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Dachel Media Review: Autism in MN Somalis

Today's headline(s) with my commentary.Online news

Dec 17, 2013, Autism highest among Minneapolis' Somali and white children, U study finds

Dec 17, 2013, ABC News: Study: Autism Higher in Minn. Somali Children

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder is the same among Somali and white children living in Minneapolis, but Somali children tend to develop a more severe form of the developmental disorder, according to a new report released Monday by University of Minnesota researchers.

The study's data revealed that 1 in 32 Somali and 1 in 36 white children aged 7 to 9 were identified with autism in 2010 - numbers that are statistically indistinguishable, according to the researchers.

Both Somali and white children in Minneapolis were, however, more likely to have been identified with autism than their non-Somali black or Hispanic peers. The data showed that the prevalence of autism was 1 in 62 among the city's black children and 1 in 80 among its Hispanic children in 2010.

Overall, 1 in 48 Minneapolis children were identified with autism in 2010. That number is fairly close to the national parent-reported prevalence of 1 in 50 that was reported in March 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But it is much higher than the CDC's more official 1 in 88 estimate, which is based on 2008 data from 14 communities across the United States. (That estimate is expected to be updated in 2014.)

The 'why' is unknown . . .

No one can explain the why so many kids have autism in MN, especially the severe autism found among Somali kids. The spin, according to Dr. Steve Miles at the U of M, is that the numbers are 'reassuring.' They're near the latest one in 50 rate from the CDC. Amy Hewitt from the U of M, who was the lead author finds the more severe autism among the Somalis to be 'very interesting.'

Again, we're told this is acceptable and the cause--no one really cares.

According to Dr. Edward Ehlinger, the state health commissioner, 'this is taking a huge toll on our community.' He wants earlier identification.

Officials seem powerless and clueless---but not worried. No matter what the autism rate, everyone is supposed to remain calm and go one as if nothing is wrong.

ABC News

The incidence of autism spectrum disorder is higher among Somali children in Minneapolis than the city's children as a whole and it appears to affect them more severely, University of Minnesota researchers said Monday, validating the suspicions of many parents in the city's large East African community.

Somali children were more likely to have the disorder than non-Somali black children or Hispanic children in the city, the study found. The study didn't explore why and didn't speculate on possible reasons. But the findings back up the common belief among Somalis in Minneapolis that their children suffer from high rates of the disorder, said Amy Hewitt, the lead researcher on the study. . . .

Updated CDC estimates that are due out next spring, and will be based on 2010 data, are expected to show a higher national incidence partly because people are getting better at identifying the disorder, said Michael Rosanoff, Autism Speaks' associate director of public health research and scientific review.. . . .

The study was funded by the CDC, the National Institutes of Health and Autism Speaks. . . . .

"This is the largest study of Somali children with autism in the United States. I think it is a very important study that gives us information we didn't have previously," said Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, chief of the CDC's Developmental Disabilities Branch.

Another significant finding, Hewitt said, was that Somali children were far more likely to have an intellectual disability such as low IQ on top of their autism spectrum disorder than other children with it in Minneapolis.

"We don't know why. We just know there's a very significant difference in Somali children how ASD is manifesting itself," Hewitt said. "That's a really important future research question." . . . .

The findings came as long-awaited validation for Idil Abdull, co-founder of the Somali American Autism Foundation. She said she struggled for years to try to persuade officials there even was a problem. Abdull, who lives in Burnsville, said autism was essentially unknown in her native Somalia, but her 11-year-old autistic son barely speaks a word.

Federal and state agencies now need to find the cause and the cure, she said.

"Don't take another five years, CDC and NIH. You've got to come with your boots on and your hats on and do something about this, because these kids are as American as apple pie," she said.

Two times ABC News said that no one doing the study was interested in THE CAUSE. Why would they? If the CDC, Autism Speaks and NIH is involved, they have a vested interest in NOT talking about it. It opens too many doors. Incredibly, considering this is ABC and they're famous for backing the official denials about autism, but they include one autism mom saying, 'Don't take another five years, CDC and NIH. You've got to come with your boots on and your hats on and do something about this, because these kids are as American as apple pie.'

I was in Minneapolis in 2008 when the Somali community wanted answers about autism. David Kirby came from New York and many Minnesota parents attended a day long public forum.

I wrote about it for Age of Autism.

David Kirby wrote about it.

MN Somali dad Abdulkadir Khalif wrote about it.

MN Autism dad Tim Kasemodel wrote about it.

MN Autism mom Nancy Hokkanen wrote it.

We all wrote about the mindboggling autism rate of one in 28 among Somali children. We all wanted answers. This was a health care emergency. What were health officials going to do?

It seems that all that's happened since 2008 when the rate among Somali children was one in 28 is that there's been a slight change that statistic, now fixed at one in every 32 Somali children. If you look at how this study is being presented, it's clear that autism among the Somali is no real cause for concern. No one in charge is using the word crisis in speaking of a disorder without a known cause or cure. These kids have severe autism with accompanying intellectual disabilities. It's not possible to explain this away as "better diagnosing," as we're often told about the epidemic increase in autism. Something has dramatically impacted the health of an immigrant population in Minnesota and officials are unable to explain it after five years.

The most frightening reality here is that this is something happening to Somali children. No one is talking about this rate among older Somalis. This is a wakeup call for everyone. We can't wait another five years. How many more Somali children will be suffering from the effects of autism?

And someone somewhere should point out the fact that the taxpayers of Minnesota will be left with the cost of caring for this generation of children with autism as adults. (Among white children, it's a comparable rate of one in 36.)


Cherry Sperlin Misra

the most obvious cause of autism among the Somali's is the double vaccinating that has taken place as they immigrate to the U.S. If children born in the U.S. also have autism, one possibility to look at is that mothers may be eating fish. There are many immigrants from other parts of the world, who are simply delighted to discover that they can buy a cheap, delicious protein in canned tuna. This may be happening with Somalis too. Dr. Chris Shade, PhD, biochemistry, has explained why fish mercury (methylmercury) is hazardous and difficult to excrete: Methylmercury has a good absorption from the intestine and later the body tries to throw it out through the small intestine. Unfortunately,most of the methylmercury goes out into the small intestine and then transforms into another easily absorbable type of mercury- and it goes right back into the body from the large intestine. And of course, it moves easily into the fetus and into the breast milk.


Has anyone thought that one of the reasons MN has such high autism rates is that we have one of the highest rates of children insured and thus very high vaccination rates??

Doris didn't deny...

Carolyn F.,
As I mentioned elsewhere a public health nurse at a luncheon actually said in the presence of a woman who was ESL recently, that 'immigrants intermarry' and this could be an explanation for higher autism rate. I was absolutely disgusted with her lack of smarts and decency.


My adopted child had full vax records from Asia. I had titers drawn and despite having had measles and chicken pox naturally....showed no titers for a single shot. They wanted to repeat and I said no. If a titer test can't reliably show natural immunity then I will not reply on it to confirm vaccination uptake. I was done with vaccination roulette.

Carolyn Flannery

I was at a DAN conference and spoke to an immigrant parent. He said that his child had been fully vaccinated in their home country. But the doctor when they moved here insisted on giving all the vaccines again . Voila overnight autism. So sad. And it happens to adopted foreign children also. My doctor said he does Titres in that case but I think he is one of a kind.
Since the Somali mother said it is unknown in Somalia I do think we have our perfect genetically similar population for a vax unvaxed study.
I hope some official with courage decides to take that study on.

Very reassured.

As a person who works in the education field, I can't tell you how reassured I am feeling about this. It's all just so reassuring, this good news from Dr. Miles, U. Of M. That these 1/32 or 36 numbers approach the CDC's 1 in 50 numbers is just really great. Rest assured, they're doing their utmost to get to the bottom of it all.

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