New evidence that autism is inherited, rather than induced by vaccines

Increasingly, evidence from neurologic research is pointing to the fact that autism is inherited, and that children with autism have abnormalities in brain architecture that start before birth.

What is autism?

Classically, autism is a disease of the brain that manifests symptoms before a child is three years old.

The child has difficulty with both verbal and non-verbal types of communication. For example, the child may have prolonged delays in developing meaningful verbal communication. He also has problems interacting with other people. He may have difficulty forming meaningful relationships with others. These children can also display repetitive (stereotyped) behaviors.

Recently, autism has been expanded to include some other closely associated psychological/neurodevelopmental disorders, like Asperger’s syndrome. Autism is now more properly referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

What causes autism?

Research hasn’t shown one single cause of autism. There are several factors that may contribute to a child developing autism.

Genetics seems to play a large role. Siblings of autistic children may have as much as a 30-times greater risk of developing autism as other children in the general population. Also, there is a much higher rate of autism occurring in monozygotic twins (twins who developed from a single fertilized egg) than in dizygotic twins (twins who developed from two eggs.) Though there doesn’t seem to be a single gene that codes for autism. Autism may come about from the interaction of several genes.

There are also other risk factors that seem to predispose children to developing autism. There is a higher incidence of autistic children in children who have “older” parents (over about age 30), mothers who develop diabetes while pregnant, meconium in the amniotic fluid, some maternal medications and, possibly some other factors.

No good evidence that vaccinations cause autism

There is no good evidence from reputable researchers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals that vaccinations, or thimerosal (a mercury derivative that used to be found in vaccines in small quantities) causes autism.

Claims that vaccines or their components caused autism date back to the 1990s. During that period, Andrew Wakefield, a British physician, deliberately falsified data to make it appear that vaccines were responsible for the development of autism. The original paper was retracted, the data repudiated and Wakefield lost his medical license for the fraud. But his research sparked the anti-vaccine movement.

Some parents, religious sects, naturopaths, chiropractors and others worked to publicize Wakefield’s false data. They pushed to be allowed to not vaccinate their children. As the movement spread, more children remained unvaccinated. Gradually, diseases that were preventable by vaccination (measles, pertussis and others) began to increase in the US and elsewhere.

What happened with the anti-vaccine movement is similar to what happened with the now-debunked Regnerus study on gay parenting. The data was manipulated to produce the desired result. Those people who are against gay parenting took it and ran with it, publicizing it wildly world-wide (in fact, as John and Becca have written before – they were the people behind the study in the first place).

In spite of evidence to the contrary, Regnerus’ university and department rejecting his conclusions, and the denunciation by the American Sociological Society and others, those who oppose gay parenting continue to use false data to achieve their ends. The anti-vaccine groups do the same. In spite of strong evidence to the contrary, they have fixated on their beliefs that vaccines are the cause of autism, and refuse to change their minds in spite of, and not because of, the science.

Increasing evidence of structural brain abnormalities

Animated MRI scan of the brain of a normal subject. Original files by Nevit Dilmen, Wikimedia Commons. Animation by Tekks.

Animated MRI scan of the brain of a normal subject. Original files by Nevit Dilmen, Wikimedia Commons. Animation by Tekks.

There is increasing evidence that children with autism have structural brain abnormalities.

Two studies show increase in brain volume in autistic children. One notes increase in head circumference in these babies. The other notes similar results based on MRI studies of the children’s heads. They say that there may be an overgrowth of some cell types in the cortex and that this may lead to autism.

A more recent study shows similar results on a microscopic level. The neurons of the cortex are arranged in layers. In autistic children, these layers are disrupted. There is a disarray in the structure of the cortical cells. This can be seen in specially stained photomicrographs. The brain tissue was taken at autopsy from autistic children who died and were between the ages of 2 and 15.

For these cortical layers to be disordered, the process probably started months before the autistic baby was born. The disorganization starting as the fetal brain was early in development.  More from NIH:

“While autism is generally considered a developmental brain disorder, research has not identified a consistent or causative lesion,” said Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of NIMH. “If this new report of disorganized architecture in the brains of some children with autism is replicated, we can presume this reflects a process occurring long before birth. This reinforces the importance of early identification and intervention.”

Here’s a short video showing the brains of children with autism:

So, more evidence is accruing that autism has a strong genetic component, may be influenced by other physical factors (as listed above) and starts in the prenatal period. While evidence that it is caused by vaccinations, or any components thereof, continues to be completely lacking.

Additional reading:
Early Generalized Overgrowth in Boys With Autism
Neuron Number and Size in Prefrontal Cortex of Children With Autism
Mapping Early Brain Development in Autism

Mark Thoma, MD, is a physician who did his residency in internal medicine. Mark has a long history of social activism, and was an early technogeek, and science junkie, after evolving through his nerd phase. Favorite quote: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science... is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny.'” - Isaac Asimov

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66 Responses to “New evidence that autism is inherited, rather than induced by vaccines”

  1. Gindy51 says:

    Smoking and the rise in the use of plastics might have something to do with it too. Perhaps the chemicals in those things can alter the genetics of the gametes of the users. If so, they could also alter the gametes of the successive generations and include a wide range of changes in many bodily functions.

  2. Moderator3 says:

    The vaccine connection has already been discussed. Why state it in Spanish?

  3. ita says:

    Sabemos que las ondas en el ambiente pueden producir leucemia y que el timerosal de las vacunas producen apoptosis y daño en el Glutation, obvio que modifica el cerebro.

  4. ita says:

    El descalabro de la vacunacion masiva con mercurio es tan grande que estan tratando de tapar el sol con un dedo. Suposiciones que las transforman en verdades.

  5. lilyannerose says:

    On a personal level I now have a brand new little grandson and I don’t want anyone who has not been vaccinated anywhere near him until he gets his vaccinations. These people are dangerous to other people. I grew up before vaccines for some of the more common illnesses and while most kids get over these illnesses with no lingering after effects they do endanger others.

  6. BillFromDover says:

    Good point.

    I would start with something in our air and/or water due to corporate profit induced pollution.

    Ya may wanna work your way from the top down with the Koch brothers industries.

  7. BillFromDover says:

    “New evidence that autism is inherited, rather than induced by vaccine?

    This header implies that there was once evidence linking the minute traces of mercury in vaccines to autism.

    Where was/is this supposedly medical evidence? Nowhere… never was.

    Conspiracy theorists bemoaning the intentional demolition of World Trade Center building #7, although delusional, are basically harmless to their brethren.

    Conspiracy theorists that refuse to vaccinate their children are seriously fucking shit up for all of us due to the reemergence of measles, whooping cough and other once eradicated infectious viral and bacterial diseases.

    I suggest the children of these ignorant parents be banned from from commingling with those of us that side with scientific research over witch doctor accusation.

    Then again, can we not simply dedicate a quarantined section of this country where these ignorant nut jobs can gather and unite until they wipe each other out… somewhere like, oh say, Mississippi or Texas?

  8. prince adam says:

    Nice to see Andy still get a mention. One day that man will get a groveling apology from
    the establishments.

  9. Henry Owen says:

    Take that, Michele “loony tune” Bachmann.

  10. docsterx says:

    Interesting information on Dirac. But again, we can only speculate. Take a look at “savant syndrome” for some additional info, if you’re already not familiar with it.

    To look at someone who has Asperger’s (now part of ASD) and is a savant, see Daniel Tammet. His book “Born on a Blue Day” is an excellent autobiography and description of someone living with ASD.

  11. quax says:

    Dr. Thoma,

    If there was an objective increase in Autism (rather than just more diagnosis) and it can be considered solely genetic, then wouldn’t we have to conclude that some traits associated with the Autism genes must convey enhanced genetic fitness in our current environment?

  12. quax says:

    Little kids tend to behave differently after being pricked with a needle, especially when there is some soreness that takes a while to go away.

    My boy is on the spectrum (very mildly), he was always just a bit different, he got vaccinated like all our kids, there was absolutely no correlation to his personality development (which I wouldn’t want any other way, anyhow). If there are external triggers they have to be present during gestation.

    Although never diagnosed, I am pretty certain my grandfather and mother were/are on the spectrum. Mild forms still allow a person to become fully functional and live very successful lives.

  13. quax says:

    JD certainly picked the wrong examples. But there is little doubt that one of the greatest physicist of the 20th century was on the spectrum:

  14. docsterx says:

    There’s no proof for the conclusion that any of those mentioned had Asperger’s/autism. Only some conjecture that it could be possible. Others have followed the same line of “reasoning” and said that Hitler, and Dahmer (the serial killer) may have had Asperger’s. To even guess that any of these men had Asperger’s, some of whom died centuries before that disease was even discovered, based on historical writings or snippets of information about them, is ludicrous. Oliver Sacks, neurologist, and others, dismiss these claims.

    Your grandiosity is overwhelming and false.

  15. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    What is your point? I understand you not liking autism referred to as a disease. Is that it? I suppose something like a disorder of the brain would have been better. Do you think we would object to someone saying that homosexuality has a genetic component? Hardly. We’ve been called diseased for a very long time, so that is hardly earth shattering.

  16. jd says:

    “autism is a disease of the brain” Do not forget that Leonardo, Issac Newton, John Adams, Edison and Einstein were all “diseased”. Just because the majority are uncomfortable around us they force us to conform to their ideas of social norms. Without us you would all be sitting around in caves having fantastic conversations.
    Imagine replacing the word “autism” with “homosexuality” and see how it looks.

  17. docsterx says:


    Excellent and compelling presentation of information in all of your replies. It’s always good to see a virtuoso at work. Thank you.

  18. docsterx says:

    Gillian Loughran,

    Please see the information provided by bpatient, below. S/he gives an excellent example of “genetic screening” as it’s able to be done today and a clear explanation of why a basic look at one (or a few genes) may not detect autism. Some diseases have multifactorial causes. As mentioned above, there is increased risk of having a child with autism if the parents are over age 30, if the woman develops gestational diabetes, etc. It would be wonderful (and easy) if autism were linked to one single gene. Then it could be tested for and, if present (or absent, as the case may be) the results of testing would cleanly make the diagnosis. But that doesn’t appear to be the case here.

    Additionally, the MRIs were done using some special techniques that are NOT routinely done in the usual brain MRIs. And, the children were very carefully positioned so that good comparisons wee able to be made when the subsequent scan on each child was dome at a later time, so that volume could be more accurately assessed. Brain volume is not reported on a routine MRI.

    The results from the study given in the post above (with the accompanying video) were done on histological brain samples taken at autopsy. and could only be measured if actual brain tissue were available for study.

  19. docsterx says:

    From the Centers for Disease Control: Since 2001, with the exception of some influenza (flu) vaccines, thimerosal is not used as a preservative in routinely recommended childhood vaccines. Thimerosal is only used as a preservative in multiple-use flu vaccine vials.

  20. docsterx says:

    Hardly. Thirty years ago, “autism” wasn’t as clearly defined as it it today. Additionally, parents, teachers, doctors, psychologists weren’t as familiar with it as they are today. Nor was there much information available to the general public. So the number of children diagnosed would be much lower.

  21. docsterx says:

    Thimerosal was used as a preservative in a number of injectable medications for decades without a reported increase in autism. Thimerosal was used as a preservative in: sterile water for injection, sterile saline for injection as well as some local anesthetics, vitamin solutions, antibiotics and others, not just vaccines. Millions of doses of these substances were given to all age groups from about the late 1950s on. If thimerosal caused autism, we should have seen a spike in autism that started then and continued for decades.

  22. cold340t says:

    Name calling for what reason? You work for Big Pharma? Yes, we still use thiomersal. Apparently, some react to it more then others, as evidenced by your response. :)

  23. Naja pallida says:

    The World Health Organization keeps track of vaccination rates around the world. It isn’t the number of vaccinations given to individual children, but the percentage of children who get vaccinated. Every country has slightly different schedules, but most cover the same basic list of vaccinations.

  24. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    Thiomersal hasn’t been used in the manufacture of vaccines for more than ten years. Where’d you find this old chestnut after all this time, eh? Idiot.

  25. Naja pallida says:

    In the US, Canada and Europe Thiomersal was phased out of childhood vaccinations around a decade ago, with the exception of some flu vaccines. It’s still used in many other countries though, and for some vaccinations not recommended for children. The MMR vaccine, which is often the crux of the conversation because it was mentioned by name in the “study”, has never contained Thiomersal. If that were the cause, we should have seen some positive change in autism rates by now… not to mention, I don’t see anyone blaming the consumption of fish, which also can contain mercury compounds.

  26. Huyie says:

    Type In – 414% Increase In Vaccines Given to U.S. Children
    Where did you get your information that western Europe has higher rates of childhood vaccination than the US? See chart (Number of Vaccines 6 years old)

  27. cold340t says:

    Do they use vaccines with mercury based preservatives? Cause we do.

  28. Naja pallida says:

    Oh, no doubt, it’s a truly stunning figure… but how much time do we have to waste with an already discredited study, before we allow real science to seek further answers? All the conditions covered in Autism Spectrum Disorder can’t possibly have the exact same cause, it is simply not statistically possible. It also doesn’t answer so many questions… like why is autism more prevalent in males than females? Why is incidence of autism in Mexico and western Europe lower than the US? Both have higher rates of childhood vaccination than the US does. These are things that the research has yet to explain adequately, and the conspiracy theories don’t even try to address.

  29. Naja pallida says:

    That’s the problem with a conspiracy. Proof is not necessary, and it can never be disproven as long as some people want to believe contrary to the evidence. It just stuns me one of the, now deleted, posts actually called investigatory research into the genetic causes of autism as a ‘waste of money’, simply because they have already made up their mind. Really? Autism Spectrum Disorder covers an astoundingly broad number of disorders, many with drastically different causation. So we should just stop spending money on research because they’ve declared they know they answer based on the word of one entirely discredited “scientist”… and what, Jenny McCarthy?

  30. cold340t says:

    Still, thats a pretty dramatic increase. Even if improved detection and/or the lumping in of close but unrelated disorders are the reasons.

  31. BigAl1825 says:

    The immunization connection can be ruled out. Entirely. Study after study has shown this to be the case. At what point is “enough,” “enough already.”

    We have to move on and focus on what matters and stop being distracted by settled debates. We can’t keep wasting time on a scam, one piece of falsified, discredited research, that started this whole boondoggle. Resources are too limited. Time, as in the time a person spends on this planet, is far too limited to waste our time with superstitious nonsense.

  32. BigAl1825 says:

    Rates of diagnosis have increased, not rates of autism. “Anxiety disorder” did not exist 100 years ago. No one had it. Now it’s 1 in 6 Americans. We aren’t more anxious; we’re more diagnosed.

  33. Self-promoting Elvis has left the building. I’m fine with deniers debating this. I’m not fine with people coming to push their commercial ventures.

  34. bpatient says:

    Although the main outcome measure of his since-retracted study was the “interval between exposure [to MMR] and first behavioural sign [of ASD]” reported “ by parents or doctor,” Wakefield selectively ignored the parents of three of the 11 children and thus changed his results to suit the predetermined conclusion of his litigation-driven study.

    Although the Lancet children were preselected precisely because their parents associated MMR with the onset of autism, Wakefield chose to suppress the claim of that association for three of the eleven children, and thus managed to dramatically decrease the calculated “interval from exposure [to MMR] to first behavioural symptom.” Wakefield included child 5 in his analysis of that interval in the August 1997 draft of his paper, but he removed that data from the published version. Wakefield noted “autistic spectrum disorder and bowel disorder following MMR” above his signature in the chart of Child 12, but then indicated in the final draft of his paper that there was no “exposure identified by parents or doctor.” Wakefield ignored that the mother of Child 9, like the parents of Child 5 and Child 12, clearly indicated that she believed that MMR caused her child’s autism.
    Wakefield reported, “Onset of behavioural symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children . . . ” Of course that’s not true, and Wakefield clearly knew it.

    Had he not eliminated three of the eleven children whose “parents or doctor” claimed that association from his calculated “ interval from exposure to first behavioural symptom” and not also conveniently decided that a respiratory infection one week following vaccination was a “behavioural symptom” of autism, the average “interval from exposure [to MMR] to first behavioural symptom” would have been so much longer that his paper would likely not have been published, and you would never have heard of Wakefield.

  35. bpatient says:

    “The latest research shows autism develops prenatally. This of course
    means that all those children who were healthy and happy, developing
    normally but who suddenly and dramatically got sick, stopped talking and
    regressed into autism were really autistic all along”

    Yes, that’s EXACTLY what it means.

    That’s why Dr. Eric Courchesne noted that these new information“changes the direction of [ASD] research from postnatal to prenatal.”

    Dr. Eric Courchesne’s ground-breaking study showed that the brains of children with autism show defects that arise in the middle stages of fetal development. Other recent work demonstrates that the brains of individuals with ASD have undergone abnormal proliferation of neurons during fetal development, leading to a 2/3 excess of neurons in prefrontal cortex, and that gene expression during fetal development differs both qualitatively and quantitatively from postnatal gene expression—and prominently features ASD related gene networks. ASD is even associated with abnormal formations on the placentas associated with pregnancies that produced children with ASD. Environmental factors identified as drivers of ASD risk include maternal infection, maternal diabetes, preterm birth, short inter-pregnancy interval, prenatal exposure to air pollution, phthalates and pesticides, and inadequate intake of folate just before and just after conception. According to the authors of a recent ASD-related study of all of the 1.5 million children born in Denmark 1980-2004, “The difference in the recurrence risk between full- and half-siblings supports the role of genetics in ASDs, while the significant recurrence risk in maternal half-siblings may support the role of factors associated with pregnancy and the maternal intrauterine environment in ASDs.”

  36. bpatient says:

    Hannah Poling’s mother recently wrote on your web site to ask that her child no longer be exploited by those with anti-vaccine viewpoints to support their predetermined positions. Mrs. Poling stated that her daughter was compensated for a vaccine table injury, not for autism.

    Why do you continue to exploit that child?

  37. Naja pallida says:

    What that chart fails to capture is that dozens, if not hundreds, of other disorders have been lumped into ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’ in that time as well. Like one of the cases mentioned below, a girl developed encephalopathy because of a mitochondrial disorder, and the symptoms present vaguely like those seen in autism, so it’s autism. Twenty years ago, nobody would have conflated them.

  38. bpatient says:

    How interesting that you consider compensation for encephalopathy to be proof of vaccine injury. Of course, that’s just not true. For example, you might consider the cases featured in Mary Holland’s nonscientific Pace/Ebcala review. As I recall, more than half of the 83 cases involved encephalopathy; almost all of the cases involved seizure disorders (three had encephalopathy only); more than half the cases involved encephalopathy. The great majority of those cases involved exposure to whole-cell pertussis vaccine.

    Such cases have been repeatedly shown by multiple groups of independent investigators to be due to pre-exisiting mutations rather than to vaccination. This has been known for years. These mutations (more than 800 mutations are known in SCN1A, the gene most commonly affected) cause a range of disorders from benign febrile seizures and generalized epilepsy with febrile seizures plus to intractable seizures including Dravet syndrome (severe myoclonic epilepsy in infancy); the more severe seizure disorders are usually associated with the onset of autistic symptoms, and/or cognitive decline following a period of apparently normal development. Mutations in this gene can also cause cognitive impairment without seizures.

    Neurons cultured from pluripotent stem cells derived from the skin of such allegedly “vaccine-injured” people are defective in ways that entirely explain the symptoms and contain mutations that cause similar syndromes in unvaccinated laboratory animals. Really, it just can’t get much clearer than this—the explanation is genetic—but, notably, many such cases are due to de novo mutations (such as those that arise in the father’s sperm) and are not carried by either parent. Your suggestion that “the vaccine causes the encephalopathy and the encephalopathy causes the autism” is clearly wrong, as even a brief attempt to understand the scientific literature could have shown you:

    –Wiznitzer M. Dravet syndrome and vaccination: when science prevails over speculation. Lancet Neurol. 2010 Jun;9(6):559-61.

    –Reyes IS, Hsieh DT, Laux LC, Wilfong AA. Alleged Cases of Vaccine Encephalopathy Rediagnosed Years Later as Dravet Syndrome. Pediatrics. 2011 Aug 15.

    –Berkovic SF et al. De-novo mutations of the sodium channel gene SCN1A in alleged vaccine encephalopathy: a retrospective study. Lancet Neurol. 2006 Jun;5(6):488-92.

    –Li BM et al. Autism in Dravet syndrome: prevalence, features, and relationship to the clinical characteristics of epilepsy and mental retardation. Epilepsy Behav. 2011 Jul;21(3):291-5

    –Catarino CB et al. Dravet syndrome as epileptic encephalopathy: evidence from long-term course and neuropathology. Brain. 2011 Oct;134(Pt 10):2982-3010.

    –Okumura A et al. Acute encephalopathy in children with Dravet syndrome. Epilepsia. 2011 Nov 16.

    –Wolff M et al. Severe myoclonic epilepsy of infants (Dravet syndrome): natural history and neuropsychological findings. Epilepsia. 2006;47 Suppl 2:45-8.

    –Bender AC et al. Focal Scn1a knockdown induces cognitive impairment without seizures. Neurobiol Dis. 2013 Jun;54:297-307.

    –Li BM et al. Autism in Dravet syndrome: prevalence, features, and relationship to the clinical characteristics of epilepsy and mental retardation. Epilepsy Behav. 2011 Jul;21(3):291-5.

  39. bpatient says:

    Does your new book explain that abnormal prenatal proliferation of neurons early in gestation produces a 2/3 excess of neurons prefrontal cortex of individuals with ASD? Does your book explain that abnormal development of cortical areas of the brain arises in ASD during gestation? Does your book explain that abnormal development of areas of the placenta is associated with ASD? Does your book explain that levels of the MECP2 gene product, which regulates numerous developmentally important genes (and which, when mutated to produce abnormal product levels in Rett syndrome, causes autistic symptoms following apparently normal development) are abnormal in brain samples from individuals with autism? Does your book address the fact that all of the children with ASD that were evaluated in a recent pulmonary study showed abnormal branching of their airways in a pattern that must date from about the tenth week of gestation, while none of hundreds of typically-developing children showed that pattern? Does your book address the fact that subtle dysmorphic features that date from early in gestation are much more common in individuals with ASD than in their typically-developing peers? Does your book address the fact that genes associated with the development of ASD are expressed during mid-fetal development?

    Or did you just blame postnatal vaccines, despite the overwhelming evidence that ASD begins in the womb?

  40. cold340t says:

    So from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 65 over last 30yrs. is all inherited? I see?

  41. Huyie says:

    Abnormalities in brain architecture that start before birth, or normal, just different brain structure than the vast majority of people, that may lend some children more vulnerable to vaccine induced autism?

  42. Anne Dachel says:

    I recently finished writing the book, The Big Autism Cover-Up: How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American People, which will be released this fall from Skyhorse Publishing.
    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  43. Anne Dachel says:

    On Fox News, May 10, 2011, New York University law professor Mary Holland discussed the fact that a stunning report from Pace Law School revealed that for years, parents have won vaccine damage suits resulting in autism in federal court, all the while the government denied doing so.
    Dr. Sarah Bridges was on Fox News in 2011 talking about how son developed autism following routine vaccinations. The government agreed and she was awarded a $7 to $8 million settlement for lifetime care.
    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  44. Anne Dachel says:

    In 2008, the big story was about Hannah Poling, the Georgia girl who was awarded millions in compensation for vaccine damage that included autism.
    CBS News:
    CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviewed Dr. Jon Poling, a neurologist and father of Hannah Poling,
    Gupta talked about “her case of autism diagnosis” (conceding that yes, Hannah Poling has autism), “having been contributed to by vaccines.”
    Dr. Poling: “The department of Health and Human Services conceded my daughter’s medical problems which are autism, encephalopathy, seizures, were brought on by vaccina…tion.”
    Dr. Gupta: “That’s startling, I think, for a lot of people to hear that.” He acknowledged that, in Hannah Poling’s case, vaccines “turned out to be a problem.”
    Dr. Poling: “Until I saw a normal, eighteen month old toddler descend into autism, I wouldn’t have believed it was possible.”
    Fox News on Hannah Poling and damage cases.
    It’s clear to parents that we’re never going to see fair and balanced coverage of the vaccine-autism controversy.
    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  45. Anne Dachel says:

    Officially, autism has no known cause, prevention or cure. There’s nothing a mainstream doctor can tell a new mother so that her child that was born healthy and is developing normally doesn’t also end up on the autism spectrum by age two. In the face of these facts, no health official has ever called autism a crisis. “Serious public health concern is the strongest language used by anyone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding autism.

    Millions of dollars have been wasted on research looking for the genetic cause of autism, with no definitive results. Other studies link autism to the behavior of the mother. Autism has been linked to older moms, moms who marry older dads, moms who drink, moms who smoke, fat moms, moms who have babies too close together, and moms who live too close to freeways. The latest research shows autism develops prenatally. This of course means that all those children who were healthy and happy, developing normally but who suddenly and dramatically got sick, stopped talking and regressed into autism were really autistic all along.

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  46. Anne Dachel says:

    The reason so many parents link vaccines to their children’s autism is because they watched healthy, normally developing children suddenly and dramatically regress into autism following routine vaccinations. Doctors couldn’t explain it. The only thing they were sure of is that their ever-expanding vaccine schedule isn’t to blame—and they have lots of pharma-funded studies to prove it.
    VACCINE SCHEDULE: This link shows the dramatic increase in the number of vaccine our children received between 1983 and 2012.
    Where is even one study on the cumulative effect of the increasing number of vaccines in the childhood schedule? THERE
    ISN’T ONE.
    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  47. Anne Dachel says:

    Bought is an upcoming film about the issue of health being sold out from underneath individuals through big pharmaceutical companies, dangerous vaccinations and a food supply chain contaminated by the use of GMO’s.
    The short trailer to the movie The Greater Good, makes it clear that there are experts on both sides and a lot of serious questions that need to be asked. The medical community and health officials promote vaccines as the greatest achievement in modern medicine yet there is growing fear over vaccine side effects.
    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  48. Anne Dachel says:

    Oct 7, 2009 CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson interviewed Andrew Wakefield: Controversy Over Vaccine Research

  49. Anne Dachel says:

    Those who want to know the truth about Andrew Wakefield, you’ll find it in his book, Callous Disregard. One thing need to be realized. The British government indemnified the maker of the MMR vaccine. It’s the UK government that will ultimately be held responsible for the damage from this vaccine. Is it any wonder that he’s been so vilified?
    I wrote this story for Age of Autism about how the media fails to honestly cover the role of Dr. Wakefield.
    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  50. Anne Dachel says:

    Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Scientific Officer in the UK talked about the MMR vaccine in the Daily Mail in 2006:

    “[Fletcher] said he has seen a ‘steady accumulation of evidence’ from scientists worldwide that the measles, mumps and rubella jab is causing brain damage in certain children.
    “But [Fletcher] added: ‘There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves.'”

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  51. Anne Dachel says:

    The stunning movie, Hear the Silence,
    stars the outstanding British actor, Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), as Dr. Wakefield. (The movie is in English with Hebrew subtitles.)

    I interviewed Dr. Wakefield about the making of this film.

    Anne Dachel, Medical editor: Age of Autism

  52. Anne Dachel says:

    Dr. Andrew Wakefield was attacked by the British medical establishment for daring to suggest that the MMR vaccine had serious side effects.
    To understand the damage from the MMR, listen to the parents of the injured children. They came to Dr. Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist, for help when their healthy children suddenly regressed into autism and bowel disease after being vaccinated with the MMR vaccine.
    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  53. Anne Dachel says:

    Someone will have to explain how a genetic disorder can be increasing at the rate autism is. The rate isn’t even mentioned here.This is what has happened to autism in this country.
    1980: 1 in 10,000 children
    In 1994 the definition of autism was broaden and the numbers increased dramatically.
    1995: 1 in 500 children
    2001: 1 in 250 ”
    2004: 1 in 166 ”
    2007: 1 in 150 ”
    2009: 1 in 110 ”
    2012: 1 in 88 ”
    2014: 1 in 68 ”
    Each time the rate was updated health officials automatically announced that it was no real increase–just better diagnosing/a broader definition. The definition was changed 20 years ago. Why does the rate continue to increase?
    No matter how bad the rate gets, no official can ever explain it and no one is ever worried. The truth is whenever we talk about autism, we’re talking about CHILDREN WITH AUTISM. The rate comes from studies of eight year olds, not eighty year olds. No one has ever been able to show us a comparable rate among adults–especially adults with severe autism whose symptoms are easily recognized. All these facts are proof that something is dramatically impacting the health of our children and we’re doing nothing about it.
    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  54. Naja pallida says:

    In short, genetic conditions are very difficult to test for unless you know exactly what you’re looking for.

  55. loona_c says:


  56. Truth. says:

    “parents of autistic children are desperate for something, anything to blame for their child’s condition.”

    Precisely correct.

  57. Denial. says:

    I would say…
    It’s in your genes, and it *still* isn’t vaccines.
    You can’t see genes on a MRI either.

  58. Whats in that? says:

    “I don’t think”

    Exactly. Just saying…

  59. bpatient says:

    Gillian Loughran, unless your child’s entire genome was very recently sequenced and carefully analyzed in a research project, it’s likely that your child was simply screened for a relatively small number of alleles that have turned up in cases of ASD. A negative result on such a test most certainly doesn’t mean that your child was genetically “the same as a normal healthy child”; it just means that you don’t yet have a clear genetic explanation for your child’s autism.

    Let me give you a clear example of why this is so. Because the MECP2 gene is mutated in a relatively small number of cases of ASD (some MECP2 mutations cause regression following a period of apparently normal development in Rett syndrome, which—until its specific cause was recognized a few years ago was considered part of the Autism spectrum) it is included in some ASD genetic screens. Of course, the MECP2 gene is entirely normal in most cases of ASD, and your child would, on that account, seem “the same as a normal healthy child” if
    checked for mutations in that gene.

    However, the levels of the MECP2 gene product are abnormal in post mortem brain samples from individuals with a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders, including in most samples from people with ASD. The level of the gene product is crucial, since the protein regulates the
    expression of numerous other developmentally important genes. So, in individuals with ASD, it seems as if the regulation of numerous genes required for normal brain development would be perturbed due to abnormal levels of a protein that regulates their expression—but a genetic screen for mutations in the ASD-related MECP2 gene would return a normal result.

    Within a few years, complete genome sequencing will cost little more than an MRI. Until then, it will be useful to understand the limited nature of available genetic screens for ASD.

  60. zerosumgame0005 says:

    possibly that at that time the people evaluating the results were not aware of what to look for? these seem like pretty subtle differences after all.

  61. loona_c says:

    Oh I totally agree with you about the necessity of getting immunizations. I’m just saying I don’t think the immunization connection can be totally ruled out.

  62. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    I’d rather take the teensy tiny risk (if any even exists) of my child’s somehow being given autism (what’s the mechanism supposed to be anyway?), which is not fatal, than the much larger risk of their getting measles or diphtheria, which without vaccination were very often fatal. God, people are stupid.

  63. loona_c says:

    As the saying goes, I don’t have a dog in this hunt. But I think you can’t rule out immunizations entirely. Perhaps they trigger this brain problem? There are numerous annecdotal stories of families noticing the difference in their child’s behavior right after getting immunizations. Just saying…

  64. Gillian Loughran says:

    Dr Thoma what would you say to the many parents of children with autism, such as myself, whose children underwent brain MRI scans and genetic tests and nothing showed up. The results were normal….the same as a normal healthy child. How would you explain this?

  65. bkmn says:

    Thank you for the update Dr. Thoma. I really appreciate your drawing attention to the parallels with the Regnerus study. I believe both Regnerus and Wakefield demonstrate a principle often used on the right – repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it. There is no tie between being gay and being a pedophile but there are tons of people that believe that lie because they have heard it since they were kids (aka indoctrination).

    As for the parents of autistic children I think they are desperate for something, anything to blame for their child’s condition. The Wakefield lie gives them that sense that something outside of their direct influence was the cause. I fear that preventable epidemics will become more common as the not-vaccinated generation ages.

    The newer finds that genetics and paternal age play a roll will be a harder sell to the parents as that points the cause onto them.

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