1-in-50 U.S. school kids has autism: Gov’t survey

A government survey of parents says 1-in-50 U.S. schoolchildren has autism, surpassing earlier federal estimate for the disorder. Health officials say the new number doesn’t mean autism is occurring more often. But it does suggest that doctors are diagnosing autism more frequently, especially in children with milder problems. The earlier government estimate of 1-in-88 comes from a study that many consider more rigorous. It looks at medical and school records instead of relying on parents.

For decades, autism meant kids with severe language, intellectual and social impairments and unusual, repetitious behaviors. But the definition has gradually expanded and now includes milder, related conditions. The new report released on March 20, 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would mean at least 1 million children have autism. The number is important: Government officials look at how common each illness or disorder is when weighing how to spend limited public health funds. It’s also controversial.

The new statistic comes from a national phone survey of more than 95,000 parents in 2011 and 2012. Less than a quarter of the parents contacted agreed to answer questions, and it’s likely that those with autistic kids were more interested than other parents in participating in a survey on children’s health, CDC officials said. Still, CDC officials believe the survey provides a valid snapshot of how many families are affected by autism, said Stephen Blumberg, the CDC report’s lead author.

The study that came up with the 1-in-88 estimate had its own limitations. It focused on 14 states, only on children 8 years old, and the data came from 2008. Updated figures based on medical and school records are expected next year. “We’ve been underestimating” how common autism is, said Michael Rosanoff of Autism Speaks, an advocacy group. He believes the figure is at least 1-in-50.

There are no blood or biologic tests for autism, so diagnosis is not an exact science. It’s identified by making judgments about a child’s behavior. Physicians have been looking for autism at younger and younger ages, and experts have tended to believe most diagnoses are made in children by age 8. However, the new study found significant proportions of children were diagnosed at older ages.

Dr. Roula Choueiri, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said she’s seen that happening at her clinic. Those kids “tend to be the mild ones, who may have had some speech delays, some social difficulties,” she wrote in an email. But they have more problems as school becomes more demanding and social situations grow more complex, she added.

The greatest change in prevalence estimates was seen in boys and for adolescents aged 14 to 17 years old. Also, children who were first diagnosed in or after 2008 were more likely to have milder autism than those diagnosed in or before 2007, which may be because of increased awareness among parents and doctors and better diagnostic testing.

 

References 

Blumberg SJ, Bramlett MD, Kogan MD, Schieve LA, Jones JR. Changes in Prevalence of Parent-reported Autism Spectrum Disorder in School-aged U.S. Children: 2007 to 2011–2012. National Health Statistics Reports 2013; Number 65: 1-11.

Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2008 Principal Investigators; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders–Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 sites, United States, 2008. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2012; 61 (3): 1-19.

 

 

Hofmann’s Potion

This documentary offers a compassionate, open-minded look at LSD and how it fits into our world. Long before Timothy Leary urged a generation to “tune in, turn on and drop out,” the drug was hailed as a way to treat forms of addiction and mental illness. At the same time, it was being touted as a powerful tool for mental exploration and self-understanding.

Featuring interviews with LSD pioneers, beautiful music and stunning cinematography, this is much more than a simple chronicle of LSD’s early days. It’s an alternative way of looking at the drug… and our world. (National Film Board of Canada, 2002)

Mad Child Disease (Lecture)

Is the autism epidemic a “mad child disease” linked to mercury? This lecture was presented by Boyd Haley, Ph.D. at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness held in San Diego, California; June 2004.

Awakenings: Encephalitis lethargica and L-DOPA

This is the remarkable story of a group of patients who contracted sleeping-sickness during the great epidemic just after World War I. Frozen for decades in a trance-like state, these men and women were given up as hopeless until 1969, when Dr. Oliver Sacks gave them the then-new drug L-DOPA, which had an astonishing, explosive, “awakening” effect (the drama film Awakenings 1990).

The following text is an edited excerpt from an article by Foster and Hoffer [2004]:

 

“Encephalitis lethargica is a viral epidemic encephalitis that occurred in many parts of the world between 1915 and 1926. Also known as sleeping sickness or sleepy sickness, those who survived the initial infection typically displayed long term apathy, paralysis of the extrinsic eye muscles and extreme muscular weaknesses [Sacks 1982]. There is still disagreement over which virus was involved in this disease but the disorder often preceded Parkinsonism, suggesting that there must have been similarities in neurological damage. Although little or nothing has been published on the roll of oxidative stress in Encephalitis lethargica, damage by reactive oxygen species has been implicated in other forms of such disorders, as for example in Japanese encephalitis [Liao et al. 2003].”

“In 1969, Sacks [1983] began treating Encephalitis lethargica patients, some of whom had been catatonic for years, with high doses of L-DOPA. The dramatic improvements that followed were later documented in his book Awakenings and in a film of the same name [Sacks 1982, Awakenings 1990].”


Watch Awakenings

“It was discovered through the use of L-DOPA by Parkinson’s disease patients that, although its initial results were dramatically effective, a growing tolerance to it developed. This resulted in a need to increase dosages over time. Eventually side-effects of the drug, such as dyskinesias (abnormal movements), gastrointestinal symptoms, insomnia, hallucinations and even psychosis, became worse than its benefits [Katzenschlager and Lees 2002].”

“A similar picture emerged in the treatment of Encephalitis lethargica patients. Sacks [1982, screenplay Awakenings 1990] described treating 20 such patients with L-DOPA. The initial dose was 500 mg daily but, if required, was increased gradually to 6 g. Many patients showed great early progress, which Sacks termed an Awakening. Unfortunately, this dramatic improvement in health began to reverse. Sacks’ book Awakening first appeared in 1973. By the time his revised 1982 edition was published, seventeen of his patients were dead, mainly from Parkinsonism and all had relapsed. Sacks [1982] describes the experiences of an Encephalitis lethargica patient receiving high dose L-DOPA as follows:

For the first time, then, the patient on L-DOPA enjoys a perfection of being, an ease of movement and feeling and thought, a harmony of relation within and without. Then his happy state – his world – starts to crack, slip, break down, and crumble; he lapses from his happy state, and moves toward perversion and decay.”

“The evidence just presented suggests that dopamine deficiency probably plays an important role, not just in Parkinson’s disease, but also in Encephalitis lethargica” … “However, attempts to correct such deficiencies with L-DOPA, especially at high dosages, while initially beneficial appear to quickly produce a wide range of negative side effects.”

“The most logical interpretation of the L-DOPA experience is that patients with untreated Parkinson’s disease, Encephalitis lethargica” … “all display two distinct types of symptoms. Some of these are due directly to a deficiency of dopamine and are quickly improved by L-DOPA. A second set of symptoms, however, are the result of neurological damage caused by the metabolites of dopamine. The use of L-DOPA, therefore, increases the severity of these symptoms over time until they outweigh any improvement observed from the correction of dopamine deficiency. It is suggested that the damaging side-effects of L-DOPA’s use stem not directly from the drug but from its oxidation products which include dopachrome and other chrome indoles which are hallucinogenic, toxic to neurons and have been seen to hasten death in Parkinsonism patients [Graham 1978, Graham et al. 1978].”

“At least part of the neurological damage seen in Encephalitis lethargica” … “appears to be caused by dopachrome and other chrome indoles, produced by the oxidation of dopamine. The use of L-DOPA in these patients probably accelerates production of such neurotoxins. If this hypothesis is correct, it follows that combining L-DOPA with very high dose antioxidants may permit the beneficial use of this drug”.

… “high doses of natural methyl acceptors, such as thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3) and ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10) should delay disorder progression. This is because they are capable of decreasing the conversion of dopamine to dopachrome and so preventing the toxic impacts of this and other chrome indoles [Hoffer 1998].”

 

References 

Awakenings (1990). Film. Directed by:  Penny Marshall. USA: Columbia Pictures.

Foster HD, Hoffer A (2004)  The two faces of L-DOPA: benefits and adverse side effects in the treatment of Encephalitis lethargica, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Medical Hypotheses 62: 177–181.

Graham DG (1978) Oxidative pathways for catecholamines in the genesis of neuromelanin and cytotoxic quinones. Mol Pharmacol 14 (4): 633–643.

Graham DG, Tiffany SM, Bell WR, Gutknecht WF (1978) Autoxidation versus covalent binding of quinones as the mechanism of toxicity of dopamine, 6-hydroxydopamine, and related compounds towards C1300 neuroblastoma cells in vitro. Mol Pharmocol 14 (4): 644–653.

Hoffer A (1998) Vitamin B-3 Schizophrenia: discovery, recovery, controversy. Quarry Press, Kingston, Ontario.

Katzenschlager R, Lees AJ (2002) Treatment of Parkinson’s disease: levodopa as the first choice. J Neurol 249 (Suppl 2): 19–24.

Liao SL, Raung SL, Chen CJ (2003) Japanese encephalitis virus stimulates superoxide dismutase activity in rat glial cultures. Neurosci Lett 324 (2): 133–136.

Sacks O (1982) Awakenings. Pan Books. London.

Sacks O (1983) The origin of “Awakenings”. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 287 (6409): 1968–1969.

 

An Integrative Approach to ADHD (Lecture)

Professor Sanford Newmark, MD, explores in this lecture (2011) the importance of the Integrative Approach-seeing the child in the context of family, friends, school and community, rather than as a set of symptoms that need to be fixed.

Dr. Newmark is a clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California. He is the head of the Pediatric Integrative Neurodevelopmental Program at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, specializing in the treatment of autism, ADHD and other developmental or chronic childhood conditions.

Topics in this lecture include an overview of the genetic, environmental and neurobiological aspects, non-pharmaceutical therapies including nutrition, food sensitivities, vitamin and mineral supplements, parenting, school, and complementary therapies.

 

Is Your Child’s Brain Starving? (Lecture)

Food, Not Drugs for Life and Learning: 

This is a lecture (2007) on how diet can contribute to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by Dr. Michael R. Lyon, MD. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Food, Nutrition and Health Program. Dr. Lyon is also a member of the Expert Advisory Committee for Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate, as well as Medical and Research Director of the Canadian Centre for Functional Medicine.

Dr. Lyon has designed and conducted numerous clinical trials on natural health products. His extensive clinical research also includes the development of treatment strategies for children with learning and behavioural difficulties, as well as ADHD. Two of Michael R. Lyon’s published works include: Is Your Child’s Brain Starving? Food Not Drugs for Life and Learning and How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine.

Treating Depression: Is there a placebo effect?

A Harvard scientist says the drugs used to treat depression are effective, but for many, it’s the placebo effect that’s making people feel better. 

Do antidepressants work? Since the introduction of Prozac in the 1980s, prescriptions for antidepressants have soared 400 percent, with 17 million Americans currently taking some form of the drug. But how much good is the medication itself doing? “The difference between the effect of a placebo and the effect of an antidepressant is minimal for most people,” says Harvard scientist Irving Kirsch. Will Kirsch’s research, and the work of others, change the USD 11.3 billion antidepressant industry? Lesley Stahl investigates (CBS News, 2012).

 

Diet and Autism

Researcher Karl-Ludvig Reichelt and his colleagues at the National Hospital in Oslo have found that autistics have more peptides, or fragments of proteins in the urine than healthy people. The effect of this peptide accumulation is an opium-like effect in the brain. The autistics function better socially and achieve greater benefit from teaching and other stimulus when they eat a diet with low protein content without gluten and dairy products. The Norwegian nutrition physiologist Dag Viljen Poleszynski is also interviewed in this film. This is a trailer of the film FOOD? (2005).

 

Autistic Child Fully Recovered with Biomedical Treatment

Mrs. Holly Riley is the mother of a fully recovered autistic child. Her son Quinn was diagnosed with Autism around the age of two and yet in a just a few short years, through the use of biomedical treatment and traditional autism therapies, he was able to come out of the Autism fog. Holly discusses also her experiences related to vaccination and autism. (Produced by Larry Cook, 2010-2011).

Dead Wrong: How Psychiatric Drugs Can Kill Your Child

From the makers of the award-winning documentaries Making a Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging and The Marketing of Madness: Are We All Insane? comes a searing new documentary (2010), exposing how devastating—and deadly—psychiatric drugs can be for children and families.

Behind the grim statistics of deaths, suicides, birth defects and serious adverse reactions is the human face of this global drugging epidemic—the personal stories of loss and courage of those who paid the real price.

Psychiatrists claim their drugs are safe for children?

Once you hear what eight brave mothers, their families, health experts, drug counselors and doctors have to say instead, you will come away convinced of one thing… Psychiatrists are DEAD WRONG.