Autism, I believe does most likely, have numerous causes. Having had very premature twins born at 24-25 weeks, it is widely known that autism and autism spectrum disorders are extremely prevelant in this population. One of my daughters has Aspergers and NLD which are autism spectrum disorders.
One of my most respected preemie advocates, Helen Harrison, has talked about the high incidence of autism among extremely preterm children for years and years. She would talk about this at neonatal conferences, and neonatologists poo pooed her, and were so in denial about there being really anything significant going on with preemies. Afterall, most catch up be age 2! Uh - no.
Prematurity is the number one cause of disability in newborns. Cerebral palsy, mental retardation, seizures, blindness, learning disabilities. . and now autism is an issue. As neonatal continues to push back the envelope on saving smaller and sicker newborns, the disability rate also, is climbing. Autism now is found to affect about 1/4 of those babies born 3 or more months early.
Personally, I think neonatal has gone too far in saving preemies. The outcomes are getting worse, and parents do not have the resources available as these children grow into children, adults. The divorce rate among couples of severely disabled children, I had heard a while ago, is arount 85%. With our current health care climate and cuts to all services serving the disabled, including Medicaid, it is going to become more difficult for families who are deserted after neonatal. We really need to back the wagon up and do some high quality long-term preemie f/u studies similar to the EPICURE study done in Europe. IMO as well as many preemie families left with children who are severely impacted, we are far too aggressive saving tiny preemies in this country.
With that said, I do not think that vaccines should be discounted as a possible cause though either. The article written by Jim Carey about the high incidence of vaccinosis among puppies certainly is intriguing. Dr. Bernadine Healy's support of there being better studies of vaccines including the population of the unvaccinated vs the vaccinated. . .the unvaccinated btw, would probably include just about every chiropractor's child in this country, as the few I know, have not vaccinated their kids. I do not think we can hang our hat on the studies done so far, as I do not particularly trust big pharma, and I think that many of the studies discounting a link could have big pharma connections.