Tuesday, August 02, 2005

On the autism-vaccine controversy

This is a topic of interest to at least a handful of Haverchuk readers. The rest of you may now return to your devil worship and Family Matters repeats.

A skeptical report in Slate includes the following:
A far more obvious explanation for the increase in autism rates in California was the one that mainstream autism experts expounded: diagnostic changes, new laws that expanded federal payments to care for autistics, and greater parental awareness of these resources. In 1990, Congress made autism one of the disabilities that qualified for federal funding. Thereafter, states were obliged to report all cases of autism. In a Minnesota study, to take one example, admissions of autistic children to developmental programs jumped starting in the 1991 school year and continued to do so for a decade. Often these increases occurred within the same grade. For example, 13 autism cases were reported per 10,000 Minnesota 6-year-olds in the 1995-96 school year—that is, among children born roughly in 1989. Five years later, the prevalence rate for this cohort was reported at 33 per 10,000. These were the same kids. Between the ages of 6 and 11, they'd suddenly "become" nearly three times as autistic—or rather, doctors, parents, and school counselors were enrolling them in programs more aggressively.


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