Leading British Newspaper Calls for Inquiry Into Massive Increases in Autism, Speech & Language Disorders in Children – 1 in 77 Now Diagnosed With Autism
WHAT is the explanation for the apparent astonishing surge in the numbers of children in Scottish schools with conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning difficulties?
According to recently released figures, almost 120,000 Scottish children are now said to suffer and to require extra classroom help. The figure has shot up from fewer than 29,000 in 2002 – a rise that begs searching questions as to why the figures have exploded in such a dramatic manner.
Are there genetic or environmental factors that might help account for such a rise? Are the figures the result of changes in definition or statistical method? And if the figures are borne out by subsequent investigation, what are the implications for school budgets and staffing? Scottish schools would need to recruit those with experience in remedial teaching.
The initial reaction among many may be scepticism as to the provenance and robustness of the statistics. For an older generation of teachers, the explosive rise in the numbers of children with these conditions may be due in part to an increase in the propensity to assert such classification as an explanation for “difficult” behaviour. For others, they may point to an admission of failure on the part of teachers to handle the range of child behaviours as once they did.
Officials believe the huge increase is attributable to greater public and professional awareness, improved diagnosis and wider diagnostic criteria. The primary reason is thought to be better recording in schools. Charities have immediately challenged this, arguing that these factors alone cannot explain the rise in children listed with additional needs. They are calling it, rather melodramatically, “an unprecedented calamity in child health”.
Autism concerns abnormalities of brain development and behaviour which emerge before a child is three years old. It is characterised by impairments in social interaction and communication, as well as restricted interests and stereotyped behaviour. Understanding of causation is far from complete. Some researchers suspect the condition does not have a single cause, but is instead a complex disorder with a set of core aspects that have distinct causes. Autism, once rare, is now more common than all other serious childhood conditions combined. One schoolchild in 77 in Scotland has an autism diagnosis, while the number of children with speech and language disorder has also increased sharply.
Whether the figures are the result of better record-keeping or a more disturbing rise in the underlying incidence of autism, the case for an independent and thorough inquiry is now compelling.
Once this is undertaken and its results studied and discussed, schools will then have to consider the consequences and step up extra classroom support and additional teacher staffing accordingly.
Faith, hope and clarity
IT HAS long been understood by third-sector organisations that their charitable status should not be used for party political purposes. This would be an abuse of the benefits conferred by being an officially recognised charity with the tax concessions enjoyed as a result.
This much is clear. But contributions to debate on the independence referendum are now seen to present a similar problem, even though First Minister Alex Salmond has specifically encouraged civic Scotland to get involved and make their voices heard. Draft guidance from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator sounds a warning on what charities can say on the independence issue. But whether it provides guidance or obfuscation is moot. The document runs to seven pages, complete with a 21-point “table of information” and warns that supporting a Yes or a No vote may go beyond the scope of some charities.
Little wonder charities may find this a constraint on their entitlement to raise questions of concern specific to their organisations. These can range from legislative changes in their field, to funding concerns. Martin Sime, chief executive of third-sector umbrella body the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said the guidance, while well intentioned, was likely to result in more confusion than it set out to dispel. The danger is many organisations will now feel inhibited by some aspect of this new guidance and unable to express themselves on issues central to their charitable work as clearly as they would like. Scotland’s third sector should not be put at a disadvantage in this important debate as a result of fussy and confusing guidance by the Charity Commissioner. SOURCE THE SCOTSMAN
By , Daily Mail, UK 20th March 2009
Far more children have autism than previously thought, a study of British school pupils has found.
Researchers now believe as many as one in 60 children has some form of the condition.
The disturbing findings, which are due to be made public within weeks, mean that up to 216,000 children in the UK could suffer from an autistic condition, although many have not yet been diagnosed.
The research could have a major impact on public services in Britain with many more youngsters potentially needing a lifetime of special care.
Shocking: Many children who have a form of autism have not been diagnosed
Autism covers a spectrum of developmental disorders which affect a person’s communication and social skills.
Families caring for severely autistic children say their lives are devastated by the condition, and looking after sufferers of autism and related disorders already costs the nation £28billion a year.
The latest study, by academics at Cambridge University’s respected Autism Research Centre, involved thousands of children.
Controversially, it showed autism rates were nearly twice as high as the figure of one child in 100 which is currently accepted by the National Autistic Society.
It also surpassed the one in 87 figure revealed by research among south London pupils three years ago, which was published in the Lancet medical journal.
Cases of autism have significantly increased over the past 40 years.
In the 1980s, for example, a study found only four in every 10,000 showed signs of childhood autism.
The Cambridge study, led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, states clearly that the apparently higher rate found recently is down to better detection and diagnosis.
The outline results of the professor’s research have already been revealed at a major international conference of world experts on autism, although they have not yet been formally published.
The audience in London was told that autism spectrum conditions have shown a ‘steady increase’ over four decades.
The researchers conclude that a figure of one in 60 gives an accurate picture.
They estimate that one per cent of children – one in 100 – are known to have an autistic condition.
But, significantly, they say that for every three known cases, there are two unknown. This equates to five cases in every 300 children – or one in 60.
‘This has implications for planning, diagnostic, social and health services,’ the researchers told the conference.
Benet Middleton, of the National Autistic Society, yesterday welcomed the study’s findings, saying: ‘It is very likely there are people affected by this complex condition who have been completely overlooked by education and health officials and remain undiagnosed.’
The Mail understands that two possible lower rates of autism among children – around one in 74 and around one in 94 – are also cited in the study.
These were estimates made by statisticians to compensate for missing data – for instance, when parents failed to return survey forms.
Even these lower rates, which were not mentioned in the study’s conclusion, would still have a significant impact on schools, social services, and the NHS.
Anti-vaccine campaigners have previously claimed a link between autism and the MMR triple jab given to children aged between 12 and 15 months.
However, the Department of Health has dismissed the idea and Professor Baron-Cohen said: ‘ Environmental factors such as chemicals and children’s exposure to testosterone in the womb are a more likely cause.
‘At this point, one can conclude the evidence does not support the idea that MMR causes autism.’
Yesterday he declined to comment on the new findings, which will be published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Dr Richard Halvorsen of Baby-Jabs, a private vaccination clinic in London, told the Mail this week: ‘The Cambridge figures are very concerning.’
In the U.S., President Barack Obama has just launched a multimillion dollar offensive to combat autism and find its causes. Source dailymail
Schoolgirls should stop being given a vaccine which helps protect them from cervical cancer until a “proper investigation” is held into side effects, a campaigner has insisted.
Freda Birrell, of UK Association of HPV Vaccine Injured Daughters (AHVID), called for a moratorium on the use of the controversial HPV vaccine until more is known about “serious adverse reactions”.
She made the plea as she called for the Scottish Government to hold a roundtable discussion on the safety of the vaccine, involving medical and scientific experts from both sides of the debate. Members of Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee agreed to ask ministers for their view on this, although committee convener Michael McMahon expressed some reservations about the petition.
Mr McMahon said while Ms Birrell had “raised a lot of very important issues”, he added he was unsure about what would be resolved by holding a roundtable discussion.
“I’m not quite sure how we can take this petition forward on the basis that all you are asking for is a roundtable discussion,” he said.
But Ms Birrell said the point of having roundtable talks was so “you people can ask for the science” about the safety of HPV vaccines.
“Where is the science that will show there is no harm to the child?” she asked.”That is why we asked for a roundtable so questions can be asked openly and they could be asked for that science – they will ignore us but they will not ignore you.”
The campaigner told MSPs on the committee: “I have never asked for a ban on the HPV vaccines, I know it’s a huge thing to do that.
“What I am asking, if it was possible for a moratorium so a proper investigation could take place to determine why certain young people are having serious adverse reactions and these serious adverse reactions are lasting for many years.”
She said AHVID, which was set up earlier this year, represented those “who have had their lives turned upside down after HPV vaccine”.
It has 208 members, including 15% who are in Scotland, but Ms Birrell said: “We don’t know how many others are out there but for now there appears to be no end in sight.”
In July the European Medicines Agency began a specific review to clarify the safety profile of HPV, with AHVID currently compiling a submission to this.
Ms Birrell said: “Of the 88 family reports analysed so far 68% reported their daughters had experienced health problems serious enough to interfere with their education, 24% reported symptoms so severe that their daughter could no longer participate in educational activities, 70% required help with daily care and a full 91% reported being told their daughter’s medical conditions were psychological in origin.”
She added: “I am very much aware HPV vaccines are a controversial issue and that this information put’s Scotland at a cross roads with a very difficult decision to make.
“Do we accept what the manufacturer and their list of experts are saying and assume that HPV vaccines are safe and effective and there just happens to be an epidemic of psychosomatic disorders spreading round the world, affecting certain young people who have one thing in common – they were injected with the HPV vaccine.
“Or do we listen to experts from both sides, to try to discover exactly what the situation is and make every effort we can to get the problem solved?”
Sanofi Pasteur MSD which produces the HPV vaccine Gardasil said: The safety of our vaccines is of the utmost importance to us; our vaccines adhere to strict testing procedures to assess their quality, efficacy and safety before being administered to the public. “Furthermore, an on-going assessment involving our company, health authorities and regulatory agencies at both national and international levels takes place to continuously evaluate the safety profile of our vaccines.
“We welcome any rigorous, scientifically based evaluation of the safety and efficacy of vaccines in general.”
GlaxoSmithKline which markets the Cervarix HPV vaccine said: “It is GSK’s practice to monitor and routinely investigate and analyse all available safety data both from marketed use and from clinical studies for all its medicines and vaccines.
“More than 55 million doses of Cervarix have been distributed worldwide since its first market introduction in 2007.
“GSK remains confident in the benefit-risk profile of Cervarix to help prevent cervical cancer and this view is supported by several independent health organisations.
“The World Health Organization (WHO), the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have made independent reviews of the safety and efficacy of HPV vaccination and conclude the benefits of the vaccines outweigh any associated risks. These organisations all continue to recommend HPV vaccination to help protect women against cervical cancer.” Source HeraldScotland
- Pupils in Year 10 reportedly fainted after being given their jabs
- Paramedics were called but all have reportedly now recovered
- School is investigating whether faulty vaccines were to blame
Paramedics had to be called to a secondary school when pupils fell ill and fainted after being given their vaccinations.
Around 10 to 15 students from Year 10 reportedly keeled over after getting their jabs at Northampton School for Boys on Tuesday.
One parent, whose son saw the drama unfold, said children were seen ‘on their backs on the floor with their legs up on chairs’.
Pupils in Year 10 of a school in Northampton reportedly fainted after receiving vaccinations. File photo
The woman, who didn’t want to be named, added: ‘Several different vaccines were being administered, and around 10 to 15 pupils keeled over and paramedics were called.
‘The rest of the jabs were cancelled and a letter was sent home to the parents of pupils who had been given the jabs about what to do if they felt nauseous. Rumours say there may have been a duff batch of vaccines.’
The teenagers were later said to be ‘well’ but the school sent a letter home to parents warning them to seek medical advice if their sons started to feel ill.
In the note, the school said it is not known what caused the pupils to fall ill but said the vaccine was withdrawn ‘as a precaution’.
The letter, sent by the nursing team, reads: ‘Dear Parent/Carer, please be advised that the immunisation session your child attended today was suspended due to unforseen circumstances.
‘Some of the vaccinated children have become unwell shortly after vaccination.’
The school later sent out letters telling parents the batch of vaccines had been withdrawn as a precaution
The note continued: ‘Your child has received their scheduled vaccination and, whilst we are not expecting him to become unwell, we are advising that if he experiences sensations of dizziness. nausea, skin rash or breathing difficulties to seek the appropriate medical advice.
‘At present we are unclear regarding the reasons for the reaction to the vaccination and are completing an investigation with our immunisation colleagues.
‘We can provide reassurance that the small number of children involved are currently well.
‘However, as a precaution, we have withdrawn the batch of vaccine that they had received. If you wish to discuss this further please contact the School Nursing team.’
An investigation has now been launched by the Northampton School Nursing Team at Northants Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. source DailyMail