In case you missed it (and this would have been easy to do given most of the media coverage occurred on July 4th), a study conducted by UCSF revealed that while genetics account for 38 percent of the risk of autism, environmental factors account for 63 percent. The study was conducted on 192 pairs of twins and will be published in the November issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
I’ve written before that I (like so many parents of children with Autism) have long believed that environmental factors played a role in Stone’s autism.
While this study has received some significant media coverage (including the New York Times on July 4th), I don’t think it’s received the type of attention deserved – certainly not when compared to the coverage given to Dr. Wakefield and the controversy around his studies earlier this year.
What so many people are missing is that even if Wakefield’s study was flawed (or a farce as some have claimed), this new independent and unrelated study shows that there is something going on environmentally that has caused the Autism rate to skyrocket 400% the past 20 years – to the point where it now affects one in 70 boys in the US!
To those who wonder if its simply better diagnosis and/or awareness accounting for these increased numbers I say get a clue. There is simply not mathematically possible.
While 90 percent of my time and energy is focused on helping heal Stone (because I do feel he’s been injured), there is still the 10 percent of me that wants to know what it was that caused this with him and millions of other children in the US. Knowing what is behind this epidemic will obviously help address it in the future – while also making it easier to determine steps parents can take to help their kids become more neuro typical and better adjust to and fit into this crazy world.
We all need as much help as we can get.