| [The Sunday
Herald, UK. Thanks to Ray Gallup.]
The number of children diagnosed with autism
in America is
continuing to increase at a rate of more than
20% a year, according to the latest
figures published by the US Department of Health.
The figures show that in the year 1999/2000 the
number of schoolchildren in America with autism
was 65,396 compared with 53,576 the previous year.
Figures have risen steeply since the reporting
of autism became mandatory in American schools
in 1991. At first the increase was attributed
to better reporting of the condition but after
nine years some experts argue that the consistent
rise must demonstrate an actual rise in autism
The availability of the figures, published has
prompted calls from campaigners in Scotland for
a national autism register in this country. There
is no national register in the UK detailing the
number of children affected with the condition.
Parents argue that this makes it difficult to
provide adequate services and monitor increases.
It is estimated that up to one in 175 primary
school children are
Bill Welsh, chairman of Action Against Autism,
said: 'The USA statistics are incontrovertible
proof of the autism epidemic which is sweeping
the Western world. An epidemic which the health
authorities are shamefully trying to cover up.
'A request to the Scottish Executive, made almost
two years ago, to establish a register, by year
of birth, of autistics, would have confirmed that
this tragic condition had gone from rare to common
Dr Ed Yazbak, a retired American paediatrician,
insists that the increase is real and argues that
this can only be attributed to environmental factors.
He says vaccination may not be the only cause
but is convinced that it plays a part.
He said: 'These statistics tell us, not only that
there has been a huge increase in autism rates
in the last 20 years, but also that this increase
is not stopping.'
He also argues that the increase cannot just be
the result of better diagnosis because the same
diagnostic techniques have been used since 1994.
'The criteria for diagnosing children has not
changed and the people giving the diagnosis have
not changed therefore this must be an increase
in numbers and this must be due to environmental
factors. We may find that this is being caused
by something other than vaccination but it is
certainly not genetic because this happens in
the second year of life.'
The US has an extensive vaccination programme,
with babies given their first vaccine against
Hepatitis B in the first two days of life and
another two doses before they are 18 months old.
Children also have five doses of diphtheria and
tetanus, two doses of MMR, four of the Hib, (for
meningitis), one of chickenpox, four of the polio
vaccine and now four doses of a vaccine to prevent
ear infections before they go to school.
'There are definitely too many vaccines,' said
Yazbak. 'I don't think it is just vaccines but
it is pretty crazy to give vaccines on the first
day of life when the child doesn't need.'
Raymond Gallup, president of the Autism Auto-immunity
Project, a US campaign group, said: 'I attribute
this increase to over-vaccination. There
is no doubt about it and MMR is the most problematic
one. Children are definitely getting too many
vaccines too early in life.'
Last week the Scottish Executive announced that
children are to receive a booster shot of whooping
cough vaccine in the year before they start school.
On Monday the whooping cough vaccine will be added
to the combined diphtheria and tetanus booster
given to children in their pre-school year.
But Professor David Goldberg, deputy director,
the Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental
Health, believes the increase is due to better
recording and diagnosis of autism.
He said: 'The increases are likely to be due to
greatly improved case ascertainment.' Massachusetts
is known to have had the best health, social and
educational provision for autism, of any state
in the USA; it has recognised autism for longer
than any other state and therefore its figures
are likely to be most reliable. Interestingly,
the increase in the number of recorded cases in
Massachusetts was only 10%.