What causes Autism? Oh, let's see...recent reports would have us believe it is everything under the sun...except genetics. Parents everywhere are looking for someone or something to blame and for every parent wanting to point a finger, there are at least two quacks who will sell you a cause, a test for that cause, and a handy dandy cure.
1. Vaccines. Vaccines have been blamed on everything from AIDS to Cancer to Autism. Many parents of newly diagnosed children are looking at the MMR or Thimerosal. Oddly, it was the DTP (not given anymore due to the development of the DTaP) first blamed for Autism. Then it was the MMR. Then it was the Thimerosal. Now it is the aluminum. Personally, I am not convinced either way. I know several parents who did delayed and selective vaccinations and their kids still have ASD. I also know parents who did not vaccinate their children at all, yet the kids have ASD.
2. Ultrasounds - Oh yeah...never mind that Autism and Asperger's were around decades before the ultrasound. Never mind that ASD rates began climbing years if not a decade before free standing ultrasound shops in strip malls existed.
3. EMFs - I can say without a doubt, that my son was born before cell phones, beepers, satellite radio, and high speed internet were wide spread.
4. Advanced Parent Age - Yes boys and girls...older parents pop out kids with ASD! What is the definition of Advanced Parental Age anyway? Every family I know of, except my mother in law, was in their early to mid 20s when they gave birth to their child with ASD. Are we to understand that our prime baby making years are in our early teens? Has a study been done to investigate how many older parents know to seek a diagnosis? Hell, I didn't even consider the idea that my son could have autism until my MIL pointed it out.
5. Pitocin/Induced Delivery/Forceps and Vacuum Extraction - yes, the use of these things may have increased greatly. A recent study showed that for women with preeclampsia/PIH, induction at 37 weeks greatly reduces complications, harm, and death to the mother and baby. Another recent study showed that children born via induction actually experience lower rates of learning difficulties.
6. Food allergies/Yeast infections in intestinal tract/"leaky gut" - First, those things have also been blamed for everything from hair loss to cancer. Recent studies have also reported that the GFCF diet is largely ineffective to children with ASD. (let the hate comments fly. I am cold and unfeeling, what the hell do I care) Other recent studies have also shown that children with ASD are no more likely to have digestive problems than non ASD kids. In fact, what digestive problems do show up with kids on the spectrum are almost always attributed to their selective and nutrient poor diets.
Now I am all for exploring causation but where does it stop? Most kids are diagnosed after their second birthday. Should we investigate birthday cake or parties as a cause? Rates of Autism have increased along with rates of parents who breastfeed. Should we look at breast milk as a possible cause? Hey! My son started showing symptoms of Autism shortly after getting the Chicken Pox...not the vaccine, the actual virus. Maybe we should study a possible link for that? I took prenatal vitamins while I was pregnant, maybe they gave my son Autism! I went swimming often and took a lot of walks while I was pregnant. Could that be the cause? We moved just weeks before Alex showed symptoms. Could relocating cause Autism? My husband started going out to sea about three or four months prior to Alex being diagnosed. Maybe military dads cause Autism! See how how easy it is to just pick something out of a hat and link it to autism?
Why is it that studies showing no link are so quickly dismissed by parents and studies by people with questionable backgrounds and motives showing a link are clung to with a fanaticism only seen in Sarah Palin supporters and "birthers"?
To the guy (you know who you are) that wants to pin the blame solely on big medicine....they do not get a red cent from behavioral therapies. They are poorly reimbursed by insurance companies. DAN doctors make far more money per patient than a board certified pediatrician does. Companies making GFCF foods are rolling in it...yeah, no financial gain to be had by touting that cure. Mega vitamin makers convincing everyone from chiropractors to optometrists to promote their goods as an Autism cure are doing well. I see no benefit in big medicine when it comes to Autism. Yet, alternative medicine is making a killing off parents who are desperate. How many DAN doctors accept insurance? How many charge on a sliding scale? How many accept Medicaid? Who is really in it for the money?