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When will Congress finally address the autism epidemic in America?


(NaturalNews) The Autism Action Network has called on its supporters to make autism an issue for the current election cycle, by contacting their members of Congress and asking them to answer the following question: "What have you done since the last election in your capacity as a member of Congress to help find the causes of autism; develop effective prevention and treatment; improve educational outcomes; and improve the lives of people with autism. Please be specific."

On November 8, every single seat in the House of Representatives is up for election, along with 34 Senate seats.

As rates keep rising, where is Washington?

Autism is a neurological disorder characterized by difficulty with social interaction and communication, along with repetitive or restricted behaviors. Although it has historically been considered a primarily genetic condition, evidence continues to emerge linking it to a variety of environmental factors.

One of the strongest lines of evidence for an environmental trigger is the fact that rates of autism keep rising. According to a 2014 study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US autism rates increased by almost 30 percent just between 2008 and 2010, leaping from a rate of one in 88 (among 8-year-olds) to one in 68. Experts mostly agree that the jump is too large to be explained solely by improved screening and diagnosis. And while some of the increase can be explained by people having children later in life, that does not fully explain the dramatic increase, either.

The 2014 study spurred vocal calls for the government to address a condition that is now so prevalent that nearly every elementary school class has at least one autistic student.

"This is a loud message to people in Washington that we need leadership here," said Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks. "A national strategy that addresses all the needs of the autism community across the lifespan is what is needed now more than ever."

Evidence of environmental causes mounts

Recent research has uncovered a number of potential environmental triggers for autism. A 2013 study by researchers from Arizona State University suggested that heavy metal exposure might be one such trigger. The researchers found that autistic children had a significantly higher body burden of heavy metals than non-autistic children. Notably, children with more severe symptoms also had higher heavy metal levels than autistic children with less severe symptoms. In fact, as much as 47 percent of the variation in autism severity could be explained by levels of heavy metals, especially mercury and cadmium.

Another possibility being explored by current research is that disruption to the natural community of microbes living within the human body – the microbiome – might contribute to the neurological changes that produce autism. Studies have confirmed that autistic children have a different microbiome composition than non-autistic children, while microbiome-disrupting procedures including antibiotics and cesarean sections, have also been shown to influence autism risk and symptoms.

Of course, the possibility that has sparked the most controversy is that vaccines might be to blame for some cases of autism. The case for a vaccine injury trigger was strengthened in 2014, when senior CDC scientist William Thompson admitted that he and fellow researchers had manipulated the data from one of their studies to conceal a finding that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to higher autism rates in black boys.

Catherine J Frompovich, author of Vaccination Voodoo, added her voice on Natural Blaze in support of the Autism Action Network call to action, and also suggested a call to presidential candidates asking, "What will you do, if elected into office, to investigate and to stop the fraud and collusion regarding vaccine research, plus the dissemination of fraudulent vaccine science and data by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration?"

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