In today’s world, the increase in disease is a thought-provoking event because there is progress in medicine and people are more conscious than before. These are happening but, on the other hand, also progress in development in medical science, really poisoning foods and producing disorder for taking advantage are increasing.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is one of the rapidly spreading everyday disorders. Scientists are trying to find the cause of this increase. As a cause of autism, genetic and environmental factors are emphasized.
In this article, I will try to explain why Autism Spectrum Disorder is increasing, what kind of causes can be behind this increase, and what kind of precautions can be taken in order to prevent it.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism is an important neurodevelopmental disorder in which symptoms are observed in early childhood. The symptoms of the disorder may begin in the early stages of development in some children, while in some children there may be regressions or disruptions in the normal course of development.
Parents suspect of ASD when their child’s speech is delayed or unresponsive. The parents have to ask a doctor if the children do not speak when their peers do, or if they have been able to say single words before, but they have forgotten these words in recent months.
Sensory problems are prominent symptoms in autism. Sensory problems reduce the harmony of the individual with the environment and social interactions. It reduces the individual’s adaptation to life.
For example; high sensitivity to sound, touch sensitivity, sensitivity to light, problems of depth, problems with balance, and the problems that continue with the development of the individual continue to increase the problems in the social order.
The reason why individuals have Autism Spectrum Disorder is a controversial subject. Because there is no single cause for diagnosed as autism. Scientists think it has many causes. They detect certain medical causes in only 5-10% of individuals with autism.
Studies have shown that brain cells are working in a strange way in individuals with autism’s brains. Chemical conductors that carry messages between brain cells are thought to have excess or deficiency. Some clues suggest that ASD is more related to genetic causes. Due to these genetic reasons, the chemical balance in some structures in the brain is thought to be impaired. In other respect, genetics is not enough to explain causes and also the reason for increasing.
The leading causes of autism are heavy metals, antibiotics, and other chemical toxins. Other causes include infections, lack of oxygen during the prenatal- postnatal period, and the decrease in brain blood flow. Autism Spectrum Disorder is caused by a number of interconnected mechanisms in children who are unable to cope adequately with toxins and infections due to their genetic predisposition.
There are some studies that indicate the reason behind Autism Spectrum Disorder. Genetics are involved in most of the autism cases. Children born to older parents are at a higher risk of having ASD. Parents who have a child with ASD a 2- 18 % chance of having a second child who is also affected. Among identical twins, if one child has it, the other will be affected with high risk. Over the last years, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism, however, the results are clear that vaccines do not cause autism.
The apparent rise in autism cases triggers two burning questions for parents, psychologists, and scientists:
- Is Autism Spectrum Disorder truly on the rise, or do the new statistics simply reflect the growing awareness of the condition, the expanded definition, and other factors?
- If Autism Spectrum Disorder is on the rise, as most experts and scientists believe, what is causing the increase?
Why Autism Spectrum Disorder Is Increasing?
Nowadays, yes, rates of Autism Spectrum Disorder are rising. However, it doesn’t mean that more people have Autism Spectrum Disorder. The prevalence of individuals with autism doesn’t seem to be higher than before. But there is one shift that is clear that more people are receiving diagnoses and attention than in the past.
In recent years, ASD has become an unpredictable outbreak. The amazing advances in medicine cannot prevent this epidemic. One of the 60-70 children now has autism. Many mothers and fathers are experiencing the fear that their children may have that neurodevelopmental disorder.
While the incidence of autism was 1 in 1000 children in 1995, it was 1 in 300 children in 2005. In recent years, the estimation is 1 in 68 children. This situation shows that the prevalence of Autism spectrum Disorder has increased by 8 times in recent years and this has been the subject of debate among scientists.
The scientists, who have examined the increase in autism cases, have agreed that the 8 times increase in that disorder is not only based on genetic factors, but also environmental factors have an impact on increasing.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a disorder known to occur in the first years of life. For this reason, the diagnosis of newborn children is always progressing. As a result of the studies conducted on the subject, individuals who show signs of this condition even though they are very mild in their advanced ages are included in the definition. If the clarification is needed, autism has not begun to increase out of blue. With time, more people are accepted as having autism because the definition is expanded.
Autism Spectrum Disorder cannot be diagnosed via blood tests, brain scans or any other physical test. Instead of those, a professional, usually it could be a pediatrician or psychologist, will meet with the child, talk with the parents and teachers and gather information about the child’s behavior at home and at school. They then compare that information to an agreed set of diagnostic criteria a kind of “autism spectrum disorder checklist”.
This checklist is reviewed every 10 to 15 years. In the case of autism, this set of criteria has changed substantially over the years, listing more behaviors that are considered to be indicative of ASD and also including descriptions of subtler symptoms that previously may have been overlooked. In essence, the diagnostic criteria have become wider and finer.
The scientists, who have seen an extreme increase in the number of children diagnosed with ASD in the last decade, emphasize the need for more extensive research into the causes that trigger autism. However, research cannot link the increase to a single cause.
As a result of the researches, some non-severe learning disorders are detected in some of the individuals who are older. It was learned that individuals who exhibited the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder did not have such disorders in their childhood period. As a result of studies that caused the expansion of the definition of autism, there is a great increase in the number of people with autism in the world. In this way, it has been ensured that the awareness that should be gained long years ago in society, is formed indirectly. It is underlined that autism is not a disorder only, but it a disorder that needs support.
As the maternal age rises in the advanced age pregnancy, the risk of the child becoming have Autism Spectrum Disorder is increasing. While the risk of having a child with autism in mothers aged 40 and over is 77%, a 25-year-old mother’s risk of giving birth to a child with autism is much lower.
Women over 40 years of age have a 51% greater risk of having a child with autism than mothers of 25-29 years. Mothers between the ages of 35-39 have a 31% higher risk than mothers between the ages of 25-29. This shows that there is a direct proportion between having a child with autism and a mother’s age.
Recent research suggests that MMR vaccines and thimerosal vaccines do not induce autism. There is no evidence of increased vaccination in terms of increasing having Autism Spectrum Disorder.
According to research conducted in Canada in 2006, although childhood vaccines do not stop the debate on the increase of autism, it is a fact that there is a need for evidence to be held responsible for the increase in autism. Even though the type of mercury (Hg) in vaccines is eliminated, autism continues to rise rapidly. In addition, although the MMR vaccine was banned in Japan, the rate of increase in children with ASD continued to go up.
There is another claim that children who live in highly rainy areas have increased the risk of autism. However, the scientist does not agree with this idea and stated that environmental factors such as being in confined areas rather than rainfall were effective in triggering autism spectrum disorder.
Also, other claim is that the risk of autism in children with parents with schizophrenia or depression is 2 times higher than in other children.
Addition to this information, also there are some other suggestions about what is behind the reason. In the past, there were mostly crowded families. There were more siblings and more interaction between families and children, also there was no television. In the process of time, the transfer of information from the family to the child began to decrease.
As families migrate to cities and move to apartments, parents start to work, nannies often take care of the child. They change their diapers, feed them, but sometimes they can’t meet the child’s needs. Especially boys are fidget and it’s hard to play with them. They used to play with their brothers and sisters. There were more siblings in the family. In the past, every child used to play with siblings, other children on the street, and the children of other relatives.
Now, this social environment is declining and there is a risk group that is genetically disposed to Autism Spectrum Disorder. This group is beginning to show symptoms of autism. In fact, there is such an increase in Autism Spectrum Disorder with the help of this way.
Interestingly, ASD is less common in villages. If the parents are working, more nanny care includes and more urban life includes, there is a growing in Autism Spectrum Disorder.
According to other theories which underlying the increasing of ASD, men are wanting to have a career with the help of schooling and delayed marriages help to that increase. Scientists say that, when men have delayed marriages and late-aged fatherhood cause to their children have autism, some of the children with ASD can be treated with the help of the early diagnosis.
Moreover, there are some studies that are conducted about the relationship between the brain and the digestive system. Antigenic stimuli, such as an additional food allergy, digestive problems, epilepsy, gluten sensitivity, frequent use of antibiotics, vaccines, or viruses, which are haven by children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, have more serious effects on brain transplantation than children without ASD. This effect is not unilateral and sometimes disrupts the control of the brain on the digestive system.
On the other hand, vitamins and minerals do not pass into the blood due to a digestive disorder, while harmful microbes and toxins that overgrow in the intestine pass into the blood. All these events make the autistic symptoms more serious.
If you ask why these children are more sensitive than other children, there is no definitive answer to this question. However, it is thought that the area in which the study should be performed is blood, brain, and intestinal mucosal barriers.
As a conclusion, autism rates continue to climb and professionals do not exactly know the reason behind that. More school children are being diagnosed with ASD and professionals haven’t been able to figure out why. There are no obvious environmental causes for the rising rates. Without data on adults, it remains unclear whether more people have autism, or the condition has always been this common, just unrecognized or called by other names.
There aren’t worldwide uniform criteria for assessing autism. Even if there were, not every country has the resources in order to conduct such an assessment. We don’t know if that is due to a lack of awareness of the option to seek services, or if, for environmental reasons, there truly are fewer children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in rural areas.