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3 Reasons Why Autism Diagnosis Rates Are Rising

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Recent research has shown that the prevalence of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorders has been increasing year on year. This increase in autism diagnosis rates is explained by 3 causal factors as is concluded by a number of studies.

As they say, numbers don’t lie, before we take a look at the 3 factors, let’s take a look at the numbers of Autism prevalence over past years. These statistics are from the US and they are provided by the US National Health Statistics Report of 2013. Though covering the US only, the same trend characterises autism trends globally;

1950                       1 in every 25,000 children is diagnosed with autism

1970 to 1980       1 in every 2,500 children is diagnosed with autism

2000                       1 in every 150 children is diagnosed with autism

2004                       1 in every 125 children is diagnosed with autism

2006                       1 in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism

2008                       1 in every 88 children is diagnosed with autism

2013                       1 in every 50 children is diagnosed with autism

The rise in autism diagnosis rates in the last recorded 67 years is quite alarming. Extrapolating future prevalence from these trends show that autism is likely to increase by 5% in 2020. They say an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, in order, to prevent continued autism rates from increasing, let’s take a look at the causal factors and how best we can protect ourselves, our children and generations to come.

1. Environmental and Nutritional factors

Environmental and nutritional factors have been labeled as the chief factors associated with a greater risk for autism. When talking about environmental factors, we are talking about environmental toxins. These may be natural or human-made, and they include lead, mercury, radon, benzene, cadmium and pesticides among others. These dangerous compounds, unfortunately, are ubiquitous in our environment, they are part and parcel of stuff we use every day like detergents, toys, cosmetics, food can liners, plastic bottles and containers, and pesticides. In order, to reduce our exposure to such dangerous compounds, we (learn to educate your children also) have to minimize use of plastic containers especially those with the #3 and #7 on the bottom, desist from warming food in plastic containers using microwave, learn not to use dishwasher and practice doing our dishes manually, reduce our use of canned food and go for BPA free baby bottles and toys.

We also have to start going for organically grown food. One of the chief factors associated with Autism is our uptake of western style genetically modified food. This kind of diet is full of refined foods that are nutrient deficient and contains a lot of colorings, preservatives, and additives.

2. Research

Much of the research conducted so far relating to autism has been targeting remedies for the condition. Though this is not a bad thing, it will be even better if more research primarily targeting clinically tested early detection and diagnosis methods are prioritized. It is important to prioritize early detection as past experiences have shown that there is a high chance of survival and better life if Autism is diagnosed earlier.

3. More Awareness

Another school of thought has come out saying the increase in autism rates does not necessarily mean that the numbers are actually rising but rather more people are aware of the condition thus more people are seeking an early diagnosis. In years gone by, people with autism were institutionalized, others misdiagnosed as mentally retarded or with intellectual disability. Though a conclusion has not yet been reached, it seems that this is true to some extent.

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