Increase In Autism Caused by Modern Breeding Habits?

14 Mar

Supposedly, as the parent of a autistic child I should fall to my knees and sob uncontrollably when I consider the ‘personal tradgedy’ of how ‘the disease’ of autism has ‘blighted’ my life. Excuse me if I don’t won’t you? This generation has more than its fair share of ‘pity-poor-me’s’ a lot of whom reside in the parental movement to cure autism. A movement driven by the greed of snake oil salesmen and fed on the ignorance of parents looking for a way out of what society tells them is a terrible plight.

These movements usually centre around what caused their childs autism and how they can fix it. In the eyes of society who tells them autism is ‘an epidemic’ they don’t see their child, they see the difference and they only see it negatively. The two main targets of parental ire these days are vaccines and mercury, mostly linked together.

Time to be honest : I don’t know that vaccines are definitely safe. I do however think that the evidence is conclusive against vaccines causing autism. Of course, these modern day crusaders in the cure camp aren’t interested in evidence. Without vaccines, without Mercury they have no enemy to rail against, no foe to overcome – except their own children of course. Personally I don’t believe that anything other than single vaccines are safe myself. Triple jabs are, in my opinion, too much for some kids. I think the DTP jab may have triggered Megans autism. Note that ‘trigger’ is not the same as ’caused’. We believe Megans potential for autism was always there. I believe the same is true for any autistic child.

And so, it was with interest I read a piece in The Spectator by Rod Liddle that explains his belief that the increase in autism may be a partial result of modern breeding habits. Its a fascinating theory and apparently one which Simon Baron-Cohen is actively pursuing:

I believe that the cause of autism will turn out to be assortative mating of two hyper-systemisers…(strands of research have not yet proved the case of assortative mating theory, but)…they simply point to it being highly likely. I will give up the idea if it is proven wrong …but I won’t give up the idea simply because it will be unpopular to certain groups, such as those who want to believe that the cause of autism is purely environmental.

Basically, Baron-Cohen is saying that people with a propensity for autism are producing autistic children. Sounds obvious but if it turns out to be true then its the death knell for the cure groups and their constant clamouring against environmental agents being the sole cause.

Liddle then goes on to propound his own, admittedly unscientific theory, to account for why the factors Baron-Cohen is investigating may lead directly to the so called autism ‘epidemic’.

If we are marrying and having our children later, and men are much, much more likely to be working alongside women, because of a greater degree of equality within the job market and a decline of those jobs traditionally associated with women, is it not possible that these days our partners would tend to be drawn from the sphere of work rather than, as before, in a rather more random fashion from within our home communities? In other words, are we not more likely to be marrying partners who, through their choice of field of work, are similar to us? And if that is the case, might this rather crude definition of assortative mating be contributing to the rise in cases of children with one or another autism spectrum disorder?

I don’t know but its an intriguing idea. It would certainly have some darkly comic value for the cure camp to learn once and for all that its their genetic inheritance coupled with their mating habits that have ’caused’ the ‘epidemic’ that they so regularly beat their breasts about.

31 Responses to “Increase In Autism Caused by Modern Breeding Habits?”

  1. Jason Stirk March 16, 2005 at 07:16 #

    I remember reading an article several (maybe 5?) years ago about how Silicon Valey had one of the highest rates of autistic children in the world, and how this was causing pressures on the education system of the area.

    The article went on to say that researchers had suggested that this may have been due to many of the people employed in the very technical and research orientated fields having, for want of better terminology, a semi-autistic nature. Their theory was that because there were so many of these semi-autistic people in close proximity, the probability of them having children were higher than in other areas or in the past.

    Unfortunately I can’t remember where I came across this article, but it was interesting none-the-less.

    Disclaimer: I know nothing about autism, whether it is indeed environmental, genetic, or whatever.

  2. Kev March 16, 2005 at 10:30 #

    You’re right Jason. I think its that report that first triggered Professor Baron-Cohen’s interest in the matter.

    Its certainly true that a lot of autistics, particularly Aspies (those who are diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome) are very well suited to the sort of jobs that working in Scilicon Valley would require – high intelligence, extreme concentration, excellent memory etc.

  3. Nicola March 16, 2005 at 22:26 #

    Hello Kev

    Been following Megan’s progress with interest. Love to you all and the bump.

    I digress, I too have read the article and I am astounded. I would not be at all surprised to find out that the mating process had something to do with it all……….. Considering my son’s parents, we have the (I was going to say neurotic mother) mother who wonders whether she too has ASD traits (definitely thinks she does!!) and the scientific and mathematical father (who loves order, dislikes change and socialising unless it is on his terms) BUT we are both passive persons who adore each other and can see us being together forever. ASD people are very loyal……….

    I WOULD NOT be surprised to hear that there is something in this!

  4. Kev March 17, 2005 at 08:07 #

    Hi Nicola :o) good to hear from you again.

    I haven’t had opportunity to read any of Baron-Cohen’s research yet but I have to say it sounds pretty persuasive to me too.

  5. Helen March 18, 2005 at 00:12 #

    This is kind of the genetics equation again. I am becoming a firm believer in that being the main cause.

    Yes some people will have a genetic predisposition to cause autism, but unless they come into contact with an environmental trigger then they will not develop an ASD. And the severity of the reaction to the trigger or the amounts exposed could determine the severity. It is also the reason I am NOT going to have the MMR ever again. I do not want to risk it being my trigger and making me lose everything I have gained in the last 8 years.

    The curebies are starting to be annoying as are the likening to cancer and being a hidden epedemic. STOP IT

  6. Mike March 18, 2005 at 15:07 #

    I think you people are mad. I have five boys. The two oldest are austic and the three others are not. The two oldest had all their immunizations and the others have not. I work in a coffee plant and my wife does not work at all. All my boys have had their hair sampled and the two oldest have very high amounts of mercury and the others do not. So it must be my genetic inheritance and mating habits that caused this? Wow! Do you have any other great information for me. Maybe by me picking my nose when I was a child is what caused my Gout? What do you think? I HAVE ALL MY KIDS TEST RESULTS FOR THEIR BLOOD URIN STOOL AND HAIR! ANYONE WANT TO SEE THEM. IS THIS CALLED EVIDENCE?

  7. Kev March 18, 2005 at 16:10 #

    First Mike, please answer respectfully without the unecessary caps please. If you want to have a debate about this thats fine but do it politely please.

    Secondly, what you seem to have is evidence that your kids have mercury poisining. Where is the evidence that mercury poisining is the sole cause of autism?

  8. Ettina March 18, 2005 at 20:51 #

    Coincidences exist. Autism is common, and a certain group of kids with mercury poisening would be autistic as well, assuming no connection between the two. To prove a connection, you must prove that kids with mercury poisening are more likely to be autistic. A sample of two is not enough. A sample of 100 or more is. And they have to be randomly selected. If you choose the staunch chelation supporter’s kids that would not be representative of all autistics. And as for immunisations, in Denmark they removed the triple jab and the rate of autism in Denmark is still slowly increasing at the same rate as everywhere else. Now, I can’t remember what, if anything, they replaced it with, and the argument could be made that whatever the replacement(if any) is also causes autism, but that’s unlikely. And there have been countless studies showing no connection between MMR and autism. Just do a search on PubMed for autism. Also, there is considerably more evidence to support a genetic link for autism than a link between nose-picking and gout. Your mocking exaggeration is innacurate.

  9. Mike March 18, 2005 at 22:54 #

    Let me explain. My mating habits did nothing to do with my boy’s autisum. What caused this is the mercury that they have been given through their immunisations. My three youngest boys did not have their immunisations and they do not have autisum. This is what I think is true. No one can change my mind. This is why.

    My oldest son, Michael age 9, is taking DMSA now. Before he started this treatment he beat his head on anything and everything. I had no glass windows in my house or sheetrock on my walls due to this. My son would seldom sleep more than a couple of hours a day. He could not dress or feed himself. He made almost no eye contact and showed very little emotion. This has all changed. He does not beat his head at all. He smiles and hugs me all the time. He dresses and feeds himself. He is starting to talk. He sleeps all night. This is all within the last four months. 9 years of no hope. 9 years of sadness. All changed. As a matter of fact he is standing next to me saying “hat” right now. He wants his hat. Writing this is bringing tears to my eyes. This treatment is a God send. I could care less what any of you think. This DMSA has changed all of our lives. I see my child as a wonderful person that would not have the chance to have a life filled with love if it was not for this snake oil. Thank God for this wonderful snake oil!

  10. Helen March 18, 2005 at 23:20 #

    Mercury has been linked to Autism in the USA.

    BUT now investigations need to be carried out into why some children come into such high quantities of Mercury and develop autism and YET some children in the same area do not. This could be where the modern breeding habits come in.

    Also there are some people – like myself, – who believe that the equation

    What you are like = genetics AND environmental triggers

    is what is happening. Think of it this way ONE change in a persons DNA could be enough to cause Autism. Breeding introduces genetic mutations. Environmental things such as mercury could do quite some damage, as a toxin!

    And be careful what you say. I took offence at your comment Mike, not only because I am Autistic, BUT because I am a biologist as well. I know things about how environmental conditions and genetics combine to give certain effects!

  11. Mike March 18, 2005 at 23:55 #

    What one? Why should I be careful?

  12. Kev March 19, 2005 at 07:31 #

    I also find it offensive to see autistics portrayed as you portray them:

    I see my child as a wonderful person that would not have the chance to have a life filled with love if it was not for this snake oil.

    I see my child as a wonderful person and guess what – she’ autistic! I don’t have to change a single thing about her to see her as wonderful. I think its sad that you only think your kids are wonderful after you believe you’ve ‘cured’ them. Why were they less deserving of your praise before? Do you see all autistics as less than us?

    Be that as it may. You published a very emotive post Mike but none of it realy answered any questions.

    Where is the evidence that your kids autism is cured? As opposed to their apparent mercury poisoning? Where is the evidence that autism does not have a genetic component? What do you say to the parents whose kids have never had immunisations or come into any contact with dangerous Mercury? Where is the evidence that Mercury is the sole cause of autism?

    What you’re perpetuating is a strawman arguement – you claim Mercury is the cause of autism with no proof, you then claim that because you have had some sucess clearing up any apparent mercury poisoning you have therefore ‘cured’ autism. Which you haven’t, there’s no logical path between the two points.

  13. Mike March 19, 2005 at 14:42 #

    Were you reading my post? I never claimed to have done anything other than improve the life Michael and the rest of my family. I am responding to the remark of this being snake oil. Do you remember that? I have not cured anything. I know that. My son will always be autistic. But I also know he will never beat his head on the wall until blood flows. I know he now shows emotion. What is love if you cannot understand or return it? I love my son now as much as I have ever. My love for him is endless. I am not looking to cure him. I am looking to improve his life and chances to find love with another and have a family. That to me is the only reason we are here. What is life without family and love? Before this treatment Michael had no chance at a normal life. You are claiming I see all autistics the way I see my son. Stop putting words in my mouth. You don’t know my son nor have you seen him in action. I know my son is not ‘cured’ and I thought he was wonderful from the moment he was born to today and that will never change. You read a couple of posts and judge me? You know me? You are a joke! I am autistic! And by the way I could care less what you find offensive.

  14. Noetic March 19, 2005 at 17:13 #

    “You know me? You are a joke! I am autistic! And by the way I could care less what you find offensive.” [Mike]

    I would be interested to hear whether or not you too have mercury poisoning and/or you had the MMR jab as a baby/toddler, if you believe that is what is entirely to blame for autism, yet are autistic yourself.

  15. Mike March 19, 2005 at 18:14 #

    I had countless shots while on active duty Army. About a year after these did it start to notice my change. Thoughout the years in the Army then in the National Guard I recieved more shots up to last year when I was activated for Operation Iraqi freedom. My sons doctor here explained everything that for years I thought was me just changing because of my age or something. I will begin my sons treatment later this year. I cannot afford more that one of us on it at the same time. My second son is next and then I will have my turn. I will let you know how it turns out for all of us. But right now I can tell you the differance it made with Michael is wonderful and I hope it has the same impact on my second son Brian. I work around my problem and my friends and family understand. But people who don’t know me wonder why I do some of the things I do. I hope it has some impact on my life as well.

  16. Kev March 19, 2005 at 18:16 #

    So in one post you say:

    My mating habits did nothing to do with my boy’s autisum. What caused this is the mercury that they have been given through their immunisations

    and in another you say:

    Were you reading my post? I never claimed to have done anything other than improve the life Michael and the rest of my family

    The two statements are incompatible. You can’t claim in one post that Mercury is solely responsible for your kids autism (I note you’ve gone down to referring to just one of your kids in the meantime) and then deny that claim in a subsequent one.

    Your original post lacked the subtelty to see that no where in my blog post did I say or even suggest that the mating habits theory was anything other than a theory. You made the immediate assumption that I was touting it as an alternative theory, no-one else did. By comparison you claim that there is a sole cause of your kids autism – Mercury. I’m saying you’re wrong. I’m saying your kids autism is because they’re autistic. Mercury is a comorbid associate that may or may not play a part. You’ve yet to demonstrate anything other than a tendency to shout and stamp your feet that what I claim is untrue.

    I am not looking to cure him

    I’m very glad to hear it and apologise if I misunderstood your previous remarks on this subject.

    You are claiming I see all autistics the way I see my son. Stop putting words in my mouth. You don’t know my son nor have you seen him in action. I know my son is not ‘cured’ and I thought he was wonderful from the moment he was born to today and that will never change. You read a couple of posts and judge me?

    I ‘judge’ you by solely by what you wrote. Maybe you need to put more effort into what you write. They’re your words after all.

    You are a joke! I am autistic! And by the way I could care less what you find offensive.

    I’m not sure why you feel the fact that you’re autistic is in any way relevant to the discussion at hand. By the way I don’t respond particularly well to personal insults. If you make another one I’ll report you to your ISP and ban your IP from here. This is my blog and it will operate politely as will people who comment on it. Well done on being the first person I’ve ever had to say that to. Quite an achievment.

  17. Noetic March 19, 2005 at 18:30 #

    “I had countless shots while on active duty Army. About a year after these did it start to notice my change.” [Mike]

    I could well imagine that whatever you got given in those shots could have had an effect on your sperm and thus possibly influenced your children that way. I am not sure what you mean by your change – do you mean you “caught autism”, too? If you do, I would recommend reading up on what autism is before fabricating any further theories on its causes…

  18. lydia April 6, 2005 at 20:16 #

    Hi everyone,
    Having just read the bit about the article on the high percentage of ASD in Silicon Valley, if anyone is interested the article is available on “Look Smart’s Find Articles”:http://www.findarticles.com . Just put Autism into the search facility. It’s quite an interesting read………
    Keep up the great work with the web site, I’m encouraged to know that other people aren’t buying the ‘Autism needs to be cured’ culture that currently seems to be flavour of the month…….

  19. Michelle April 7, 2005 at 19:04 #

    Hi All,
    I just by chance ran into this website when I was researching the possible causes and possible cures of autism. My 6 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with high functioning autism of which we pretty much already knew would be the case. I know that there is a lot of controversy over mercury being the cause of autism. Let me share my experience with you. I too believe that mercury is the ultimate cause of autism in most children. My daughter was receiving her immunizations on a regular basis as prescribed by her doctor. She was developing normal at all stages up to about the age of two when she received the immunization that would change her life and her abilities. The immunization that she received caused her to be extremly ill within just six hours of having the shot. Not a normal low grade fever and fussyness. But a very high fever, and vomiting that lasted for several days. Her pediatrician (who is also a neonatologist) believes that the immunization shot was the cause and therefore is to be blamed for my daughter becoming autistic.
    I am for cures of autism. What is so wrong with finding a cure if it leads to a happier and more successful life for my daughter? Families that have autistic children love their children enough to have the desire to find a cure. I don’t desire a cure for my daughter to fix something that went terribly wrong because I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of who she is or how she acts. I love her with every ounce of my being and likewise my entire family and church family feel the same. But if God chooses to give scientists the cure for any disease whether it be autism, cancer or whatever the case may be, than we should be grateful for the knowledge of cures. I personally don’t see anything wrong with a cure or medication that can improve ones life. Lets stop arguing over who is right and who is wrong in this dicussion and respect each others opinions. I think if one desires an attempt at a cure we should be respectful and not try to impose our views and opinions on why we think it’s wrong. Autistic or not. Good luck to all for the future.

  20. Kev April 7, 2005 at 21:07 #

    Her pediatrician (who is also a neonatologist) believes that the immunization shot was the cause and therefore is to be blamed for my daughter becoming autistic.

    I’m afraid all the evidence is firmly against him. You don’t say what vaccination was being given to your daughter but I’m guessing DTP or MMR? My daughter had a DTP shot and had a very similar reaction to your daughter. Does that mean it ’caused’ her autism? No. The most likely explanation and the one with teh most medical evidence to support it is that your daughter always had the potential for autism and that the immunisation may have triggered it. Autism has been around since long before we started using Mercury in vaccinations – indeed, its been around since before there were vaccinations!

    I am for cures of autism. What is so wrong with finding a cure if it leads to a happier and more successful life for my daughter?

    Why do you find it difficult to believe that autistic people can be happy and successful? My daughter’s a very happy little girl. Success means little to me in the terms I suspect you’d define it. Success to me would be a daughter aware of who she is and who had the confidence to be who she is and live her life as the person she is.

    Families that have autistic children love their children enough to have the desire to find a cure.

    Whereas those of us who don’t don’t care about our kids? I love my kids too. I love mine enough to realise that the choice, if it existed, would be hers and hers alone.

    I don�t desire a cure for my daughter to fix something that went terribly wrong because I�m not embarrassed or ashamed of who she is or how she acts.

    Then why exactly do you want a cure? Who is this cure to benefit exactly? Why not accept her for who she is, love her for who she is and appreciate her uniqueness?

    I think if one desires an attempt at a cure we should be respectful and not try to impose our views and opinions on why we think it�s wrong. Autistic or not.

    The irony being that if you ‘cured’ your daughter you _would be_ imposing your views on someone – her. Your daughter isn’t ill. She’s different. In times long past in both your country and mine, black people were once victims of others imposing their will on others, merely because they were different. Who are you Michelle, to make such a momentous and life altering decision on behalf of your daughter? Why do you assume she wants to be someone else? If you cured an autisitic person you would remove that very thing that makes that person what he/she is.

    What I want is a society that stops defining people in terms of their disability. Where my daughter recieves help where she needs it but isn’t treated as some kind of a leper and likened to a ‘disease’ or part of ‘an epidemic’. Where she can live safe in the knowledge that no-one will try and destroy the very centre of who she is and that she can be respected as an autistic, as being different but like all of us, unique.

    Michelle “Have a read of some of the library items on autistics.org”:http://www.autistics.org/library/ they’re written by autistics of varying ability – some like yours and my daughter were told they were low functioning and given no hope when they were children. To see them so eloquent, so confident and so determined gives me nothing but hope for Megan. I hope you can sense some of that possibility for your own daughter.

  21. Andrew April 7, 2005 at 23:17 #

    A couple of weeks ago my daughter’s speech therapist came through with “I think your daughter is autistic” rather than the more subtle “she’s displaying some tendencies often seen in autistic children” of a few months ago. Denial phase over, after a lot of reading next reactinon was to “blame” (wrong word) myself.

    It’s obvious to me that genetics plays some factor in autism. To deny this is to deny that some of the unique attributes of your special child have come from the unique aspects of you (and/or your partner) – might as well claim “she’s not my daughter”.

    Thankyou so much for this website. As a professional scientist it is so good to read a personal perspective that isn’t blaming science for everything and thanking God for everything else.

  22. Kev April 8, 2005 at 07:00 #

    @Andrew: I think we all (parents) go through that denial phase. Its hard not to as we’ve become pretty much accustomed to thinking of autism in such a negative way thanks to over-emotive language use like ‘epidemic’ and ‘tradgedy’ and ‘locked away’.

    The thing that first opened my eyes to my daughter as an autistic was the piece called ‘Don’t Mourn For Us’ by Jim Sinclair which you’ll find from the link in my answer to Michelle above you. It wasn’t an easy thing to read at first but the sheer common sense of the article finally got through.

    Really gladdens my heart to hear another Dad accepting their kids for who they really are. Oh, and ‘hi’ Lydia – I can’t find the article you mention. Do you have a direct link to it?

  23. Happy Girl April 15, 2005 at 13:25 #

    Wow, a very heated debate indeed!

    Well I’m convinced that Autism is a predispotion (genetics) with an environmental trigger (milk-in our case).

    Our first child (NT) had DVD (Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia) and did not speak a word until he had speech therapy (10 weeks only) and has never looked back. He was breast fed for 12 months.

    Our second child (Autistic) was only breast fed for 1 month then bottle fed on formula until 13 months. Within one week of full cows milk, displayed full autistic traits and behaviours.

    He is now 6 and at special school fulltime following 2 years of early intervention therapy and speech therapy.

    With age and no more everyday cows milk, his behaviours (bad) have diminished incredibly. He is and always will be autistic and we have been drinking A2 milk for 15 months now and it does not present any of the behaviours attributed to everyday cows milk.

    I don’t believe autism needs to be cured because I love the autistic person, but I do believe that the extreme behaviours need to be controlled through any therapy that will work for each individual.

    I want the world to love, live with and accept autism totally!

  24. Happy Girl April 15, 2005 at 15:22 #

    Hi Kev

    I have just read through most of your site and have to say I am very impressed. Unfortunately I have found the US sites all a bit over-marketed/hyped/bullshit basically.

    I’m from Australia where we are very accepting of our kids and aren’t on that “cure” curve like the US.

    I only know of a handful of people that have resorted to meds for thier kids and all of us use behavioural therapies available to us.

    In Australia, Autism is becoming extremely prevalent with the Association actually stating that 1:100 Australians are affected by Autism.

    I must say, I do admire your orthodox English! As we convicts tend to slang a bit and the old Oxford dictionary tends to collect a fair whack of dust!

    Keep up the good work, talk again soon.

    Happy Girl

  25. Kev April 16, 2005 at 18:19 #

    Hi Happy Girl :o)

    The ‘cure’ thing does seem to be a primarily North American thing – Canadians are big on it too – its a curious aspect of it that hadn’t occured to me before now. Some investigation into that might be in order I think.

    I must say, I do admire your orthodox English!

    Don’t be fooled ;o) if we ever go to the pub together you’d be appalled at my non-orthodox English!

  26. Happy Girl April 25, 2005 at 14:26 #

    Hi Kev and all again

    Just thought you might like to get some insight into Autism in Australia. The link will take you to an extremely everyday insight into the lives of parents accross Australia who talk as friends all day and night long about our struggles and share much international info as we get our hands on! It’s an extremely friendly, welcoming and in-your-face view of our everyday lives! Please join in!!!! We also have Jim, who is the most fantastic Autistic in our lives who has just retired from a career of working with his ilk for decades whom has enlightened us so much with his personal knowledge and guidence.

    Come and check us out and have many a chat.

    http://www.members.boardhost.com/AutismAustralia?

    Happy Girl

    P.S. I hope my link works!!!

  27. Kev April 25, 2005 at 15:34 #

    Would that be Jim Sinclair HG? If so, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of having recieved some very good advice from him re: Megan my daughter.

    I’ll gladly stop by. I actually saw the link before in my referrer logs and made a mental note to visit – which I promptly forgot!

    re: links etc. When posting a comment, you should see a link saying ‘textile avilable’. Click that and it’ll show you a range of markup you can use in comments – including links :o)

  28. Andrew April 29, 2005 at 04:08 #

    Here’s a Silicon Valley autism article. It presents a variety of views so some things in it will irritate, others will make you think.

  29. Aasa May 29, 2005 at 22:14 #

    This is in response to Ettina’s posting 2 months, 1 week ago. Some of the material posted there is incorrect. The Danish still use the MMR vaccine. It was thimerosal they removed from childhood vaccines in 1992. Even at that rate, the amount of thimerosal contained in Danish childhood vaccines was considerably less than what is contained in American childhood vaccines. More info about this can be found in F.E. Yazbak’s study at this URL: http://www.jpands.org/vol9no3/goldman.pdf .
    Aasa

  30. aabSoY3QiM February 2, 2006 at 06:25 #

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  31. Kev February 2, 2006 at 08:58 #

    Weirdest_spam_ever

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