Dr. Henry Paul, MD

Psychiatrist, Author and Educator

AUTISM – WHAT IS REALLY BEHIND THE RISING NUMBERS?

November 7th, 2014

“The dramatic increase in the number of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder is largely the result of changes in how the condition is reported,” Danish researchers contend in a study out this week, and I agree!

The Danish study says that the increase in numbers is due largely to the changes in diagnosing and reporting.

“As our study shows, much of the increase can be attributed to the redefinition of what autism is and which diagnoses are reported,” said lead researcher Stefan Hansen, from the section for biostatistics in the department of public health at Aarhus University in an interview with CBS News. “The increase in the observed autism prevalence is not due alone to environmental factors that we have not yet discovered.”

In the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 68 children have an autism spectrum disorder. The reported prevalence of the condition has increased over the past 30 years, according to the new study.

In the same CBS News interview, Amy Daniels, the assistant director for public health research at Autism Speaks, a New York City-based advocacy group, agreed that a significant part of the increase in autism has resulted from changes in diagnosis and reporting.

“The findings from this study are consistent with past research documenting the role of non-causal factors, such as increase in autism awareness, changes to diagnostic criteria and the increase in autism prevalence over time,” she said.

Scientists aren’t certain about what causes autism, but it’s likely that a combination of genetics and environmental factors play a role, according to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

I believe that autism is a neurological disorder and not an environmental one. There are plenty of new studies and research about Autism. I just posted a blog in September about a research study that indicates that children’s brains with autism fail to trim the synapses as they develop, and that if safe therapies can be developed to clear these synapses, there might be new hope for treating autism.

Now, the most important thing about autism is that people are talking about it. The medical community is stepping up its research, and medical professionals and schools are looking at treatment and accommodations to help those diagnosed with the disorder. We have a lot of work to do to understand and to treat autism, and that work has begun! Stay tuned.

For more on the Danish study visit CBS News “What’s Behind the Dramatic Rise in Autism Cases?”  For more on autism visit my recent blogs:

Children with Autism Have Oversupply of Synapses, Says New Study
Shock Em’ Out of Autism
CDC Says 11 in 68 Children is on the Autism Spectrum – So What Does That Really Mean?

DISCLAIMER

Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.


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