By Anne Dachel
Read Anne's commentary and view the links after the jump. The Dachel Media Update is sponsored by Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy and their OurKidsASD brand.
Mar 30, 2014, NYTimes: How to Think About the Risk of Autism
Mar 29, 2014, Forbes: Dr. Paul Offit: 'Journalism Jail' For Faulty Medical Reporting
Mar 29, 2014, Sacramento Bee: More California children unvaccinated due to parental concerns
Mar 29, 2014, KENS5, San Antonio, TX: Experts debate reason for rise in autism diagnoses
Mar 29, 2014, Newsday: Taking notice of the new autism statistic
Mar 29, 2014, PIX 11 (NY): Autism rate surges in New Jersey, new frightening data shows - But why?
Mar 29, 2014, NJ.com: Bergen County to mark Autism Awareness Month
Mar 29, 2014, Chicago Sun-Times: Jay Cutler and wife: Get your kids vaccinated
Mar 28, 2014, CBS This Morning: Autism Rates Soar; CDC Says Disorder Now Affects One In Every 68 Children
Mar 28, 2014, NBC Today Show: CDC report: Autism numbers up 30 percent
Mar 28, 2014, Forbes: CDC: Autism Rates May (Or May Not) Be On The Rise
Mar 28, 2014, Atlanta Journal Constitution: (video) CDC: Autism rate increases 30 percent between 2008 and 2010
Mar 27, 2014, WHIZ News, Zanesville OH: Mother Speaks About the Risks of Vaccinations
Mar 27, 2014, Twin Cities Pioneer Press: Autism prevalence among US children on the rise
Mar 27, 2014, CBS Pittsburgh: Autism Speaks Raising Awareness With "Light It Up Blue" Campaign
STUDY published last week found that the brains of autistic children show abnormalities that are likely to have arisen before birth, which is consistent with a large body of previous evidence. Yet most media coverage focuses on vaccines, which do not cause autism and are given after birth. How can we help people separate real risks from false rumors?
Over the last few years, we've seen an explosion of studies linking autism to a wide variety of genetic and environmental factors. Putting these studies in perspective is an enormous challenge. In a database search of more than 34,000 scientific publications mentioning autism since its first description in 1943, over half have come since 2008.
As a statistically minded neuroscientist, I suggest a different approach that relies on a concept we are familiar with: relative odds. As a single common measuring stick to compare odds, I have chosen the "risk ratio," a measure that allows the bigger picture to come into focus.
Sam Wang is an associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton, so he must known what he's talking about. (Or so we're supposed to believe.)
Wang is among the well-credentialed experts from big name universities covered in stories denying a link between vaccines and autism. They're intended to impress us. THEY MUST BE RIGHT.
IT'S NOT VACCINES. MOST media coverage has been about vaccines. And that's nothing but "false rumors." (ALMOST ALL media coverage DENIES ANY LINK, so what is Wang talking about?)
So what are we to think about "the risk of autism"? He tells us NOT TO WORRY. There may not be more autism. It's probably something that happens in the womb (which of course, dumps the blame on MOM, just like back in the days of the "refrigerator mom")
His advice: REDUCE THE STRESS.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia chief of infectious diseases, pediatrician, vaccine developer and author, Dr. Paul W. Offit, called on broadcast and print reporters to avoid the “he-said, she-said reporting” that perpetuates false controversies in science and medicine.
Offit’s comments came today in his keynote address at Health Journalism 2014, this year’s annual meeting of the Association for Health Care Journalists.
In his discussion of some continued–and faulty–reporting on an association between childhood vaccines and the incidence of autism, Offit said, “It’s easy to scare people. It’s harder to un-scare them.” His view is that vaccination rates will only increase because of outbreaks of otherwise preventable diseases such as measles and pertussis (whooping cough).
Who’s an “expert?”
Offit posed the question to journalists of what criteria establishes someone as an expert worthy of serving as a valid source or commenter on issues of health. On one hand, reporters and producers should held accountable for soliciting celebrities lacking qualifications in science and medicine whose unqualified opinions will be broadcast to millions or read by hundreds of thousands.
Offit is clearly threatening members of the media if they dare to do anything approaching BALANCE when reporting on vaccines and autism. Forbes should be outraged at Offit's proposal. Forbes is not. I posted comments.
More than 16,000 California children entered kindergarten this school year without vaccinations because of their parents' personal beliefs, up 15 percent from the prior year and more than double the number from six years ago, according to new figures from the California Department of Public Health.
The numbers were released as California battles an outbreak of measles - a disease mostly eradicated in California following decades of mass vaccination - involving almost 50 people. Medical experts say waning vaccination rates are one cause of the outbreak.
"It's very concerning to me and to those who work in vaccines," said Dr. Mark Sawyer, a specialist in pediatric diseases at the University of California, San Diego. "The rates have been steadily going up."
Many of those personally opposed to vaccinations contend they do more harm than good. The Canary Party, a prominent group that advocates letting parents choose whether to vaccinate their children, states on its website that "dozens of published research papers show that YES, vaccines and autism are linked."
This is exactly the kind of reporting that Offit wants stopped in his call for censorship. No one is supposed to know there is a Canary Party and that there are 'dozens of published research papers."
Many health experts are still asking questions on the heels of the latest CDC report involving autism. That study shows one in 68 children now has an autism spectrum disorder. That's a 30 percent increase from just two years ago. And just as this new report outlined, autism experts in Austin say it's hard to pinpoint if there's truly been an increase or if the numbers simply reflect better diagnosis. . . .
"Given the new diagnostic criteria that came out in a recent report and just the greater clarity in what autism is as a spectrum disorder, it doesn't surprise me that more people are getting diagnosed so services can get started early," said Suzanne Potts, the interim director of the Autism Society of Austin. . . .
"Over 50 percent of the kids who are diagnosed with autism are nonverbal," said Potts. "The other 49 percent are very verbal or have lots of great skills and strengths, but they may have been passed off as a quirky kid a long time ago. Now, we see them with their social deficits and the challenges they have just interacting with their peers."
While all autism experts agree early detection is the key -- autism can even be diagnosed in children as young as two years old -- the recent CDC report found most children are still being diagnosed late, past the age of four. They say that's even more important because the Autism Society of Austin reports there are now 30,000 families in Central Texas with an autistic child.
DEBATE? THERE WAS NO DEBATE. It's all just better diagnosing, change in definition. I posted comments.
So why this rise?
Oh, there are lots of theories -- but hardly any general agreement, not even on the central question of whether the incidence of autism, Asperger's syndrome or other spectrum disorders is really on the rise. Maybe just the reporting is. And then there's the even thornier question of what lies behind the neural development disorder.
Something environmental? Something prenatal? Concerns about childhood inoculations may finally be fading as scare data from one British researcher seems lately to have been debunked.
But whatever the cause, too many parents are facing life-altering crises when their 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds don't start speaking. And the power of early detection, though crucially important, often isn't enough.
I'm so sick of news report making light of autism. NO ONE IN THE MEDIA GIVES A DAMN HOW MANY CHILDREN ARE SUFFERING.
Ellis Henican doesn't have a clue what's going on. It's simply outrageous for him to speculate that Mozart and Eisenstein were autistic therefore, it's nothing new. I ended up posting 14 comments.
'It takes a state to raise this child.'
"There may be some truth to the idea that there is an increase in people moving to the state because we have an array of services for children and adults on the autism spectrum," Jessica Goldsmith-Barzilay, Assistant Director of Autism Family Services of NJ told PIX11 News.
"Likely more prominent is NJ's first-rate system for identifying and diagnosing autism, but the increase cannot be tied to better detection alone. There is an actual increase.
According to Goldsmith-Barzilay, there may be other factors leading to the high incidence in New Jersey that experts just aren't aware of.
Increased awareness in identifying and diagnosing children is another contributing factor.
The question is never really answered. The numbers may be "startling" and "staggering," but no one is really interested in why. In 2013, one study put the autism rate at one in 50. In 2012, when the one in 88 rate was announced, no one was alarmed. Autism wasn't a crisis to anyone in charge of health care and it isn't today.
New Jersey's previous rate was one in 49. Now it's gone up to one in 45.
Bergen County will recognize Autism Awareness Month by lighting up county administrative offices in blue and host an information session for families in May, the county executive's office announced Friday.
"Autism in whatever form it takes can be a very a devastating disorder for its victims and their families," County Executive Kathleen Donovan said in a press release. "The families struggling day to day need to know that there is support for them and there is compassion in the community."
In addition to displaying blue lights at One Bergen Plaza in Hackensack, Donovan asked residents to also "light it up blue" for Autism Awareness Day April 2 and keep the lights on all month.
Donovan said the county would host an event May 4 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Bergen County Zoo in Van Saun Park in Paramus to educate locals on services offered for families with autistic children. The event will also include free train rides and animal demonstrations.
Autism is "a devastating disorder" for victims and families. Thousands of lives are being touched by autism. Really?
Something that affects one in 45 kids in New Jersey and is devastating for the people involved deserves more than blue lights and calls for awareness. Why doesn't anyone see that? I posted 5 comments.
Joe Mitchell, MA, BCBA, who lives in Oak Park, is program director of Applied Behavior Interventions.
Ms. Cavallari, as a licensed therapist and owner of an autism therapy practice, it was with great distress and frustration to read of your decision not to vaccinate your children.
While you and your husband are certainly entitled to your opinions, your celebrity status does not give you license to misinform the public on the mythical link between autism and vaccinations.
That said, I feel both a professional and ethical responsibility to offer a truthful explanation on the matter, if only to assuage the anxieties of those parents, who, because of your irresponsible comments, might now feel that vaccinating their kids might put them at greater risk for developing autism. . . .
In short, the mythology you peddle as truth began in 1998 when a controversial study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield was published in the British medical journal The Lancet purporting a link between autism and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations.
Behavioral therapist slams Jay Cutler and his wife over their vaccine position. He says there is no link. He blames Wakefield. He believes the studies and officials.
He says kids are born with autism and it's genetic.
He should know, he runs a autism treatment clinic. Incredibly, he makes his living off of the autism epidemic and has no concern over where all his clients are coming from.
I posted comments and they were each immediately removed by the SUN-TIMES as soon as they appeared.
VIDEO Jim Axelrod: "One out of every 68 children in the United States is now believed to be somewhere on the autism spectrum. That's up from one out of 88, just two years ago."
Next viewers are shown twin boys with autism playing a game.
"According to the CDC estimates, the increased rate of autism suggests every grade in every elementary school nationwide now has at least one child with autism. Experts say it's not just because there are more autistic children, there's more awareness and better diagnosis.
"But Michael Rosanoff, associate director of research for Autism Speaks says there may be more autistic children who have not yet been identified."
Rosanoff: "This number doesn't surprise us, but we feel it's still an underestimate of the true public health challenge."
Isn't autism an interesting phenomenon? One out of 68? It's just "more awareness and better diagnosis." Incredible how we just used to miss all theses kids in the past.
Michael Rosanoff at Autism Speaks is expecting to find more autistic kids out there. He thinks we're still underestimating the rate.
Rosanoff isn't too concerned. He refers to autism as a "public health challenge."
CBS shows us the pleasant side of autism. These boys are cute, friendly, and interactive. It's so easy to pass autism off as something that's always been around. Imagine a video of a nonverbal autistic teenager wearing a helmet, rocking and screaming. It would never happen at CBS. It would raise too many questions.
No, instead CBS and Jim Axelrod pretend that these boys are the faces of autism. According to their mother, they're going to have jobs and do well as adults.
I have a suggestion for CBS and Autism Speaks. Next time, do a real story on autism. Go to a number of nursing homes and find the one in 68 residents with autism. Don't we owe it to them to identify those with autism?
(VIDEO) Snyderman: "There's sort of a mixed review from experts across the country. The numbers themselves are startling and speak, I think, to the fact that we've not only moved the goalposts wider when we redefine autism spectrum disorder, and not just autism."
"We're looking more closely in diagnosing kids that perhaps before fell through the cracks." . . .
". . . And I know what I'm going to say now is going to irritate a lot of people, but it does increasingly mean that it is not vaccines that cause problems when children get their baby shots. It goes to an insult earlier in fetal development. And we all have to start really getting on the same page looking for the cause. We don't know it yet, but we're getting closer."
So in the world of Nancy Snyderman, there's no such thing as regressive autism, there never was a Hannah Poling or dozens of vaccine injury cases involving autism that were compensated by the federal government. This "expert" knows NOTHING FOR SURE ABOUT AUTISM--except that vaccines don't cause it.
Yesterday, the CDC released its newest data on the number of children affected by autism in the country. The health and education records of 8-year-old children in 11 states - Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin - were combed to arrive at the new numbers. The finding that many have expressed concern about is that now 1 in 68 children may have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The number is up markedly from two years ago when it was 1 in 88, and seven years ago when it was 1 in 150. But the thing to keep in mind is that these are simply rates at which kids are being identified - so the data may not indicate that autism prevalence has actually jumped that much. . . .
On the bright side, this last point indicates that more kids are actually being diagnosed with ASD than in earlier reports, when this number was only 70%.
Colleen Doyle, the director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC, says that increasing awareness on the community level is what's key. "Communities across the country can use this information to promote early identification and to plan for training and service needs." She adds that early identification is "the most powerful tool we have right now to make a difference in the lives of young children with autism."
"On the bright side..."? I didn't know there was a bright side. (And I'm sure "Colleen Doyle" was really Coleen Boyle.) I posted 5 comments.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report Thursday that shows a sharp increase in the rate of autism among children.
"One in 68 children has autism, and just perspective, that's a huge jump because it used to be one in 88. That was the figure from two years ago." (Via CNN)
Notice the reporter talking. He's not worried. Why should we be? I posted five comments.
Shannon Coconis is a mother of three children and also the president of the National Autism Association of Southeast Ohio. She says one of her children was diagnosed with autism and that some members of the autism community believe that vaccinations are just one of the triggers that may cause the disease.
"We feel very strongly that vaccines are one of the triggers that can throw many kids who are genetically predisposed or for some other reason would have a chance to get autism so we are very careful about what we put into our bodies," said Coconis.
Coconis says that parents should read the labels of the vaccines and understand the purpose and potential dangers of each ingredient. She encourages parents to weigh out the benefits and risks of receiving vaccinations.
Thumbs up to WHIZ for allowing an autism mom to express concern about vaccination.
About one in 68 children were identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a 30 percent rise over the last estimate released in 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
"On the rise"? Is that what it is? No real explanation here. No real concern. I posted 5 comments.
Autism Awareness Month is celebrated throughout April, and this year will be kicked off by World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that overall autism rates in the U.S. have increased, and that one in 68 American children are on the autism spectrum.
Brett Spitale, executive director of Greater Pa. Autism Speaks, joined KDKA Radio's Bill Rehkopf on the Afternoon News to talk about the CDC's new numbers.
"One thing we know is that the numbers that are out there are most certainly going to continue to rise as well, too. There are still individuals out there in the U.S. who have autism and are not yet identified," said Spitale. "We know the CDC's approach relies on and educational and medical service records that are certainly improving diagnosis, but you know, we are still missing these individuals who are not diagnosed so we will certainly see that number rise."
While they feel the increase in numbers may also be due to the greater awareness and diagnoses of autism, Autism Speaks is still pushing to get the message of autism out there. They hope to one day find a better understanding of what causes Autism and the best ways to treat those who suffer from it.
In a world where the only thing we can do about autism is to screw in blue light bulbs and flip a switch, Autism Speaks expects the numbers to get worse--because of "greater awareness." There is a real surreal feeling reading this, kind of like we're all walking off a cliff together and no one cares. I posted comments.
The Dachel Media Update is sponsored by Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy and their OurKidsASD brand. Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy is one of the largest and most respected compounding pharmacies in the country. They use only the finest quality chemicals and equipment to prepare our patients’ compounded medications and nutritional supplements. Customizing medication and nutritional supplements for our customers allows them to achieve their unique health goals.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism and author of The Big Autism Cover-Up: How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public, which goes on sale this Fall from Skyhorse Publishing.