Good day and happy Friday, reader! This is Sy.
A new CDC autism report shows that autism rates are rising in US children. Given the tense history of claims (repeatedly debunked) that vaccines are linked to autism spectrum disorders, there may be an incentive in certain areas to get vaccines started as a potential root for this increase in diagnoses. The scientific consensus still strongly rejects this argument.
The autism-vaccine connection theory dates back to the turn of the century when a notorious and ultimately withdrawn paper was published in a respected medical journal. However, its effect has been long lasting, despite the joint efforts of physicians to ensure the safety of vaccines for patients and parents. The US has experienced a resurgence of preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough, and has led legislators to meet more stringent vaccine requirements. The rising number of autism diagnoses could heighten concerns about vaccines. (Again, these concerns are not confirmed by science.) According to a recent study by the Northern California Research Division of Kaiser Permanente, children with autism are actually less probably fully vaccinated.) [1
"Autism prevalence among black and Hispanic children is approaching that of white children," Dr. Stuart Shapira, Deputy Director of Science at the CDC Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disorders, in an opinion on the latest CDC figures. "The higher number of black and Hispanic children now associated with autism may be due to more effective use of minority communities and increased efforts to have all children screen for autism."
That's right: marginally improved access to and better representation of some groups can actually lead to a "rise" in autism rates and other diagnoses. But in a way that just means we get a more complete picture of what the underlying numbers are about.
Continue reading for the news of the day and enjoy your weekend.