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Autism in the Holy Land

Holy land By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.

An Age of Autism reader sent me an article reporting on autism trends over time in Israel.  The article is entitled “Time Trends in Reported Autistic Spectrum Disorders in Israel, 1972-2004” and was published in the Israeli Medical Association Journal in January of 2009 (HERE.) 

The reader was concerned that little attention was being paid to the findings of the article.  Although one might point to a more thorough, recent U.C. Davis study showing the rise in autism is not due to better screening and diagnosis, and suggesting an environmental cause, the findings from the Israeli study are nonetheless chilling. 

From the abstract, “The incidence data showed an increase in the number of cases from zero in 1982-1984 and 2 in 1985 (1.2 million per capita under 18 years) in 1985 to a high of 428 cases in 2004 190 per million).”  That makes the current rate of autism in Israel to be about 1 in 2,400 kids.  But the numbers on a yearly basis tell an even more interesting story than an inexorable rise in autism rates.

The graphic for figure 1 in the document shows a slow increase from 1985 (0 per year) to 1996 (approximately 65), then a sharp increase, peaking in 1999 (about 350), a plunge from that time to a low in 2002 (about 200), then a sharp increase to 2004 (about 450).  The authors note that “The fivefold increase in the annual number of patients eligible for disability benefits (author's note - referring to the time-frame between 1996 and 1999) might be attributable to several factors,” and then goes on to identify the usual suspects, namely better diagnosing and reporting.

What’s curious, though, is how this population of medical professionals who were supposedly good at identifying and diagnosing autism in 1999, then had a drop of more than 40% by 2002.  Did they lose their newly-acquired skills in a sophomore slump?  If I’m not mistaken, those were also the years of the vaccine-autism "panic" which began shortly after the publication of Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s article in the Lancet, linking the MMR shot and autism.  Was there a drop in vaccination rates in Israel after the Wakefield publication?  Did vaccination rates then subsequently go up in later years?

Think about it.  Autism rates in Israel dropped more than 40% during that time.  Shouldn’t there be some investigation of what caused this dramatic change?  Isn’t this something the CDC should be looking into?  Can somebody call Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN?

Because if we could discover what caused such an amazing decrease in autism we'd all have a new miracle from the Holy Land.

Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor of Age of Autism



Worried mom

My husband and I welcomed our first child 6 weeks ago and are having a
very difficult time making an informed decision regarding vaccination.
This is not for lack of trying - indeed, we have spent dozens and
dozens of hours trying to do our homework. It seems that there is no
clear cut answer here and what we have found most disappointing is
that even the so-called experts tend to use an
"ends-justify-the-means" strategy and condescendingly use fear and
propoganda to make their case. I don't appreciate that, no matter how
well-intentioned they are. Even physicians we have approached tend to
make ad-hominem attacks on the autism theorists, Jenny McCarthy, etc
and not really get down to the nitty gritty. If I may be very frank,
at the risk of offending many, please understand that I do not care
about herd immunity. I understand that many people seek to bring up
ethical and moral responsibility - but I would implore you to please
address this issue through the prism of self-interest exclusively in
this case. I want to make sure my child is safe - I am not interested
in setting public policy. If there is a COST and RISK involved in
accepting vaccines, I want them outlined and defined very clearly. If
there are benefits, I want them defined on an individual basis for my
child. I don't want to hear about herd immunity. Here are the issues
I am looking to resolve. If anyone can address these, my husband and
I (and probably many others reading this) would be eternally grateful.

1) Do vaccines actually work and are they necessary?

I ask because I have come across theories that state that the vast
majority of these diseases were on their way out due to better hygiene
and sanitary conditions. I was also SHOCKED to find out that there is
a chicken-pox vaccine these days. I'm only 25 years old and "back in
my day" chicken pox was just a normal part of being a kid!

2) Do vaccines affect neurodevelopment, particularly in infants?

There has been a LOT of talk about how vaccines/thimerosol/aluminum
does not cause autism. Fine. What about the development of the brain
and all that goes with it? What effects have been

3) Why is there a vaccine injury compensation fund supported by the government?

If vaccines are so safe - why are my tax dollars going toward
compensating people injured by vaccines?

4) Why does the U.S. recommend 36 vaccines vs 11 for countries like
Norway and Israel? Why is the U.S. autism rate 1/150 and Norway's

5) Why do some physicians recommend an alternate/delayed vaccine
schedule as being safer?

6) Is this lady crazy or is she onto something?


- Show quoted text -


Do you think it could be the HFCS in the infant Tylenol in the US and other countries with higher levels of Autism?

HFCS is not kosher and not used very much in Israel.

GM corn is used for a lot of the HFCS in the US. The difference of the MMR vaccine is that is grown on raw chicken eggs. The chickens are also fed GM corn.

This is just my theory. I think there might be something to it since they have not found a firm link to a particular vaccine and it is given by almost all mothers in the US to help the fever following a vaccination.

claudine Liss

I read articles several months ago that the vaccination rates in Israel have decreased due to distrust of vaccines. The WHO is not happy with the decrease. The articles also mentioned certain religious sects vaccinating less than others. I do not believe that vaccines are mandated for school attendance in Israel the way they are in the US.
In countries where vaccines are crammed into children, the illness/developmental disability rates are higher per my research.


in my opinion i dont think that vaccines are the cause of the autism.. because most of us had our vaccines and thank goodness nothing is wrong. therefore i feel that Autism and even dyslexia are all potential pitfalls when a child doesn't have proper child development. I think all families should be wary of this.


Greetings from Australia. Good to see some articles and comments relating to 'other countries.' I know our vaccine schedule is nowhere near that of the USA (only Hep B and the Flu shot still have Thimerosal)but our autism rate is consistently correlating with USA (presently approx 1 in 160). Does anybody know if autism rates comparisons have been done for many/some other countries? On the face of it it seems so simple - what are the vaccination schedules in each country? When is each vaccine administerd? How long between each vaccine? etc, etc, etc. Surely someone out there has the stats????


Great report and great insights. Very disturbing.

I wonder if vaccine uptake dipped in the U.S. during a similar period. It seems plausible.

I can only think of one alternate version of events aside from uptake rates changing: I wonder if what happened in Israel is what was supposed to have happened here-- that thimerosal began to be phased out of vaccines at that time and then, oops, the flu shot became the rage with pregnant women and infants and the rates shot back up to an all time high.

I could be totally wrong about this, but in 2005, when I told people in my area that I was signing my then two year-old twins up for Early Intervention, I was warned that we'd have to wait forever, that the agency was overwhelmed. I waited three days from the time I first called. They seemed desperate to sign us up, had all kinds of free appointment times and slots in programs. The quality of therapy was pretty bad and they seemed more interested in brainwashing me that vaccines don't cause autism (vaccines cause what?? They actually first introduced me to the concept) than they were in helping my kids talk, so we fired them. They kind of stalked us for a while after this, seemed really put out that we'd dropped services.

Later on, I wondered if there had been a dip in rates of autism in the years intervening between the quasi-phasing out of thimerosal and the wide uptake of the flu shot in the U.S. I considered whether this explained how the intervention agency was so incredibly busy in our area one year and then bereft of clients the next (I'm sure "business" picked up for them shortly with all those urgings to trust vaccines the therapists were dutifully spewing).

I have no idea if this has any bearing on reality. We're all sure of one thing, though: less autism in any year most likely means lower levels of *something* to do with vaccines, either the number of shots or what's in them.


Don't discount diet so easily.

On Israeli imports of processed American foods (sources of GMO) -
"...But trade conditions have declined in certain areas. The Israeli market for processed foods was opened up to other competitors in 1997. Thus, while U.S. frozen food once found an eager market in Israel, that's now changed.

"There's still a market for American processed foods, but the competition today is much stiffer," Vogelman said."


and on the debate over GM crops in Israel -



This study was based on records of the National Insurance Institute of Israel. As the mother of an autistic girl who has to deal with these authorities in Israel, it would not surprise me if the decline in numbers could be attributed to a change in policy in granting eligibility to Autistic children. I know for a fact that the alarming increase in numbers of autistic children receiving disability benefits did bring about such change in policy, which made it much more difficult to obtain. I suggest someone look at the dates and see if they correspnd. In no way can the numbers used in this study fairly represent actual numbers of autism diagnosin in Israel.

In response to some of the comments above: unfotunately Israel is fully westernized in terms of pollution, diet, fluoride in water, and MMR vaccinization.


Many believe autism is caused by the interaction of heavy meatals stored in the body( an ingredient in immunizations?) and the electromagnetic frequencies that have increased many thousands of times since the proliferation of the many electrical devices, cell phones and cell phone towers children are exposed to around the world. It would seem this could be tested?

Jake Crosby

What is the vaccine schedule in Israel? Is thimerosal legal over there?

Kathy Blanco

Israel doesn't eat our western diet, and I have a feeling they don't put fluoride in the water, which is a bad combo, it makes for leaky guts, leaky brains, etc. Vaccines come along in people like that, and BAM! And, there is probalby less immediate cord clamping in their hospitals...is there a "jewish" way to have birth??? I think they may very well hold off on cord clamping too soon? They are probably also on diets that are less GMO, less MSG, etc. These all make for sitting duck babies...

All beit, they are also people who tend to have genetic problems with immune function (such as Tay Sachs)...it's odd isn't it?

I think whatever we are doing to our American children, it is not so easily duplicated in other countries...\

This is why I say, is vaccines the ONLY CAUSE? probably not, but in combination with other factors, it definately is the trigger...

more questions

Why is the rate of autism so much lower in other countries? I thought that we had basically exported our aggressive vaccination schedule around the world. Are there differences in diet, pollution rates, lifestyle? Which countries have the highest and lowest autism rates? Is it even possible to get good data to compare this at all?

Mark 9:14-29

Maybe the data reflecting the drop was from a Massachusetts insurance service provider database?

Mark Blaxill

It's important to be aware of the limitations of this study. Nowhere do they make clear what their diagnostic criteria or standards are, although (like the CA DDS data) this appear to be a service provider database and therefore biased to exclude cases at the margin. They claim they are reporting "patients with ASD" but provide no detail beyond that. They claim that they are reporting "incidence" but are really reporting only new cases registered in an administrative database, which is not really a valid measure of disease frequency, since age at diagnosis can vary quite a bit and does not truly reflect "incidence time." They claim in the discussion that their prevalance rate is similar to Denmark at 20 per 10K, but don't report their overall prevalance rate. Finally, they report only the case count for all children under 18 years of age, not the cases by age or birth year. That makes trend assessment tricky.

That said, if you divide 3500 cases by the Israeli child population of about 2.2 million, you get a prevalence rate of about 16 per 10K. Based on the diagnosis trend, it's probably higher for the younger kids and much lower for the older kids.

By comparison, Davidovich et al reported on full syndrome autism rates among children born in the Haifa area and born in the years 1988-93. That rate was 9.9 per 10K (26 cases in a population of 26,160.

Joachim Hieffitz

Israel does not mandate the MMR vaccine for its citizens. You can look it up.

Israeli data

Not for nothing do they call it the Holy Land. At least they report data as it supposedly occurs. Had it been the US or the UK, they would have fudged the findings to "even out" the data.

I would love to hear some "expert" explanation for the cause for the drop in autism rates in 2002.

what happened in 1999?

Thanks Kent. My son with autism was born in 1999. When I looked at figure 1, I see that 1999 has the largest ASD diagnosis. Anybody have any idea what happened in 1999? I've heard rumors that there was more mercury in the shots 1999 but no other explanation. What a worldwide disaster autism is.


I found this website which gives rates in Israel for 2007, but I cannot figure out how to see different years. I know most here are more computer savvy than I am:-)



Is there a way to acquire vaccination records for Israel?

Paula p Proffit Merckelos

The Centers for Disorders of Coincidence[cdc] believe it is "coincidental" Coincidence disorder has been on the rise. Coincidence disorder has been linked to greenbacks....

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