HEALTH:Tenfold Increase in Cases of Autism Alarms Doctors ; Dangers of Pollution, Pesticides and Eating Habits Must Be Investigated to Find Cause of Disorder, Says Leading Academic Food Calls for MMR Jab in the Way We Live May Be Behind the Huge Rise, Says Leading Academic - but No One Knows Which Changes
Lorna Duckworth Social Affairs Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
AN ALARMING 10-fold increase in cases of autism over the past decade prompted a leading academic to call for new research yesterday to establish the cause of the lifelong developmental disorder.
Dr Paul Shattock appealed for urgent action to find out what was behind the huge increase in cases, which he blamed on environmental influences and not just genetic predisposition.
Autistic spectrum disorders, which range in severity from classical autism to a milder condition known as Asperger's syndrome, are thought to affect 500,000 families in Britain.
Dr Shattock, director of the Autism Research Unit at the University of Sunderland, said there was no proof, one way or another, that the controversial MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella was responsible for the increase. Research into MMR's possible role in causing autism had so far been inadequate and a study planned by the Medical Research Council would not settle the issue, he said.
Many parents blame MMR for their child's autism, but the Government and nearly all doctors have declared the vaccination safe, warning that non- vaccination carries much greater risks for a child.
Dr Shattock's warning about the rise in autism followed an analysis of 6,000 people on the Autism Research Unit's database, which was published yesterday.
He said such a steep rise was unlikely to be caused simply by changes in diagnostic practice or greater awareness about the condition, which can result in severe language, behavioural and socialisation problems.
"Clearly there is increased awareness and understanding of autism and diagnostic criteria have changed slightly," he said. "But even allowing for this, all over the world there seems to be a big increase in [the] incidence, and we have to look at all the things that have happened in the meantime to see what is likely to be relevant.
"There are many possible reasons. Clearly, if there is an increase in numbers there must be environmental factors involved and there are many possibilities, all of which need to be explored.
"Our theories include everything that has changed - pesticides, infectious disease patterns, vaccinations, …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: HEALTH:Tenfold Increase in Cases of Autism Alarms Doctors ; Dangers of Pollution, Pesticides and Eating Habits Must Be Investigated to Find Cause of Disorder, Says Leading Academic Food Calls for MMR Jab in the Way We Live May Be Behind the Huge Rise, Says Leading Academic - but No One Knows Which Changes. Contributors: Lorna Duckworth Social Affairs Correspondent - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: April 5, 2001. Page number: 10. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.