Why is Autism observed in America and not in underdeveloped countries?

Dr Andrew Wakefield wants to study the immigrant Somali families in Minnesota who have observed an unpleasant phenomenon: many of their children are Autistic, to an extent that this is being called ‘The American Disease”. Immigrants realize that this is not due to a lack of vigilance on the part of Somali doctors. They have the opportunity to visit their colleagues in their home country, and in comparing their own children and the children of their contemporaries, the result is glaring. A handful of countries, such as USA, UK, Australia, Vietnam and Sweden, have significantly higher numbers of autistic children, of which the Somali children are a small percentage.  Can we find a cure? How do we prevent more Autistic babies?

Autism amomg the immigrants from Somalia:
The controversial Dr Andrew Wakefield is of the opinion that the answer may lie within the Somali community in Minnesota. He is trying to recruit Somali families for his self-financed study. You can see a video here of Fox news interviewing Dr Wakefield on January 6, 2011. You can see a videohere of CNN channel interviewing Dr Wakefield on January 5, 2011 and a photo of a severely autistic boy.

A Healthy Boy in Famine Stricken Somalia

An Autistic Boy born in USA

UNICEF photo of families in Famine Stricken Somalia

The Somali Autistic children in Minnesota:
Anne Harrington, the special education district coordinator of Minneapolis district noted that the Somali families sometimes have more than one autistic child and it is a more severe form of autism. The kindergarten classes are about 12% Somali but autism cases in the early childhood special education classes are about 17% Somali. Read more and get involved.

It has been observed that there is a cluster of Somali families who have autistic children in Minneapolis. Other immigrant Somali communities have not experienced increased autism rates. A search for a set of triggers should be sought asking two questions:
First, why a cluster of Somali families in Minneapolis has autism, while the other Somali families do not and also, why these families have no autism in Somalia?
The next question is why are Autism rates higher among Somali families than in non Somali families in Minneapolis?

The Somali Autistic children in Sweden
It was observed that many Somali families in Sweden had children with autism. All these families had never heard of autism or observed any symptoms defined as autism in their homeland of Somalia. Dr Barnevick-Olssen and colleagues, psychiatrists in Sweden, published a report of their observations in 2008. They noted that children from Somali backgrounds are over-represented in the total group of children with autism and suggest a search for triggering factors is warranted. Read more. The Somalis living in Sweden have named it the “Swedish disease”.

Researchers in Sweden have requested access to a confidential database for information on Somali and Swedish children to search for clues. Some researchers ask if Somalis need more Vitamin D, coming from sunny Somalia to dark, long, Swedish winters. Is it the lack of sunlight and excessive use of sun protection? However, there is autism being observed in sunny Australia. Read more.

Video: “True wisdom about Autism” – An Autistic Child’s wish by Matthew ward who is Autistic and the forum that made it possible for him to present his wish, his mother, Nancy Alar. If there is one video you must see, it is this one, November 6, 2011. It made me cry. You will see for yourself in this video that an autistic child is intelligent. We must find a cure to help Autistic children speak again.

So what causes Autism?  What cures Autism?                                                                                                                               Scientists still cannot answer these questions. However, they fear that Dr Wakefield’s controversial published paper (see below) may have diverted the study of autism, with too much emphasis on an incorrect hypothesis. The search for both the set of triggers and therapy continues.

What is Autism?                                                                                                                                          When you see a severely Autistic child, you will ask, “What is wrong with this child?” I am not discussing the autism spectrum here, but only severe Autism. To truly understand the Autistic child see video number 4 below, as narrated by an Autistic child, whose simple wish is that he could speak better and that the world was educated to be tolerant of Autistic kids.

Why should all of us be more aware of Autism? Because Autistic kids are here to stay unless we find a prevention or a cure. The CDC says that 1 in 100 kids born today in America will be autistic. They will grow to become adults with Autism who will need to be employed. One in every hundred adults seeking employment in 2030 will be Autistic. You may be the employer or the colleague who will have to adjust because the Autistic adult may be effective at the job skill. What should be society’s role? Knowledge, tolerance and acceptance. Tomorrow it could be someone in your family.

Autistic children are easy to identify even by a layman. They are simply children who are very uniquely different from other children, with a defined set of one or more of the following characteristics:

* Does not communicate or talk – even though they talked as toddlers;
* Smashing head against a wall repeatedly;
* Increasingly violent and aggressive;
* Special bowel, food, intestine issues and acute hearing, olfactory and sense of touch;
* The child may throw unusual tantrums, and needs to be calmed down and not punished; Special aids workers with special training on Autism are superbly able to calm down an Autistic child. They may appear far more anxious than the average child, in a new situation.

Autism – The New Disease: The uninformed and those who are ignorant are naturally unaware of Autism. It is, after all, a “new” disease, a “life style” effect of our modern society’s advanced choices. For those of you who have never witnessed or been in contact with an autistic child, I have selected a few videos here of how Autism in our children exists in our daily life in developed countries. As responsible community members, we have a role in ensuring the safety of all our children. The Autistic child is very healthy, but possesses a special neurologically and intestinally dictated condition. We have not discovered what this phenomenon or set of triggers that produce an autistic child is so far. We owe our Autistic children a decent, safe place in our community.

Videos of Autistic children and how our community responds:
1) An 11 year old Autistic child being beaten by untrained aids in a school bus;
2) A father of an Autistic child in Canada, shoots his 11 year old son and then himself, after learning his child would have to be housed in a facility that does not understand the special needs of an Autistic child;
3) Hopes of Autistic children graduating from a special school;
4) “True wisdom about Autism” – An Autistic Child’s wish by Matthew ward who is Autistic and the forum that made it possible for him to present his wish, his mother, Nancy Alar. If there is one video you must see, it is this one, November 6, 2011. It made me cry.

Who is Dr Andrew Wakefield?                                                                                                                 Dr Wakefield published a paper in The Lancet, saying that the MMR vaccine is linked to the rise of rates of autism in children. Subsequently, his medical license of revoked with concerns raised that his publication was an ‘opinion piece’ and not a scientific paper. Panicked parents avoided and some still continue to avoid the MMR vaccine which prevents measles, mumps and rubella. This avoidance of vaccine has raised concern among the health care community. His co-authors discovered much later that Dr Wakefield had been financed by a law firm, with an intention to sue vaccine manufacturers with the results of his study data. This is a serious conflict of interest which had not been disclosed prior to publication. The fraud allegations arose because of the twelve children in his study, five of the children were autistic before receiving the MMR vaccine and three of the children were not autistic. Dr Wakefield defends himself from the fraud allegations by saying that the claims of the link between the MMR vaccine and autism came from the parents.  Such parents remain Dr Wakefields core group of supporters and continue to believe autism is caused by the MMR vaccine. Dr Wakefield prefers to use the term “linked” rather than “cause” when discussing MMR vaccine and Autism today.

Impact on Health Care Resources:
 However, we are running out of time. Our burden to our future health care community is mind boggling. We have a large population of aging baby boomers presenting with Alzheimers. This is already draining the medical in house facility resources. What will happen when the Autistic children out live their parents? They are very healthy. Originating from different cultural, ethnic and immigrant backgrounds and yet, most presenting with the future task of requiring safe supervision. Civilized society has to begin preparation to face this unique care giver situation of looking after a healthy, aging population, unable to navigate the world on their own.

Lets begin to ask: How are we going to take care of Autistic adults as their baby boomer parents age with Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis or simple frailty? These children will grow up to be adults who will need supervised living. Autism research funding: who is paying and how much?. The time to begin the dialogue in today. George Braddock, President of Creative Housing Solutions LLC is offering solutions for community living for adults with autism.

Related Article
Italian court rules MMR causes Autism: parents sued court for forcing parents to vaccinate child with MMR and win


Filed under Health, Research, Science

38 responses to “Why is Autism observed in America and not in underdeveloped countries?

  1. Pingback: Autistic child or severely Allergic child with Multiple Sclerosis parent | Pursue natural

  2. Pingback: National TV news PBS asks two prominent scientists: Why is Autism rising? | Pursue natural

  3. I am looking for reliable statistics on autism in non vaccinating countries. Do you have any good links? The only things I have found so far are American studies which only want to say that the stats are incomplete and therefore should be ignored.

    • I understand and relate to your frustration about finding sources of reliable data in certain countries.

      The World Health Organization has pushed for a policy of not denying any child in the world the opportunity to get vaccinated. The zeal of generous volunteers trying to save children over the world cannot be denied. However, non vaccinating countries will be harder to find.

      I do have a few suggestions that might help you to get some direction. I believe that many, major USA universities have begun to study this rise in Autism, because every local school today has autistic children. However, I believe because it is a fledgling topic, the researchers are still undergraduates. You might begin your search with major universities.

      Vietnam is a country being studied. One reason might be because although that country has a history with USA. The second, it is the only Eastern country which has earliest documented cases of Autism. Interestingly, immigrants from Vietnam in USA elementary school classrooms have been unofficially observed in the past decade to have autism at the highest rate.

      The Somali story is generally the story heard from most other countries. However, with “progress” reaching the developing world, autism cases are now seen at a rising pace in the major cities. Best way to get a number might be to ask two questions:
      1) how many schools for autism are opening in developing countries.
      2) why did such countries not require such schools before.

      The words of one Physician from India:
      “I have been a Pediatrician for over 50 years. I have never seen such symptoms before in the thousands of children I have treated each year in Kolkatta. My own grand son born in USA has a disease named autism and I cannot cure him. It is a new disease.”
      Today, children with autism are being born in Kolkatta too. Isn’t it time for all of us, all over the world to begin to ask why?

  4. Jessica, here is a link from a 2001 published article from Dr Bernard-Opitz of University of Singapore observing the rise of autism in Singapore, which as you know, is a leading developing country in Asia.

    Perhaps, Dr Bernard-Opitz could provide you with more links about Asian Autism studies.

  5. Pingback: New mutations in coding region of genes, Age of parents, and unknown factors in 70% of ASD patients | Pursue natural

  6. I recently read this article and thought it might be of some interest to you. Though it doesn’t provide any definite conclusions, rates of autism are significantly higher in children whose mother was obese, over those children whose mother was not obese.

    • Thank you, for alerting me to this article by By LINDSEY TANNER on April, 2012. I agree that both obesity and Autism are rising. However, there has been no correlated study on what diet was followed by these mothers. Generally, high corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup has replaced sugar in cheap food and drinks. A Princeton University team has shown the adverse effects such additives could have on the body. It would help researchers if added data were available on dietary habits and of course other factors like pesticides.

    • Again, replying to your thoughtful comment on autism connection causes: I have several articles on role of the aging father, new mutations in the SHANK gene, VitD and other factors that have been shown by researchers to be related to rising Autism. No factor alone is causing Autism. Pregnant mothers have been obese for thousands of years and never produced an Autistic child. We never personally knew an Autistic child and now many families can identify one in their community who needs parental assistance for daily communication. These recent decades are the first when obesity of pregnant mothers is associated with rising Autism. What other factors, when present along with an obese mothers are risk factors within our community? We are in a race against time to prevent more Autism. Together, let’s identify the set of factors and erradicate Autism. Again, thank you krystashealthylife for alerting us about this article.

      • Thank you for all of the information that you have been posting on autism. I know someone who has two nephews who are autistic, but it hasn’t been a large part of my life in any way. I do find genetics and the human body very amazing and I would like to continue looking into the mystery of autism’s origin.
        I do agree that the research was very vague, and if more information had been collected with regard to the women’s diet and their health history, more relevant correlations might have been discovered.

  7. Pingback: G proteins: the connector proteins that try to prevent Autism Spectrum Disorder | Pursue natural

  8. Another great article, I really enjoying going through your blog and finding these gems. As regards the MMR vaccine, there was an interesting experience in Yokohama, Japan,where they stopped the triple vaccine for awhile (but continued to vaccinate, just as 3 seperate injections). The rate of austism presentation rose anyway… I must think, though, that there almost has to be an environmental link with ASD, in light of the Somalians’ experiences! Lots to think about. Thank you!

    • Your Japan information is important to add to this article. Thank you, for alerting us to their experience with the MMR vs separate innoculations.

    • With your permission, will either add this Yokohama research experience here or as a separate article, giving you credit as (Brought to our attention by blogger, everysensory).

      • Oh, no credit necessary, I didn’t do the research! It was just something I found while researching whether or not to vaccinate my eldest son with the MMR combined vaccination (I did, but gave him a month between the other two he would have got with that one!). You may find something to discredit that, even, I didn’t delve that hard. 🙂

  9. boatacrosstheriver


    and thanks for stopping by my blog : )

  10. This is an excellent post. Some food for thought is that Autism is said to be most prevalent in populations that are highly sophisticated and numerate – we have an alarmingly high incidence of Autism, which is often discussed as being related to our island-nation being a leading player in International Finance. Children of accountants and mathematicians are found to be on the scale more often than those who are not. Does this have to do with this type of parent being more ready to seek care? Does it have to do with innacurate reporting? Is it a coincidence? Or is there a scientific link?

    I have a pet peeve about Autism and health insurance coverage. I understand this to be a growing area of awareness throughout the world but my concern is that insurance is not keeping up. We have a quickly growing population of diagnosed autistic children. They are being found in both the local and the expatriate population, primarly children of accountants and financiers and other sophisticated math/science/logic-competent individuals. As everyone is provided for in the islands with school vaccinations and high standards of healthcare, ease of access, and a mix of private and socialized medicine, our reporting is not as unreliable as is typical of the Third World – but our numbers are too small to be credible. And, in truth, our nation is more equipped than most of the Third World to meet the needs of these individuals. But what of the rest of the world?

    There is only one insurer that covers care for the autistic in the Cayman Islands, and, to the best of my knowledge, it is one of the only in the Caribbean region. Fortunately our socialized medicine kicks in in most cases where insurers do not.

    An anecdote for you… I heard one of the old heads of insurance say about two years ago in an industry forum that Autism doesn’t exist. That those types of things can be countered with a parent’s love, attention and discipline. I was FIT TO BE TIED! While she has since moved on, what scares me is how many more people out there may think like her and are in a position to help or harm individuals who are autistic.

    • Bushlings, you bring up two very relevant points:
      1) Insurance coverage
      2) …..primarly children of accountants and financiers and other sophisticated math/science/logic-competent individuals. As everyone is provided for in the islands with school vaccinations….
      We hope others will comment on insurance. We will research further the population affected. Based on your observation, the question we will hope to answer is whether there is a ‘wiring of the brain’ or a genetic code that creates the ‘autistic genetic/brainiac profile’, that might predispose to reacting to an environmental trigger resulting in autism. Why do other children exposed to same environmental triggers (currently unknown) have no autism? Why more boys than girls?

      You may want to look out for an article we will post shortly attemting to address your questions.

      • Jeff

        I’ve wondered about the increases in ASD and the problems isolating the cause. Could there be a catalyst involved?

        Example: most common glues are one part, but some like epoxy are two part. White glue is one part, add drop of glue and press pieces together for bond. Epoxies are commonly two part, resin and hardener, both must be present in correct ratio to affect a reaction.

        Many parents of children with ASD suspect a vaccine because their child’s symptoms show up shortly after receiving a shot. But not all children have a negative reaction. What if there’s a form of “catalyst” working along with the vaccine that triggers the reaction. Children are often irritable after a vaccine and are given ibuprofen or acetaminophen to calm the child. Could the pain remedy act as a “catalyst” for an ASD reaction. Or perhaps a child shows flu like symptoms and the family takes the child to a doctor who gives the child antibiotics while the child’s body is still dealing with the chemicals from the vaccine. Is ASD more common in areas with water fluoridation? There could be any number of “catylists” put in motion by the vaccine.

        The increased prevalence in males over females may be related to the differences in brain development and when vaccines are administered to boys versus girls.

        Just wondering…a lot yet unknown…

  11. Pingback: Do Anorexics and Autism Spectrum Disorder share any common characteristics? | Pursue natural

  12. Pingback: Preclinical studies: Autism compound, KM-391, significantly decreased plasticity of the brain and increased serotonin levels | Pursue natural

  13. Thanks for stopping by my blog and for this interesting read!

  14. Reblogged this on EMPOWERED RESULTS ~ Creating A Difference In Our Communities… and commented:
    I found this post when visiting this blog. How interesting!

  15. Pingback: World’s largest collection of frozen Autism brains ruined in freezer malfunction | Pursue natural

  16. Barbara

    Dr Peter Fletcher, form Chief UK Scientific Officer at the Department of Health on MMR/Autism:-

    “There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves.”


    “Clinical and scientific data is steadily accumulating that the live measles virus in MMR can cause brain, gut and immune system damage in a subset of vulnerable children,”


    “it is the steady accumulation of evidence, from a number of respected universities, teaching hospitals and laboratories around the world, that matters here. There’s far too much to ignore. Yet government health authorities are, it seems, more than happy to do so.”

  17. Pingback: Autism in pristine Phu Quoc island of Vietnam – is the rise in numbers simple overdiagnosis? | Pursue natural

  18. Thank you for this article and links. I have been interested in learning about autism since I first heard about it many years ago. I always thought they were special (in a loving sense, not degrading) and to understand how they think. Then my niece at 3 years old was diagnosed. She is one of the worst cases they have seen in her area. It’s heartbreaking to see all that she is put through for treatments that never work, all the health issues she deals with in addition to autism symptoms (pre-mature puberty & Lyme disease) and she is not able to communicate if she’s in pain or her feelings about what she’s gone through. I got to spend time with them in hopes I could at least get a hug before I left (they live in another state so I don’t think she knows who I really am). I kept my distance but just observed. Before the end of my trip she was favoring me above her dad and giving me many hugs and kisses. That was a special week for me to have with her. 🙂

  19. Great post! I agree that it is important to raise awareness of autism and to promote acceptance of those on the autism spectrum. My son Caleb has autism – he is 12 and non-verbal. My husband and I speak to groups (both adults and children) to help explain autism and how they can help.

  20. Pingback: SynapDx Corporation lands 15.4 million for Big Autism clinical Study | Pursue natural

  21. First of all, great post!
    Second, this is in response to the discussion about the prevalence of autistic children being born to those involved in finance/logic/scientific fields: while I believe there has to be some type of environmental contributing factors, I can’t help but notice the strong possibility of genetics in autism. Many of those that are likely to enter the logic/science/math fields may be on the autism spectrum themselves, diagnosed or not. There are several well-known scientists who many believe could have been autistic because of their reported behavior and mannerisms. Others in this field are stereotyped as having “spectrum-like behaviors” as well. In my own personal experience, my ex-husband was a computer programmer who did display some very rigid behavior. His father reportedly acted the same way (he was adopted). Our eldest daughter is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. I think eventually both a genetic and an environmental component will be discovered.

  22. Thought provoking. Thank you.

  23. Pingback: Autism Scientists seek public assistance to detect, measure and prevent Autism and major psychiatric disorders | Pursue natural

  24. All interesting. Why do we overlook the obvious issue? Food and environment.

    Do we overlook it because to acknowledge it means there is something wrong with our society’s really, really big food supply system? Think about that as you brush the donut crumbs off the table. (Did you just swallow a step towards Alzheimer’s?)

    Sadly, I am not a novice in this. Thanks to Dr. Doris Rapp (no longer in practice) and her fabulous book “Is this Your Child?” my family was saved. There is NO magic pill people. WE are doing this to ourselves and our children. My mother is gone to Dementia at an early age. She used to laugh at my efforts which saved my children from being permanently labeled and disabled. She will exist for many more years on the nursing home’s SAD (Standard American Diet) Food.

    It takes a lot of WORK and VIGILANCE to see a child (or adult) like this improve to fulfill their life’s purpose. My son is brilliant. He is not handicapped and medicated today because of Doris Rapp and her work in Environmental Illness.

    We no longer need to wonder what we will get if we toss a lot of poor food, perfumes, and Febreeeeze at a child.

    Best to all those suffering.

  25. In everything I’ve read (a lot in preparation for the birth of a nephew) there is no link whatsoever between any vaccine and autism rates. What do you think of the possibility that the rates are the same everywhere, but detection is not as common in places with significant additional problems? In counties with higher rates of child mortality, is it logical to hypothesize that a significant percentage of autistic children would be among those who do not survive?

  26. Interesting, provoking post. Hope 2014 brings us more insights

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