By Sarah A LoBisco, ND
CDC- No Connection to Vaccines and Autism Risk?
Autism is a hotly debated topic in mainstream media and amongst many medical professionals. There are many different theories on the origin of Autism, treatments for this disorder, and various contributing factors. Recently, a new report has ignited even more fuel to this topic.
According to a new report that has generated significant debate in mainstream media and all over the Internet, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1 in 50 children between the ages of 6 and 17 has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This represents a 72% increase in the diagnosis since 2007, when a similar report claimed a rate of 1 in 88 children.
The CDC has issued a public statement that this increase in prevalence of Autism can be accounted for by better diagnostics of previously undiagnosed children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This was based on their report, Changes in Prevalence of Parent-reported Autism Spectrum Disorder in School-aged U.S. Children: 2007 to 2011–2012.
According to a recent blog in Huffington Post on the CDC’s conclusion:
DeStefano and colleagues analyzed information from about 250 children with autism and 750 children without autism, born between 1994 and 1999.
Children with autism were exposed to about same total number of antigens as children without autism at ages 3 months, 7 months and 2 years. There was also no difference between the two groups in terms of the total number of antigens they were exposed to on a single day.
What this summary highlights is that two children could get the same vaccination yet have two very different responses. One child could be absolutely fine and another child could experience a vaccination reaction. Why?
The answer is because different people have different predispositions, triggers, and mediators to specific disease processes. This reason alone is why no one treatment or “cure” will ever be found to work on “everyone.”
In a previous blog, I discussed the multi-factorial view I have on any disorder or diagnosis. Specifically, for children or adults with ASD, I look at the individual and determine if any or all of the following could be contributing to their symptoms to behavior:
- Mitochondrial disease and dysfunction-inability to efficiently use energy at the cellular level.
- Immune imbalances- from food sensitivities, factors related to pregnancy or prenatal development, increased susceptibility to infection, and the brain-gut barrier integrity.
- Imbalance of neural systems-a balance between the two legs of the nervous system and general nervous tone, brain neurotransmitters, and imbalances in the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, deep limbic region, basal ganglia, anterior cingulate gyrus, and/or the temporal lobe.
- Environmental toxins- which include second hand smoke, xenobiotics, phthalates, PCBs, organophosphate pesticides, herbicides, perchlorates, trihalomethanes, aluminum and mercury
- Medications-used prenatally, which can alter brain development or, potential current medication reactions including drug-induced nutrient interactions and deficiencies (a contributing factor to “side effects.”)
- Hormonal balance and blood sugar levels. For example, due to the prevalence of Autism in males, excessively high fetal testosterone levels may be contributing factors.
- Viruses such as measles, herpes simplex virus, varicella, cytomegalovirus that can manifest as chronic inflammation affecting brain or nervous system regulation.
- Genetic variations in enzymatic pathways that assist with various functions in the body, making higher doses of individual nutrients important.
Due to my individualized and functional approach to medicine, you can see why I disagree that this significant increase in the rate of ASD can solely be accounted for by diagnostic issues and lack of awareness.
A Study Wrought with Flaws?
According to an article in GreenMedInfo, the following issue with the study’s conclusions should be considered. (After reading the study, I also had the same concerns).
The primary flaw is that there is no comparison between vaccinated children and unvaccinated children.
Why would you want to investigate whether the degree of exposure affects a condition, unless you’ve already found that it actually causes it?
The study was a case-controlled variety. It used 256 children defined as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and compared them with 752 children who hadn’t been given the diagnosis. Reports that give these numbers, though, do not tell the whole story.
Any child who also had a diagnosis for fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Rett syndrome, congenital rubella syndrome, or Angelman syndrome was not included in the study. The stated reason was that they had “known links to ASD traits”. However, at least one of these conditions, Rett syndrome, is defined as a type of autism. It is not similar to autism. It is possibly the worst form of it. So, the authors of the study specifically eliminated the worst cases of autism from their trial!
They started with 771 potential ASD cases, not the 256 reported in the media, and 2,760 potential controls, not the 752 reported—and then they started eliminating subjects:
- 103 ASD cases (leaving 668 cases) and 316 controls (leaving 2,444 controls) were deemed ineligible. Why they were ineligible, we’re not told.
- Of the remaining subjects, only 321 ASD cases (48.1%) and 774 controls (31.7%) completed the trial. The reasons are not given. This is a significant factor. Notice that a far higher percentage of the ASD cases than controls completed the trial.
- Of the remaining controls:
- 12 of the remaining controls were eliminated because they had exclusionary conditions. (as described above)
- 10 controls were not included because they didn’t match any of the ASD cases.
- 186 controls were eliminated because they “had indications of speech delay or language delay, learning disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or attention deficit disorder, or tics, or had an individual education plan”. In other words, any indication of a developmental disorder resulted in removal of a child from the controls group.
- 27% of the original controls were counted in the study.
- The remaining ASD cases were not eliminated for the same reasons that controls were. Instead, a different set of criteria was used:
- They defined a set of criteria based on testing to determine which children would remain in the study.
- They eliminated any child whose diagnosis happened after age 36 months.
- 33% of the original ASD cases were counted in the study.
Vaccine controversy aside, the bigger picture is being missed.
Let’s go back to the multi-factorial aspects of autism.
In functional medicine, it isn’t just about chasing Alice down the rabbit hole in an endless attempt to find the only way into Wonderland bliss. In one child, autism could be a genetic variance that causes them to have an inability to break down the antigens from a vaccination. In another child, it could be for different reasons such as food sensitivities, emotional turmoil, or malnutrition. For another child, it could be a combination!
The trigger may be different for each individual, that’s where playing detective work and using a child’s health history, including prenatally, would help distinguish what sensitivities they have. The goal is individualized treatment.
The bottom line(s):
Yes, we do need more public and medical awareness to establish if a child is going to have a “vaccine reaction.” (One should pay special attention to those predispositions of gut dysbiosis, prenatal stress, birth trauma, or history of immune issues).
Diet and nutrition will interact with genes and we need to look at how diet affects our children’s moods, actions and cognition.
The contributions of the societal impact of viewing computers and phones as a social substitute are making it harder to have a genuine interaction with a child beyond a text lingo.
Yes, cultural schisms, political, and pharmaceutical big interests are all involved in our food supply and what’s presented as the mainstream choices for our health and children…
But, we still can choose with our pocketbook and voices (including our beliefs behind philosophical exemptions of vaccinations and testing on children with experimental vaccines).
The answer isn’t in one of the triggers of Autism. It’s in finding the cause and predispositions, removing the obstacles to cure, and coming up with a truly individualized medical approach, not a one treatment for one disease approach. It’s not working.
(++New blog on the carnitine-meat controversy at saratoga.com)
NVIC. CDC Reports 1 in 50 American Children Diagnosed with Autism. NVIC.org.
CDC Report 65. Changes in Prevalence of Parent-reported Autism Spectrum Disorder in School-aged U.S. Children: 2007 to 2011–2012. Adobe PDF file [PDF – 163 KB] March 2013.
DeStefano, F, Price, C, & Weintraub, E. Increasing Exposure to Antibody-Stimulating Proteins and Polysaccharides in Vaccines Is Not Associated with Risk of Autism. Journal of Pediatrics. March 6, 2013. http://jpeds.com/webfiles/images/journals/ympd/JPEDSDeStefano.pdf
CDC. Vaccines Not Associated with Autism. March 29, 2013. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention copyright. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/Autism/antigens.html
Rettner, R. Do Vaccines Cause Autism? CDC Finds No Link Between Number Of Shots And Disorder. The Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com). March 29, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/29/do-vaccines-cause-autism_n_2979244.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living&ir=Healthy%20Living#slide=more269707
Stevenson, Heidi. CDC Claim of No Autism-Vaccine Link Based on Junk Science. GreenMedInfo.com. April 2nd 2013. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/cdc-claim-no-autism-vaccine-link-based-junk-science?utm_source=GreenMedInfo+Weekly&utm_campaign=8831e9de77-Greenmedinfo&utm_medium=email
Dr. LoBisco. The Multifactorial Approach to Diseases: Autism Highlighted. http://dr-lobisco.com/multifactorial-approach-to-diseases-autism-highlighted/. August 19, 2011.
Dr. LoBisco. Functional Medicine-Why Test? April 6, 2012. http://dr-lobisco.com/functional-medicine-testing-why-test/