Amid all the furor surrounding Thompson no one noticed the publication by the CDC last year of a study showing the steady rise of autism spectrum disorders in Atlanta which once again places beyond reasonable doubt that the rise in autism is real and not an artifact. On the CDC’s own analysis autism had risen on its own door step by nearly four times among eight year olds between 1996 and 2010 to a rate of 1 in 65. Ed Yazbak reviews the paper.
By now everyone who cared to know has been or should have become well informed about a controversial 2004 CDC publication by DeStefano, Bhasin, Thompson, Yeargin-Allsopp and Boyle titled "Age at first measles-mumps-rubella vaccination in children with autism and school-matched control subjects: a population-based study in metropolitan Atlanta." [i]
Facts and allegations related to that study are not the subject of this report. Only deserving a mention is the fact that one of the authors of the 2004 study is still the Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) [ii] and another is the Branch Chief, Developmental Disabilities Branch, NCBDDD[iii]. Neither has yet proposed a science-supported cause or causes of autism and both seem only certain that pediatric vaccines and their components are in no way responsible for autistic regression.
On April 29, 2015, another Atlanta Autism-related study titled “Trends in the Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Hearing Loss, Intellectual Disability, and Vision Impairment, Metropolitan Atlanta, 1991–2010” was published on PLOS One, an Open Access Journal.[iv] For reasons unknown, it was not extensively publicized and did not receive much attention.
The authors, Braun KVN, Christensen D, Doernberg N, Schieve L, Rice C, Wiggins L, Schendel D, and Yeargin-Allsopp M reported that they were all from of the “Developmental Disabilities Branch, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.” Of the group, only Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp had participated in the 2004 investigational study and co-authored its published report.
The authors’ participation in the latest study and publication was as follows: KVB, DC, ND and MYA “conceived and designed the experiments”, KVB and DC “analyzed the data” and KVB, DC, ND, LS, CR, LW, DS and MYA “wrote the paper.”
It is not clear why it was decided to claim that Dianna Schendel PhD was still at the CDC in April 2015 when the PLOS study was published, when Arrhus University in Denmark had announced that she had been a University employee since 2013 and had “been appointed Professor with special responsibilities at the Department of Public Health and the National Centre for Register-based Research at Aarhus University” on 6/26/2014. [v]
In her recent Arrhus University CV, Dr. Schendel herself clearly stated that she had been employed at the “Developmental Disabilities Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” from 1993 to 2013.[vi]
The exchange of talent between the CDC and Arrhus University is well known and long standing. It was highlighted of course by the “Affaire Thorsen” that the CDC hierarchy has preferred to forget. Less inhibited and clearly more disturbed, Arrhus University issued a detailed recitation of what exactly happened in its very frank “Statement regarding Dr. Poul Thorsen’s involvement in Aarhus University projects”. [vii]
According to the Office of Inspector General, HHS, Dr. Thorsen remains a wanted fugitive who allegedly diverted over $1 million of CDC grant money to his own personal bank account, who was indicted in April 2011 on 22 counts of Wire Fraud and Money Laundering, and who is presently in Denmark supposedly awaiting extradition to the United States.[viii]
Meanwhile Dr. Thorsen seems happily employed in addition to writing and publishing scientific papers, the latest in September 2015. [ix]
The most recent Atlanta Study by Braun et al, the subject of this report, “examined the prevalence and characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cerebral palsy (CP), hearing loss (HL), intellectual disability (ID), and vision impairment (VI) over a 15–20 year time period, with specific focus on concurrent changes in ASD and ID prevalence.”
The authors using “data from a population-based developmental disabilities surveillance program for 8-year-olds in metropolitan Atlanta” found that “From 1991–2010, prevalence estimates of ID and HL were stable with slight increases in VI prevalence. CP prevalence was constant from 1993–2010. The average annual increase in ASD prevalence was 9.3% per year from 1996–2010, with a 269% increase from 4.2 per 1,000 in 1996 to 15.5 per 1,000 in 2010. From 2000–2010, the prevalence of ID without ASD was stable; during the same time, the prevalence of ASD with and without co-occurring ID increased by an average of 6.6% and 9.6% per year, respectively.” They also stated that: “ASD prevalence increases were found among both males and females, and among nearly all racial/ethnic subgroups and levels of intellectual ability” and that “Average annual prevalence estimates from 1991–2010 underscore the significant community resources needed to provide early intervention and ongoing supports for children with ID (13.0 per 1,000), CP, (3.5 per 1,000), HL (1.4 per 1,000) and VI (1.3 in 1,000), with a growing urgency for children with ASD”
Under “Results”, the authors reported that the population of 8-year-old children in Metropolitan Atlanta had grown approximately 61% from 1991 through 2010 and that there had been a 934% increase among Hispanic children, an 82% increase among Non-Hispanic Black children and a -6% decrease among Non-Hispanic White children.
The authors also stated that prevalence estimates for Intellectual Disability, Cerebral Palsy, Hearing Loss and Vision Impairment were relatively stable from 1991 through 2010 whereas the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders markedly increased from 1996 through 2010. These findings were more graphically evident in Figure I of the Publication:
Even though the above clearly and graphically demonstrated that the persistent increase in Autism/ASD cases over 14 years was genuine and not due to “diagnostic substitution”, the authors nevertheless went on examining every aspect of that important issue in great detail. It is therefore only fair to recommend to all readers to review the whole report in order to draw their own conclusions.
For the sake of brevity, I will only discuss the study findings related to Intellectual Disability (ID) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), the two entities usually named in alleged “Substitution”
- The prevalence of Intellectual Disability was overall stable during the study period (from 10.6 per 1,000 in 1991 to 13.6 per 1,000 in 2010).
- Across the entire period from 1991–2010, average Intellectual Disability prevalence was 13.0 per 1,000 or 1 in 77.
- Prevalence of Intellectual Disability “was consistently and significantly higher among males than females…and among Non- Hispanic Blacks than Non-Hispanic White children (PR, 1.7:1 to 2.6:1).”
- Intellectual Disability prevalence among Hispanic children “increased from 9.4 per 1,000 in 1991–1992 to 11.7 per 1,000 in 2010, with a significant average annual increase of 2.0% (95% CI 0.2, 3.9).”
- Among children with Intellectual Disability, 28% had co-occurring ASD.
Autism Spectrum Disorders
- ASD prevalence increased significantly from 4.2 per 1,000 in 1996 to 15.5 per 1,000 in 2010, “an average annual change of 9.3% and an absolute change of 269%”
- Prevalence was significantly higher among males than among females
- By 2010, approximately 1 in 40 males had ASD compared with 1 in 182 females (an overall figure of 1 in 65).
- Prevalence of ASD was higher among NHW than NHB and Hispanic children for all years. The highest ASD prevalence estimate for any subgroup was among NHW males in 2010 (1 in 33).
Because of their complexity, the following two paragraphs are simply copied to avoid confusion.
- “Significant increases in ASD prevalence were found at all levels of intellectual ability with the exception of ID-NOS for which the sample sizes were small. The average annual increases among children with ASD with average to above average or borderline intellectual ability as well as that for children with ASD and mild ID were approximately 9.9–11.2% per year. The increase for children with ASD and moderate to profound ID was smaller (3.1%)”
- ASD prevalence, both with and without ID, increased significantly for both time periods with average annual increases from 2000 to 2010 of 6.6% for ASD with ID and 9.6% for ASD without ID (Fig 2). ID prevalence without co-occurring ASD decreased significantly from 13.0 per 1,000 in 1996 to 8.6 per 1,000 in 2010, yet was stable when restricted to 2000 through 2010 (9.5 per 1,000 to 8.6 per 1,000) (Fig 2). The stability in prevalence of ID without ASD from 2000–2010 is consistent with the stable prevalence of ID overall from 1991–2010. The 2010 surveillance year was the first time the overall ASD prevalence surpassed the overall ID prevalence (15.5 and 13.6 per 1,000, respectively), and ASD prevalence without ID was equal to that of ID without ASD (8.6 and 8.6 per 1,000, respectively).
Based on the above and on other information in the 2015 Atlanta GA Autism Study titled “Trends in the Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Hearing Loss, Intellectual Disability, and Vision Impairment, Metropolitan Atlanta, 1991–2010”, it is clear that the authors, all reportedly members of the “Developmental Disabilities Branch, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America” believe that Autism and ASD increases are true increases and not due to “diagnostic substitution”.
In addition, as clearly outlined under “Materials and Methods- Case Ascertainment” the same CDC authors left no doubt about the seriousness of their methodology and the accuracy of their findings. The 269% increase in Autism/ASD during the study period that they investigated was therefore a TRUE increase and certainly not due to “changing criteria”.
For those of us who have tried to say just that that since 1999, this is a welcome endorsement.
All we need now is that:
- No one ever again dare say that the clear increase in autism rates is just an artifact
- All concerned start to honestly investigate all suspected causes of autistic disorders without exception.
As per the reviewed article:
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