What Really DOES Cause Autism? We Dunno?!

I remember after the initial stages of shock and denial once we learned our firstborn was autistic, I remember asking the questions, “How did this happen?” This is still the question that EVERYONE in the research, medical and autism awareness community is asking! No one knows for sure exactly what causes autism yet. There is much research and evidence that needs to be discovered to build momentum in one direction or another. The prevailing theories are that vaccines cause autism, genetic or biological markers cause autism, environmental factors cause autism, or perhaps a combination of any or all of the above causes autism.

Autism does not run in our family to the best of I am my wife’s research. We have a few family members that may perhaps be ever so slightly on the autism spectrum, but they have not been diagnosed and so that speculation is not definitive. When our first was born we provided him a vaccination schedule that was recommended by our pediatrician at the time. After we discovered his autism, we made it a point to be a little more cautious with our second, but he too received vaccinations and developed autism just under the age of 1 (when he was tracking down a fairly normal developmental path until then). With our third boy we have shifted to a alternative vaccination schedule that will provide him the vaccinations that we know are important to him, but they will be provided when he is older. With two autistic boys and one that currently is only showing developmental delays, we believe that there MAY be a possibility that a vaccination could be a catalyst to trigger any dormant genes that may be susceptible to producing autism. We wish we had the answer like many parents too. Parents today have very difficult decisions to make when it comes to vaccination of their child because there currently is no definitive answer on what causes autism. For others, the chance of acquiring the diseases or sickness that vaccinations prevent outweighs the potential threat of developing autism. There is no easy answer. Military parents have difficult decisions to make as well when they have a child with autism and learn they are going to have a second. “Do I run the risk with #2? or Do I throw caution to the wind and vaccinate anyway?” Especially in the limited beneficial resources such as military subsidized child care at military child care facilities. Trying to get your child into those without a standardized vaccination schedule is virtually impossible! So, it forces service members who are usually on tight budgets as it is to seek alternative child care elsewhere, or forces one parent to stay at home as in most cases.

Our belief at this time until provided proven, bona-fide evidence in one direction or another is this: We believe, based on our own digestions of the prevailing research of the day from all sources, that autism is most likely caused by having underlying genetic coding that is triggered by an environmental catalyst (of some kind, but NOT NECESSARILY vaccines).

A good, basic primer for your own investigation has been copied and pasted below for the start of your own personal research. Look into it yourself, look at all sides and arguments and come up with your own current understanding and belief until science or something Providential proves otherwise.

The information below comes from the National Autism Association and to link to this directly on their website you can click here:

WHAT CAUSES AUTISM?

You will hear many theories about what causes autism. To date, no one has found the exact cause of autism.

In the early 1950′s-1970′s it was thought that the mothers of children with autism were neglecting and not loving their children which in turn caused them to regress into a world of their own. These mothers were labeled “Refrigerator Mothers.” Thanks to Dr. Bernard Rimland, we’ve come a long way since then.

It’s important to do your own research into the various causes that are being investigated. We believe that families should have access to all information including environmental insults, vaccines, genetics, etc.

VACCINES

THIMEROSAL

Thimerosal is an inorganic mercury compound that is metabolized to ethylmercury and thiosalicylate and has been present since the 1930s as a preservative in some vaccines and pharmaceutical products to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination.

THE FACTS:

1) Mercury is hazardous to humans. The use of a toxic poison as a preservative is undesirable, unnecessary and should be eliminated entirely.

2) For decades, ethylmercury was used extensively in medical products ranging from vaccines to topical ointments as preservative and an anti-bacteriological agent.

3) Manufacturers of vaccines and thimerosal, (an ethylmercury compound used in vaccines), have never conducted adequate testing on the safety of thimerosal. The FDA has never required manufacturers to conduct adequate safety testing on thimerosal and ethylmercury compounds. Current evidence suggests thimerosal is neither “safe nor effective” when used as a preservative in vaccines.

4) There are over 1500 studies and papers documenting the hypoallergenicity and toxicity of thimerosal (ethylmercury) have existed for decades.

5) The United States is in the midst of a tragic epidemic of autism. An analysis of the US Department of Education data from 1992-1993 in comparison to 2000-2001 indicates that there has been an average increase of 644% among all US children. In addition, 13 states have reported an almost infinite or infinite increase in autism from 1992-1993 in comparison to 2000-2001. A review of children in US schools indicates that approximately 1 in 9 children in the US is currently disabled by the US Department of Education Statistics (see attachment). Recent studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association and Pediatrics have confirmed the autism epidemic is real and not due to changes in diagnosis, populational changes nor is it explained by other factors.

6) At the same time that the incidence of autism was growing, the number of childhood vaccines containing thimerosal was growing, increasing the amount of ethylmercury to which infants were exposed threefold.

7) A growing number of scientists and researchers believe that a relationship between the increase in neurodevelopmental disorders of autism, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, and speech or language delay, and the increased use of thimerosal in vaccines is plausible and deserves more scrutiny. In 2001, the Institute of Medicine determined that such a relationship is biologically plausible, but that not enough evidence exists to support or reject this hypothesis. Recent studies have confirmed the association between the use of thimerosal and autism has moved from “biologically plausible” to a “biological certainty” (Boyd Haley). Recent work by Dr. Mark Geier and David Geier in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons and Experimental Biology and Medicine have shown strong epidemiological evidence for a causal relationship between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders in children.

8 ) The FDA acted too slowly to remove ethylmercury from over-the-counter products like topical ointments and skin creams. Although an advisory committee determined that ethylmercury was unsafe in these products in 1980, a rule requiring its removal was not finalized until 1998.

9) The FDA and the CDC failed in their duty to be vigilant as new vaccines containing thimerosal were approved and added to the immunization schedule. When the Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenzae Type b vaccines were added to the recommended schedule of childhood immunizations, the cumulative amount of ethylmercury to which children were exposed nearly tripled.

10) The amount of ethylmercury to which children were exposed through vaccines prior to the 1999 announcement exceeded two safety thresholds established by the Federal Government for a closely related substance – methylmercury. While the Federal Government has established no safety threshold for ethylmercury, experts agree that the methylmercury guidelines are a good substitute. Federal health officials have conceded that the amount of thimerosal in vaccines exceeded the EPA threshold of 0.1 micrograms per kilogram of bodyweight. In fact, the amount of mercury in one dose of DTaP or Hepatitis B vaccines (25 micrograms each) exceeded this threshold many times over. Federal health officials have not conceded that this amount of thimerosal in vaccines exceeded the FDA’s more relaxed threshold of 0.4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. In most cases, however, it clearly did. As evidence of the growing concern of the adverse effects of mercury, the FDA has recently changed its permissible dose of oral methylmercury from 0.4 microgram to 0.1 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day.

11) The actions taken by the HHS to remove thimerosal from vaccines in 1999 were not sufficiently aggressive. As a result, thimerosal remained in some vaccines for an additional two years. Thimerosal remains in several vaccines and with the addition of the influenza vaccine now being recommended for infants, children are exposed to more thimerosal today than ever before.

12) The CDC’s failure to state a preference for thimerosal-free vaccines in 2000 and again in 2001 was an abdication of their responsibility. As a result, many children received vaccines containing thimerosal when thimerosal-free alternatives were available.

13) Thimerosal should be removed from all of these vaccines. No amount of mercury is appropriate in any childhood vaccine.

14) The CDC in general and the National Immunization Program in particular are conflicted in their duties to monitor the safety of vaccines, while also charged with the responsibility of purchasing vaccines for resale as well as promoting increased immunization rates.

15) There is inadequate research regarding ethylmercury neurotoxicity and nephrotoxicity.

16) There is inadequate research regarding the relationship between autism and the use of mercury-containing vaccines.

17) To date, studies conducted or funded by the CDC that purportedly dispute any correlation between autism and vaccine injury have been of poor design, under-powered, and fatally flawed. The CDC’s rush to support and promote such research is reflective of a philosophical conflict in looking fairly at emerging theories and clinical data related to adverse reactions from vaccinations

AUTISM AND GENETICS:

There are many in the scientific community who believe that there is a strong genetic component or pre-disposition to autism spectrum disorders.

It’s important to note that in the past 10 years of looking for the “autism gene,” none has been found which leads many researchers to believe that something had to TRIGGER the gene to turn on and cause autism.

According to officials at the National Institutes of Health, while there is most likely a genetic predisposition, there must also be an environmental component to autism. The rapid rise in the rate of autism over the last 15 years cannot be attributed solely to genetics.

Autism is no longer considered a heritable, genetic disorder. It is an environmentally triggered, therefore preventable and treatable disease. Environmental research holds the key to finding the cause and developing effective treatments for those affected.