Autism: Can the WHO do something?

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The autism epidemic: what the World Health Organisation could usefully do for developed countries

This post is really a bit of an aside. On an alternative health site I read this piece on autism and the research into its causes. I am no more an expert on autism than on smoking, but find it hard to be persuaded that autism is a genetic disorder.

It is important to point out that there seems to be no consensus about what autism is:
Autism is a complex disability resulting in brain damage, gastrointestinal damage, sleep disorders, food sensitivities, epilepsy, immune dysfunction, self destructive behaviour patterns, repetitive behaviour, communication deficits and unresponsiveness to other people. It was first written about in a case study in 1943 by Dr Leo Kanner, who described 11 children with a condition that had never before been observed.
Autism might be described as a range of problems and indeed autism is also termed 'autism spectrum disorders'. The Gaia health piece points to a recorded incidences of one autism per fifty children and compares it to a 1970 figure of one in 14,875 recorded in Wisconsin in 1970. This is a stupendous rise and it seems feeble to say that it can be accounted for by different or better diagnostic techniques. 

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