U.S. autism estimates climb to 1 in 50 school-age children: 72% increase since 2007

Thu, 21 Mar 2013 00:05 GMT

Reuters

* Boys four times more likely than girls to have diagnosis

* Milder cases made up much of the increase  (Adds CDC and expert interview, byline, background)

By Julie Steenhuysen

March 20 (Reuters) – As many as one in 50 U.S. school age children have a diagnosis of autism, up 72 percent since 2007, but much of the increase involves milder cases, suggesting the rise is linked to better recognition of autism symptoms and not more cases, government researchers said on Wednesday.

Overall, the telephone survey of more than 100,000 parents found about 2 percent of children ages 6 to 17 have autism, up from 1.16 percent in 2007, the last time the study was conducted.

“That translates to 1 million school age children ages 6 to 17 who were reported by their parents to have autism spectrum disorder,” said Stephen Blumberg, a senior scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics, a part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who led the study.

As with prior estimates, boys were much more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls, with 1 in 31 school-age boys, or 3.2 percent, having an autism diagnosis, compared with 1 in 143, or 0.7 percent of girls, having a diagnosis.

“Boys were more than 4 times as likely as girls to have autism spectrum disorder,” Blumberg said.

He said the increase among boys accounted for nearly all of the overall increase in autism diagnoses.

DIFFERENT METHODOLOGY

The new findings differ sharply from autism data released just a year ago by the CDC, which said 1 in 88 children in the United States had autism, a spectrum of disabilities that can range from highly functioning individuals to those with severe speech and intellectual disabilities.

In general, individuals with autism struggle with difficulties in communication, behavior and social interaction.

In the current study, the researchers surveyed parents of children age 6 to 17 as part of the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health or NSCH. They compared their findings to the same study done in 2007, which found 1 in 86 children had an autism diagnosis.

The estimate from last year involved a review of medical and educational records of 8 year olds in 14 sites around the country. Data in the records were last collected in 2008, so the finding of 1 in 88 is not far off from the 1 in 86 figure in 2007, the starting point of the current study.

Blumberg said much of the increase in the estimates from the current parent survey was the result of diagnoses of children with previously unrecognized autism.

Increased awareness of autism differences in children and better detection of autism symptoms by doctors, especially in children with milder cases, likely accounts for the increased diagnoses.

“We think the improved recognition is really a recognition of autism spectrum disorders in children with previously unrecognized autism as opposed to new cases,” Blumberg said

Symptoms of autism can be seen in children as young as 18 months of age, and doctors are urged to conduct a screening for developmental delays on all children by age 2. But doctors often fail to detect mild cases of autism until children enter school, when parents become aware of their child’s troubles making friends and teachers notice differences in the child’s ability to interact socially, the team said.

“This is not saying anything about an increased risk for autism but rather that the NSCH is capturing more of the cases that had been missed previously,” said Michael Rosanoff of the advocacy group Autism Speaks.

For families, the findings mean detection of autism, particularly milder forms, is improving but could still happen earlier.

“Even mildly affected children who are in general education settings can struggle without and benefit from appropriate autism spectrum disorder services,” he said in an e-mail.

While scientists believe genetics account for 80 to 90 percent of the risk for developing autism, a growing number of studies are beginning to suggest that a father’s age at the time of conception may play a role by increasing risks for genetic mistakes in the sperm that could be passed along to offspring.

And new research by a British team found that older fathers are more likely to have grandchildren with autism, suggesting that risk factors for autism may build up over generations.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Cynthia Osterman)

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/us-autism-estimates-climb-to-1-in-50-school-age-children/

 

American birth rate drops to lowest point ever… and 40 per cent of newborns are to unwed mothers

  • Per cent of  babies born to unmarried women was highest among teens
  • There were  3,953,593 births in the U.S. in 2011, one per cent less than 2010
  • More older  women having newborns as women delay families

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:15:03 EST, 2  November 2012| UPDATED:15:03 EST, 2 November 2012

 

The birth rate in the United States dropped  to an all-time low in 2011 with one percent fewer births than in the year  before, according to a report released this month by the Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention.

And of all the babies born last year, more  than 40 per cent were born to unmarried women.

The per cent of babies born to unmarried  women was highest among teens but the per cent delivered by unmarried women of  older ages increased from 2010 to 2011.

Dropped: The U.S. birth rate dropped one per cent from 2010 to 2011, the lowest ever recorded 

Dropped: The U.S. birth rate dropped one per cent from  2010 to 2011, the lowest ever recorded

Findings are based on approximately 100 per  cent of registered vital records occurring in calendar year 2011, which were  received and processed by the National Center for Health Statistics, the report  said.

The 2011 preliminary number of U.S. births  was 3,953,593 – one per cent less than 2010.

Rates varied depending on the woman’s  background.

There was a steep drop in births for women  15-19 years old where the rate declined from 34. 2 per cent to 31.3 per cent,  while in 20 to 24 year  old the decline was from 90.0 to 85.3 per  cent.

Where's daddy: Single mothers gave birth to more than 40 per cent of newborns last year 

Where’s daddy: Single mothers gave birth to more than 40  per cent of newborns last year

Older groups held steady with only a small  decline from 108.3 to 107.2 per cent for ages 25 to 29 and a steady 96.5 per  cent from year to year for those age 30-34.

Researcher said the data shows women are  choosing to have family later in life, and rates among older women actually  increased.

Births declined fro most race and Hispanic  origin groups and the birth rate declined for Hispanic, non-Hispanic, black and  American Indian and Alaskan native women.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227070/American-birth-rate-drops-lowest-point-history.html#ixzz2B8c3Pwpf Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Recession pushes US birth rates to an all-time low

 

It’s looking like a bad time to invest in the diaper industry. Birth rates in the US reached an all-time low in 2011.

US fertility has been declining steadily since 2008, according to a report published last week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s  National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The report was compiled from birth certificates registered across the US.

In 2008, the average number of children per woman was 2.1, roughly the figure needed to replace each parent and keep the population stable. In 2011, this figure dropped to 1.9.

“It’s not necessarily worrisome,” says Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, DC. “But if we were to see a sustained drop over five to 10 years, that may be a concern.”

The falling fertility rate is tightly tied to the economic downturn during the past four years, Mather says. Couples are putting off having children, and women’s salaries have become more important to household income, he says.

Rebound effect?

If the economy bounced back, birth rates would probably increase, says Mather. But it is not clear whether that would be the case for long. It might be counterbalanced by the long-term increase in the number of women entering college and the workforce who are subsequently delaying having children or having fewer of them.

The report found that the number of women giving birth in their 30s increased by 3 per cent in 2011 compared with 2010. Women in their 40s also had more children than in 2010. “If you’re younger and the economy isn’t good, you have the option to delay having a child,” says Brady Hamilton, a co-author of the report, based at the NCHS headquarters in Hyattsville, Maryland. “For older women, that’s not a viable option.”

The US fertility rate is still far higher than those of most European countries: Germany, for instance, averages 1.36 children per woman. And the welfare problems caused by having an ageing population aren’t yet as urgent as they are in Japan, say, where nearly a quarter of the population is older than 65, Mather says

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22351-recession-pushes-us-birth-rates-to-an-alltime-low.html

 

 

Suicide, Not Car Crashes, #1 Cause of Injury Death

By
WebMD Health News

Sept. 20, 2012 — Suicide has overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S.

While public health efforts have curbed the number of car fatalities by 25% over the last decade, a new study shows suicide deaths rose by 15% during the same period.

In addition, deaths from unintentional poisoning and falls have also increased dramatically in recent years.

Researchers found deaths caused by accidental poisoning and falls increased by 128% and 71%, respectively.

“Comprehensive and sustained traffic safety measures have apparently substantially diminished the motor vehicle traffic mortality rate, and similar attention and resources are needed to reduce the burden of other injury,” researcher Ian Rockett, PhD, MPH of West Virginia University and colleagues write in the American Journal of Public Health.

Causes of Death Evolving

In the study, researchers looked at cause of death data from the National Center for Health Statistics from 2000 to 2009.

“Contrasting with disease mortality, the injury mortality rate trended upward during most of that decade,” write the researchers.

The top five leading causes of injury-related deaths were:

  1. Suicide
  2. Motor vehicle crashes
  3. Poisoning
  4. Falls
  5. Homicide

Researchers say the findings demonstrate that suicide is now a global public health issue.

“Our finding that suicide now accounts for more deaths than do traffic crashes echoes similar findings for the European Union, Canada, and China,” they write.

Researchers say deaths from unintentional poisoning rose, in part, because of a sharp rise in prescription drug overdoses.

For example, drug overdoses accounted for 75% of unintentional poisoning deaths in 2008, with prescription drugs accounting for 74% of those overdoses.

The study also showed that women had a lower injury-related death rate than men. Blacks and Hispanics had a lower rate of car fatalities and suicides, and a higher rate of homicides than whites.

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20120920/suicide-top-cause-of-injury-death

Stomach bug appears to protect kids from asthma, says NYU study: H. pylori may strengthen the immune system

Contact: Lorinda Klein
Lorindaann.Klein@nyumc.org
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine

H. pylori may strengthen the immune system

NEW YORK, July 15, 2008 – A long-time microbial inhabitant of the human stomach may protect children from developing asthma, according to a new study among more than 7,000 subjects led by NYU Langone Medical Center researchers. Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that has co-existed with humans for at least 50,000 years, may lead to peptic ulcers and stomach cancer. Yet, kids between the ages of 3 and 13 are nearly 59 percent less likely to have asthma if they carry the bug, the researchers report. The study appears in the July 15, 2008, online issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“Our findings suggest that absence of H. pylori may be one explanation for the increased risk of childhood asthma,” says Yu Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at New York University School of Medicine and a co-author of the study. “Among teens and children ages 3 to 19 years, carriers of H. pylori were 25 percent less likely to have asthma.”

The impact was even more potent among children ages 3 to 13: they were 59 percent less likely to have asthma if they carried the bacterium, the researchers report. H. pylori carriers in teens and children were also 40 percent less likely to have hay fever and associated allergies such as eczema or rash.

These results, which follow on from similar findings in adults published by the same authors last year, are based on an analysis of data gathered from 7,412 participants in the fourth National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES IV) conducted from 1999 to 2000 by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Dr. Chen collaborated on the survey with Martin J. Blaser, M.D., the Frederick H. King Professor of Internal Medicine, chair of the department of medicine, and professor of microbiology at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Blaser has studied H. pylori for more than two decades.

Asthma has been rising steadily for the past half-century. Meanwhile H. pylori, once nearly universal in humans, has been slowly disappearing from developed countries over the past century due to increased antibiotic use, which kills off the bacteria, and cleaner water and homes, explains Dr. Blaser. Data from NHANES IV showed that only 5.4 percent of children born in the 1990s were positive for H. pylori, and that 11.3 percent of the participants under 10 had received an antibiotic in the month prior to the survey.

The rise in asthma over the past decades, Dr. Blaser says, could stem from the fact that a stomach harboring H. pylori has a different immunological status from one lacking the bug. When H. pylori is present, the stomach is lined with immune cells called regulatory T cells that control the body’s response to invaders. Without these cells, a child can be more sensitive to allergens.

“Our hypothesis is that if you have Helicobacter you have a greater population of regulatory T-cells that are setting a higher threshold for sensitization,” Dr. Blaser explains. “For example, if a child doesn’t have Helicobacter and has contact with two or three cockroaches, he may get sensitized to them. But if Helicobacter is directing the immune response, then even if a child comes into contact with many cockroaches he may not get sensitized because his immune system is more tolerant.”

In other words, the presence of the bacteria in the stomach may influence how a child’s immune system develops: if a child does not encounter Helicobacter early on, the immune system may not learn how to regulate a response to allergens. Therefore, the child may be more likely to mount the kinds of inflammatory responses that trigger asthma.

“There’s a growing body of data that says that early life use of antibiotics increases risk of asthma, and parents and doctors are using antibiotics like water,” Dr. Blaser says. “The reality is that Helicobacter is disappearing extremely rapidly. In the NHANES IV study, less than six percent of U.S. children had Helicobacter, and probably two generations ago it was 70 percent. So, this is a huge change in human micro-ecology. The disappearance of an organism that’s been in the stomach forever and is dominant is likely to have consequences. The consequences may be both good—less likelihood of gastric cancer and ulcers later in life—and bad: more asthma early in life.”

Study: Media perpetuates unsubstantiated chemical imbalance ( Serotonin ) theory of depression

Contact: Jeffrey Lacasse jeffreylacasse@mac.com 850-294-0875 Florida State University

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The theory that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance is often presented in the media as fact even though there is little scientific evidence to support it, according to a new study co-authored by a Florida State University visiting lecturer.

Jeffrey Lacasse, an FSU doctoral candidate and visiting lecturer in the College of Social Work, and Jonathan Leo, a neuroanatomy professor at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, found that reporters who included statements in news articles about depression being caused by a chemical imbalance, or a lack of serotonin in the brain, were unable to provide scientific evidence to support those statements.

Lacasse and Leo spent about a year in late 2006 and 2007 monitoring the daily news for articles that included statements about chemical imbalances and contacting the authors to request evidence that supported their statements. Several reporters, psychiatrists and a drug company responded to the researchers’ requests, but Lacasse and Leo said they did not provide documentation that supported the chemical imbalance theory. Their findings were published in the journal Society.

“The media’s presentation of the theory as fact is troublesome because it misrepresents the current status of the theory,” Lacasse said. “For instance, there are few scientists who will rise to its defense, and some prominent psychiatrists publicly acknowledge that the serotonin hypothesis is more metaphor than fact. As the current study documents, when asked for evidence, reporters were unable to cite peer-reviewed primary articles in support of the theory.”

Moreover, the researchers said, several of the responses received from reporters seem to suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of the theory’s scientific status. The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” which almost all psychiatrists use to diagnose and treat their patients, clearly states that the cause of depression and anxiety is unknown, according to Lacasse and Leo.

The Society article builds on the pair’s 2005 study, which focused on pharmaceutical advertisements that claim depression is caused by an imbalance of serotonin — an imbalance the drug companies say can be corrected by a class of antidepressants called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

”The chemical imbalance theory, which was formulated in the 1960s, was based on the observation that mood could be artificially altered with drugs, rather than direct observation of any chemical imbalances,” Leo said. “Since then there has been no direct evidence to confirm the theory and a significant number of findings cast doubt on the theory.”

The researchers said the popularity of the theory is in large part based on the presumed efficacy of the SSRIs, but they say that several large studies now cast doubt on this efficacy. A review of a full set of trial data published in the journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) Medicine last month concluded that much of the perceived efficacy of several of the most common SSRIs was due to the placebo effect. Other studies indicate that for every 10 people who take an SSRI, only one to two people are truly receiving benefit from the medication, according to Lacasse and Leo.

Still, the National Center for Health Statistics found that antidepressants are the most prescribed drugs in the United States, with doctors writing more than 31 million prescriptions in 2005. Both Lacasse and Leo emphasized the importance of patients being given factual information so they can make informed decisions about medications and the role of other potentially useful interventions, such as psychotherapy, exercise or self-help strategies.

*Requested Repost

“Patients might make different choices about the use of medications and possibly use alternative approaches to their distress if they were fully informed,” Lacasse said. “We believe the media can play a positive role by ensuring that their mental health reporting is congruent with scientific literature.”

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