Utah autism rate holds steady, is no longer nation's highest

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  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 28, 2014 4:50 p.m.

    @andyjaggy – “As public awareness goes up, so will the number of diagnosed cases.”

    I’m troubled by your comments for two reasons.

    First, the quote above in no way explains the rise from 1 in 10,000 children (the rate only a few decades ago) to now about 1 in 100. That’s a 100 fold increase!

    Maybe better diagnostics would account for twice the rate or perhaps even five times the rate (although even that seems a stretch), but one hundred times the rate? No, there’s something else going on here.

    And your previous comments seem to imply that, well, it’s just too complex… we’ll never know… let’s move on.

    It may be complex but if we treated this like the national emergency it is and dedicated dollars to public research focused on cause and prevention, I bet we could figure it out.

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    March 28, 2014 3:30 p.m.

    We always want a clean and clear cut answer, there probably isn't one. Autism is caused by elevated serotonin levels..., that would sure be convenient if it were true, but I doubt it's that simple. Most likely it's the combination of a host of factors, both genetic and environmental. As always remember that it's the officially diagnosed number that have gone up, that doesn't mean that we didn't have just as many autistic people 10-20 years ago that simple were never diagnosed and never understood. As public awareness goes up, so will the number of diagnosed cases.

  • Anonyme Orem, UT
    March 28, 2014 8:19 a.m.

    Ann Blake Tracy: A 2013 Danish study (Anders Hviid et al) found that taking SSRIs during pregnancy does NOT increase the risk that a child will develop autism. The study did find, as you say, that children have a higher than usual risk when their mothers took the drugs for depression or anxiety before becoming pregnant. But the researchers concluded that a mother’s underlying mental-health condition is the factor behind higher autism risk. This is in line with the largest-ever genetic study of neurodevelopmental disorders and psychiatric illnesses (“Identification of risk loci with shared effects on five major psychiatric disorders: a genome-wide analysis”). It shows that many of the genes that predispose to depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and schizophrenia also predispose to autism.

    Dr. Paul Wang, senior vice president for medical research for Autism Speaks, said “These new results about SSRIs are reassuring. The decision to use any medication during pregnancy should be discussed by the mother and her physician. But depression can pose serious risks if it’s untreated. So it’s important to have safe treatment options.”

  • LittleStream Carson City, NV
    March 28, 2014 7:59 a.m.

    Being a grandparent of two autistic teenagers 18 and 17 I would really like to see more research done on this problem. I believe it is part genetic and a large part from the food we eat. There's going to come a day when many of our illnesses are going to be related to the food. You can't put poisons and chemicals into food and expect the people who consume them to stay healthy. One of the large reasons that as a family we now have a garden.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    March 27, 2014 11:15 p.m.

    A few short decades ago the United States didn't have this problem. What food additives are we allowing new that we didn't then?

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    March 27, 2014 11:11 p.m.

    This is a real epidemic and we are not sure what causes it. If I had to guess, I would guess the food. How does Canada compare to us? How about Europe? What food additives do we allow that they don't. If the FDA isn't regulating food properly, Utah perhaps ought to within its borders.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 27, 2014 9:47 p.m.

    If there was ever a poster child condition for why we need public research, this is it!

    There is no money (why private enterprise isn’t studying it) in finding the cause(s) and if preventable getting that information out to the public.

    The only money is in treating symptoms.

  • Ann Blake Tracy Logandale, NV
    March 27, 2014 8:58 p.m.

    I did not see mentioned that there has been a 30% increase in Autism nationwide just in the past two years. Autism has long been known to be a condition of elevated serotonin and the exact method of action of an antidepressant is to increase serotonin levels. Many things cause a serotonin increase: sugar, dairy, jello - all Utah favorites, but also antidepressant medications.

    With such high rates of Autism in Utah where we also have one of the highest rates of child bearing women taking antidepressants there was no mention at all of the connection for which lawsuits are already being filed. Resent research shows that a woman who is taking antidepressants during her pregnancy has a four times greater chance of having a child who suffers Autism as a birth defect due to exposure to the drugs in the womb. But they also have found that if the mother has taken an antidepressant within 12 months of getting pregnant that child has double the chance of being born autistic.

    Those are incredibly high numbers that should not be ignored when so many young women are being given antidepressants and are not warned of this possible birth defect.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2014 8:09 p.m.

    Autism has become a debilitating plague on so many families - 1 in 42 male births is autistic to some degree (even higher in Utah). Failing to pin down a cause is the greatest failing of modern public health and medical science. This is intolerable. In our zeal to slash public budgets, research into this matter must not be sacrificed!