role in a small portion of the increase in autism, as I argue here, the general consensus appears to be that diagnostic substitution and enhanced awareness and recognition are the main drivers. Regardless of whether a genuine increase exists and what environmental factors are key to it, very little published evidence suggests a link between autism diagnoses and pesticide exposures. Yet the two keep popping up together in articles that sensationalize a relationship or posit one from research that doesn’t address autism at all.