Today on the Dr. Oz show, Dr. Mehmet Oz discussed Autism and what causes it. He says that 1 in every 110 children born in the United States will have autism. Boys are more prone to it, at 1 in 70 children.
Dr. Oz says that autism is a neurological disorder that robs a child of an emotional foundation. More and more children are being diagnosed with it each year too. Why is autism on the rise? Mainly because doctors are getting better at diagnosing it, and also because the diagnosis has spread to include children with milder forms of it.
Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation, says that there’s a strong genetic component as to the cause of autism. It’s not 100% of the cause though, so they are researching environmental factors that interact with the genes to trigger the disorder.
Dr. Oz outlined three theories as to the cause of autism. First is vaccines. But that is extremely controversial because the original research by Dr. Andrew Wakefield was proven to be fraudulent. Still, many parent associate the onset of their child’s autism with vaccines, and not just mercury. Aluminum in vaccines should be researched.
Dr. Oz brought on a panel of pediatricians to discuss what causes autism. Most of them said that science shows vaccines are safe, which the audience (of parents with autistic children) seemed to disagree with.
Dr. Oz then had Dr. Bob Sears, author of “The Autism Book,” speak to the subject. Dr. Sears vaccinates children, but on a different schedule. He does the important ones first, spread out farther apart, and saves the lesser important ones until the child is a bit older.
Dr. Ari Brown, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, however voiced concern that delaying vaccinations leaves the youngest, most vulnerable babies at risk. She brought up a measles outbreak that happened due to unvaccinated children, and one of them was Dr. Sears’ patient. Dr. Sears then rebutted by saying that the studies which prove vaccinations are safe are funded by the pharmaceutical companies. He is calling for better studies that parents can trust.
Dr. Oz revealed that he did immunize his children but on a delayed schedule.
Another theory about the cause of autism is environment. Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto from UC Davis talked about a study that showed women who lived within a quarter-mile of a freeway during their pregnancy have about a twice the likelihood of their child having autism. She does not think there’s one cause of autism. She thinks there will eventually be found a number of contributing causes.
The third theory is the age of the parents…not just the mom. Dr. Brown says the study shows that for every 10 years increase in age of the mom, the risk of having an autistic child goes up by 30%. For fathers, for every 10 year increase, the risk goes up over 20%. Alison Singer also say that science indicates an increased risk of autism with fertility treatments. Dr. Oz pinpointed the age of 35 as being the age over which the risk appears to start growing.
Dr. Sears talked about dietary tips. He says he’s seen so many children improve on the gluten-free, casein-free diet.
Alison Singer talked about how early intervention makes a huge difference, so if you see any early warning signs in your child, get him or her screened.
According to Dr. Ari Brown, author of “Toddler 411,” some early signs of autism in children under one year of age are: lack of eye contact, failure to respond to name, constant repetitive behaviors, preference for unusual comfort objects, lack of symbolic play or imitation, no babbling by 12 months, no gesturing by 12 months.
Signs in the second year of life are no words by 16 months, lack of social skills, not following simple commands, not pointing to show you something, not looking when you point at something, not pretending or imitating, seeming disconnected, seeming deaf when not, does not feel pain or is fearless, no interest in toys or doesn’t play with them appropriately, keen interest in inanimate objects.