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Autism Rising? Dr. Eric Fombonne Says Yes It Is

Posted Jan 25 2010 5:56am
Despite the recent figures from the CDC revising autism prevalence rates upward from 1 in 150 to 1 in 110 die hard deniers of the existence of an autism epidemic refuse to acknowledge the obvious.  One of the most stubborn deniers is Kev Leitch at LBRB a Neurodiversity driven "autism" blog. 

In a recent lbrb post  denying the reality of the increasing rates of autism disorders Kev clings to the 1994 diagnostic changes and to social and ascertainment factors.  He does so even though Dr. Tom Insel, head of the IACC, has recently stated that studies can only attribute slightly less than 50% of the startling rates of increases to such diagnostic and ascertainment factors. The onus, according to Dr. Insel, is on those who would deny that autism is actually increasing to make their case.

Kev's diagnostic and ascertainment factors accounting for less than 50% of the autism increases what is left? Well Kev drops a few names without much explanation.  One of the names he drops, somewhat curiously is Dr. Eric Fombonne.   What makes Kev's reference to Dr. Fombonne so curious is that the good Doctor has previously indicated that autism actually is rising and quite dramatically.  He did so in the context of "debunking" claims that the mercury based preservative thimerosal used in vaccines (including recently in the H1N1 vaccines) does not cause autism disorders (as reported by Scripp news) :

"One of the main pieces of evidence against the vaccine theory, Minshew said, is that thimerosal has been banned from most childhood vaccines in America since 2001, and yet reported autism rates have continued to increase.Dr. Eric Fombonne, an autism researcher at McGill University in Montreal, has an even more telling example of that. In Quebec, children who got vaccines from 1987 to 1991 had about half as much mercury exposure as those in the United States; from 1992 to 1995, they had the same amount; and from 1996 on they had no exposure at all because mercury preservatives were removed. Yet the autism rates in Quebec increased steadily through that entire period, and actually went up faster after the mercury was eliminated."

I do not know if Dr. Fombonne is correct in stating that mercury was removed from all Quebec vaccines or not.  What is relevant for Kev's argument  who cites Dr. Fombonne as an authority for the view that autism is not really rising is the fact that well ... Dr. Fombonne has argued exactly the opposite in trying to prove that mercury based thimerosal in children's vaccines has been exonerated as a cause of autism disorders.   If the increase in autism diagnoses relied on by Dr. Fombonne in defending thimerosal was not a real increase, if it was due entirely to diagnostic and social factors, then Dr. Fombonne's thimerosal defence would be destroyed.

The factors cited by Kev Leitch and other autism epidemic deniers do not account for more than 50% of the autism epidemic. Name dropping of experts like Dr. Fombonne  does not change that fact. Especially when they themselves have publicly relied on real autism increases in arguing against thimerosal as a factor causing autism disorders.

Autism is rising and it is long past time that we started doing the research to find out why.

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