Vaccine role in autism rise needs more study

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Reports of autism nearly doubles in California
A report issued by the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) reveals that California's autism population nearly doubled between 1999 and 2002 and the population of individuals with full syndrome autism served by DDS increased by 634% between 1987 and 2002. This report of continuing dramatic increases of autism in children follows a report released by the U.S. House Government Reform Committee on May 3rd, which criticized the use of mercury preservatives in vaccines and pointed out the relationship between the increasing numbers of vaccines American children have received in the past two decades and the unexplained rise in autism in the United States.

"These two reports point to the need for methodologically sound, unbiased research into the relationship between autism and vaccines. The questions about why so many of our healthy children are regressing after vaccination and becoming chronically ill, disabled children must be addressed by government, industry and medicine in a credible way or parents are going to continue to lose faith in the integrity of the mass vaccination system," said Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). The California autism figures did not include children less than three years of age; those with other autistic spectrum disorders (ASD); those who have not entered California's voluntary developmental services system; or those who are suspected of having autism but have not yet been diagnosed. Rick Rollens, father of an autistic son and co-founder of UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute, which is independently investigating the potential causes of autism increases, said, "We now know that genes alone cannot create an autism epidemic and clearly there are other environmental factors, including vaccines, involved."

The U.S. Government Reform Committee report pointed to inadequate research into the relationship between autism and the widespread use of pediatric mercury-containing vaccines and criticized the FDA and CDC for not taking aggressive enough steps to remove mercury from vaccines. At the May 3rd press conference in Chicago where the report was released, former Committee chair Congressman Dan Burton said he believed there were too many conflicts of interest in the vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking roles of federal health agencies and the influence of vaccine manufacturers on federal health agency decisions regarding vaccines.

The NVIC is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1982 by parents of vaccine injured children. For more information, go to www.nvic.org.

SOURCE: NVIC Media Advisory, May 13, 2003.

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