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New Numbers Raise Questions On Autism

Audio

Aired 10/6/09

People who work with autistic kids in San Diego say news of increasing autism rates might not be bad news. Studies of autism rates, by the Centers for Disease Control, have shown that one in 150 American kids suffered the disorder. But a new study in the journal Pediatrics, which surveyed the families of 78,000 children, showed the number was one in 91 kids.

— People who work with autistic kids in San Diego say news of increasing autism rates might not be bad news.

Studies of autism rates, by the Centers for Disease Control, have shown that one in 150 American kids suffered the disorder. But a new study in the journal Pediatrics, which surveyed the families of 78,000 children, showed the number was one in 91 kids.

"That's a lot," said Aubyn Stahmer, the research director of the autism discovery institute at Rady Children's hospital. "It's unclear what's causing the increase. Certainly some of it is that we're diagnosing more kids we have a broader diagnostic definition of autism than we had 20 years ago."

Autism can severely impair a person's ability to communicate. But Stahmer says identifying more autistic kids is a good thing, in one sense, because quick diagnosis and early intervention leads to better treatment. She says many of the new cases are high-functioning kids whose disability was harder to spot.

Comments

Avatar for user 'ccary'

ccary | October 5, 2009 at 8:21 p.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

I can't imagine what you were thinking when you headlined this story. One in ninety-one children diagnosed with autism could be nothing other than bad news! A lifelong disorder affecting over one percent of our children is a national emergency, not "a good thing".

I know and respect Dr Stahmer and I am sure her intention was not to be as hurtful as your editing of her quote portrays. I find it disheartening that the media chooses to focus on the percent of this increase that is likely to be based on better diagnosis rather than the very real increases of numbers of children with significant disability affecting their entire systems in profound ways.

Cherri Cary, Psy.D
President, Autism Society San Diego County
Parent of 101/2 year old boy with Autism

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Avatar for user 'dartz13'

dartz13 | October 5, 2009 at 11:13 p.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

The title is eye-catching. I do have some problems with this article, but I also have to look at it from a perspective of a doctor and scientist. Although, I know that there is no 100% cure yet for Autism, it would show some improvement in medicine if the autism rates lower. I do hope that in the near future that the rates won't be climbing but decreasing.

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Avatar for user 'gallantdiane'

gallantdiane | October 6, 2009 at 9:45 a.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

"Higher Autism Rates Might Not Be Bad News"

Someone thought this was a catchy title? It is much more than distasteful and repulsive. When my son was diagnosed with autism back in 2001, the published rates wavered back and forth between 1 or 2 per 10,000, to 1 in 500, which quickly changed to the official rate of 1 in 250, which was the official number for awhile, until it increased to 1 in 166 then 150. It amazes me that the medical community in general has paid very little if any attention to parental suspicions and claims, let alone the obvious increase we all have personally witnessed over the years. We may not all be doctors, but with this drastic of a rise, it is ridiculous to even hint at better detection.

HOW HIGH DOES THE RATE NEED TO RISE before someone realizes that.....smoking is dangerous to your health? (another controversy covered up for years by an industry until their lies could no longer dupe us all.) But the vaccine controversy is far more dangerous, because the victims are children who have no say in the matter, rather than adults who choose to use a controversial product.

(and before anyone gets on the rant about how vaccines have erradicated many lethal diseases, this is not about ANTI-VACCINE. It's about SAFE vaccines, with a personalized schedule to meet each child's specific needs, taking into account the state of their immune system and removing the toxins that have no reason to be there other than to save money while risking the health of our children.)

Tennessee Mom to a vaccine-injuried 11 year old recovering from autism

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Avatar for user 'Susan Murphy'

Susan Murphy, KPBS Staff | October 6, 2009 at 11:02 a.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

On occasion, headlines that require brevity may lead to misunderstanding. The headline has been adjusted to deal with the concerns expressed.

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Avatar for user 'ccary'

ccary | October 6, 2009 at 12:11 p.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

Thank you.

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