# Autism: Maybe it's not from vaccines & GMO, after all

## Recommended Posts

Interesting study.

Fine particulate air pollution linked With increased autism risk.

http://neurosciencenews.com/air-pollution-autism-pregnancy-1637/

Women exposed to high levels of fine particulate matter specifically during pregnancy, particularly during the third trimester, may face up to twice the risk of having a child with autism than mothers living in areas with low particulate matter, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The greater the exposure, the greater the risk, researchers found. It was the first U.S.-wide study exploring the link between airborne particulate matter and autism.

What do you think the implications are? Are we all at risk, and can anything tangible really be done to address?
##### Share on other sites

Seeking a bit more background on PM2.5 I found this UK Govt Doc it was prepared by an academic working group for various Depts of Govt in UK. The Exec Summary can provide a good background for those looking to get up to speed as I was - the report is 200 odd pages and technical but much can be gained even by a beginner (I had no idea what pm2.5 was)

For those with the will and the ken - the paper itself is here

A paper that is useful in understanding the Odd Ratio given by the researchers

##### Share on other sites

Is it still known whether or not there is an actual increase in ASD or if its primarily a difference in diagnosis?

##### Share on other sites

Is it still known whether or not there is an actual increase in ASD or if its primarily a difference in diagnosis?

I am not quite sure what you are getting at - I think a word might have been mangled in your post

"ASD was based on maternal report , which was validated against the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised in a subset."

"Therefore, both ADI-R and SRS scores support reliable ASD case ascertainment in our population."

Standard diagnostic tests were run on a subset which bore out the maternal questionaire

##### Share on other sites

I am not quite sure what you are getting at - I think a word might have been mangled in your post

"ASD was based on maternal report , which was validated against the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised in a subset."

"Therefore, both ADI-R and SRS scores support reliable ASD case ascertainment in our population."

Standard diagnostic tests were run on a subset which bore out the maternal questionaire

From 1996 to sometime in the 2000s the number of reported cases of autism grew from ~2 to ~6 per 1000. However, at that time it was not known if this increase was actually a factor of some environmental/biological cause driving a real increase in the incidence of ASD or if the incidence had always been that high and methods of diagnosing it had simply gotten better.

At the same time, there has been a lot of attempts to find actual environmental causes....some complete BS, as in the case of vaccines or GMOs being linked to it.

The other issue I have to ask is what is the effect size? They report a significant association, but statistical significance is merely a measure of your ability to reliably tell a difference. It doesn't tell you how large of a difference/effect there is. If pollution increases the risk of ASD by 1% then does it really matter? What about 5% vs 10% vs 50%...if the effect size is small, then these results will not really explain much in the way of why ASD has increased. That is the real question.

If you look at the reported Odds Ratios (OR)....all of these are rather small. As a general rule of thumb based on Cohen's 1988 work, an OR 0f ~1.5 is a "small" effect, an OR of ~3.5 is a "medium" effect, and an OR of ~9.0 is a "large" effect. All of the reported ORs in this study are on the order ~1.5....which means that reported association is only a small effect and can only explain a small fraction of ASD.

##### Share on other sites

Chad - Unsure whether or not you realize my thread title was a bit tongue in cheek. Either way:

Methods: We conducted a nested case-control study of participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II), a prospective cohort of 116,430 US female nurses recruited in 1989, followed by biennial mailed questionnaires. Subjects were NHS II participants’ children born 1990-2002 with ASD (n=245), and children without ASD (n=1522) randomly selected using frequency matching for birth years. ASD was based on maternal report, which was validated against the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised in a subset. Monthly averages of PM with diameters ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5) and 2.5-10 µm (PM10-2.5) were predicted from a spatiotemporal model for the continental US and linked to residential addresses.

Results: PM2.5 exposure during pregnancy was associated with increased odds of ASD, with an adjusted odds ratio (OR) for ASD per interquartile range higher PM2.5 (4.42 µg/m3) of 1.57 (95% CI: 1.22, 2.03) among women with the same address before and after pregnancy (160 cases, 986 controls). Associations with PM2.5 exposure 9 months before or after the pregnancy were weaker in independent models and null when all three time periods were included, while the association with the 9 months of pregnancy remained (OR=1.63; 95% CI: 1.08-2.47). The association between ASD and PM2.5 was stronger for exposure during the third trimester (OR=1.42 per inter-quartile range increase in PM2.5, 95% CI: 1.09, 1.86) than other trimesters (ORs 1.06 and 1.00) when mutually adjusted. There was little association between PM10-2.5 and ASD.

Conclusions: Higher maternal exposure to PM2.5 during pregnancy, in particular the third trimester, was associated with greater odds of her child having ASD.

##### Share on other sites

I was just thrilled to see a nicely run proper article on environmental factors that heighten the risk of ASD - we have seen so much crap thrown at the press dressed up as research, reprinted ad nauseam, and leading to severe negative effects. And - I think this was iNow's point as well - we won't read about this in the press.

And for a group of conditions that we know have multiple causal factors an odds ratio of 1.67 isn't that bad. Cohen's rules of thumb are all very well - but major health initiatives have been launched on ORs that would be classified as small; I would be surprised (and delighted) if a medical paper can come up with a new idea for any common ailment that gets above 9. For the well researched areas the sorts of things that will get an OR above 9 have already been found or are awaiting that once in a generation spark of genius.

The other issue I have to ask is what is the effect size? They report a significant association, but statistical significance is merely a measure of your ability to reliably tell a difference. It doesn't tell you how large of a difference/effect there is. If pollution increases the risk of ASD by 1% then does it really matter? What about 5% vs 10% vs 50%...if the effect size is small, then these results will not really explain much in the way of why ASD has increased. That is the real question.

From this paragraph I am not sure you are completely au fait with ORs as used in medical papers. The OR is not a percentage chance - it is the ratio between

$OddsRatio=\frac{Ill and At Risk / Healthy and At Risk}{Ill and Not at Risk / Healthy and Not At Risk}$

This ratio is 1.42. This is the odds that an outcome will occur given a particular exposure, compared to the odds of the outcome occurring in the absence of that exposure.

##### Share on other sites

And - I think this was iNow's point as well - we won't read about this in the press.

As with iNows misleading hippie-punching in the OP title, a false presumption: I read this in my local paper, the New York Times, and a couple of lefty environmental newsletters, days ago. Here's a hippie website with it (you have to go to the archives, it's a few days old) http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org

Here's my local paper, more than a month ago, reprinting an earlier release of the "autism spectrum" (ADHD) correlation from the Washington Post on November 14th : http://m.startribune.com/nation/282353901.html The NYT of course had it in its science section, I can't remember if in a Sunday or Tuesday edition.

It appears to have worked its way down to you guys, which in my experience means the lefties and hippies have been reacting to it for a while. Maybe the reason you guys think this stuff isn't in the press is because it has been and gone from the front pages by the time you hear about it?

btw: sure it's a joke, but it's always the same twisted little joke, so: PAH correlation does not exonerate vaccines or GMOs - the vaccines have been largely but not completely exonerated, at least after the mercury was largely removed from the most worrisome ones; the two or three GMs in the common diet, in their various Os of significance, remain uninvestigated for that or any other long term hazard (if solid research is to be done, several other medical hazards of the currently significant dietary GMOs would be far more likely and urgent, anyway).

bbtw: One of the aspects of this latest correlation is that the first and most often mentioned mechanism to be investigated, a general increase in inflammation, is also indicated by the remaining hints of vaccine correlation.

bbbtw: Exposure to PAH in general, including fine particulates, long predates the current autism epidemic - so the issue isn't going to be as simple as "don't breathe dirty air". Which is hopeful, actually - maybe there's just one or two specific bad factors, newly introduced, we would have some hope of getting rid of.

Edited by overtone
##### Share on other sites

I was just thrilled to see a nicely run proper article on environmental factors that heighten the risk of ASD - we have seen so much crap thrown at the press dressed up as research, reprinted ad nauseam, and leading to severe negative effects. And - I think this was iNow's point as well - we won't read about this in the press.

And for a group of conditions that we know have multiple causal factors an odds ratio of 1.67 isn't that bad. Cohen's rules of thumb are all very well - but major health initiatives have been launched on ORs that would be classified as small; I would be surprised (and delighted) if a medical paper can come up with a new idea for any common ailment that gets above 9. For the well researched areas the sorts of things that will get an OR above 9 have already been found or are awaiting that once in a generation spark of genius.

From this paragraph I am not sure you are completely au fait with ORs as used in medical papers. The OR is not a percentage chance - it is the ratio between

$OddsRatio=\frac{Ill and At Risk / Healthy and At Risk}{Ill and Not at Risk / Healthy and Not At Risk}$

This ratio is 1.42. This is the odds that an outcome will occur given a particular exposure, compared to the odds of the outcome occurring in the absence of that exposure.

I didn't say that the OR was a "percentage chance". That paragraph doesn't even mention OR, rather that was a separate post that automatically got combined after with the following paragraph, which itself was a separate post. I first posted this paragraph before having read the paper and was giving an explanation of why effect size is important and not just "statistical significance". While the OR is not a "percentage chance"....it does give one a rough idea of the effect size.

As with iNows misleading hippie-punching in the OP title, a false presumption: I read this in my local paper, the New York Times, and a couple of lefty environmental newsletters, days ago. Here's a hippie website with it (you have to go to the archives, it's a few days old) http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org

Here's my local paper, more than a month ago, reprinting an earlier release of the "autism spectrum" (ADHD) correlation from the Washington Post on November 14th : http://m.startribune.com/nation/282353901.html The NYT of course had it in its science section, I can't remember if in a Sunday or Tuesday edition.

It appears to have worked its way down to you guys, which in my experience means the lefties and hippies have been reacting to it for a while. Maybe the reason you guys think this stuff isn't in the press is because it has been and gone from the front pages by the time you hear about it?

btw: sure it's a joke, but it's always the same twisted little joke, so: PAH correlation does not exonerate vaccines or GMOs - the vaccines have been largely but not completely exonerated, at least after the mercury was largely removed from the most worrisome ones; the two or three GMs in the common diet, in their various Os of significance, remain uninvestigated for that or any other long term hazard (if solid research is to be done, several other medical hazards of the currently significant dietary GMOs would be far more likely and urgent, anyway).

bbtw: One of the aspects of this latest correlation is that the first and most often mentioned mechanism to be investigated, a general increase in inflammation, is also indicated by the remaining hints of vaccine correlation.

bbbtw: Exposure to PAH in general, including fine particulates, long predates the current autism epidemic - so the issue isn't going to be as simple as "don't breathe dirty air". Which is hopeful, actually - maybe there's just one or two specific bad factors, newly introduced, we would have some hope of getting rid of.

Its not that PAH exonerates vaccines or GMOs....it doesn't need to because there is absolutely no correlation between vaccines or GMOs and ASD. Its not for lack of studies or attempts to make such correlations either. Its because there simply is none.

PAH at least has some mild association, although it is a mild one. Compare the Odds Ratio of parental age and Autism....its twice as much PAH and approaches or is in the range of effect size that Cohen would call "medium" effect. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18945690

One thing we do know, is that parents are waiting longer to have children and the average age of parents is increasing. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db21.htm

I was just thrilled to see a nicely run proper article on environmental factors that heighten the risk of ASD - we have seen so much crap thrown at the press dressed up as research, reprinted ad nauseam, and leading to severe negative effects. And - I think this was iNow's point as well - we won't read about this in the press.

And for a group of conditions that we know have multiple causal factors an odds ratio of 1.67 isn't that bad. Cohen's rules of thumb are all very well - but major health initiatives have been launched on ORs that would be classified as small; I would be surprised (and delighted) if a medical paper can come up with a new idea for any common ailment that gets above 9. For the well researched areas the sorts of things that will get an OR above 9 have already been found or are awaiting that once in a generation spark of genius.

I think we are grasping for straws in assuming environmental factors. Other factors have been correlated with ASD and have much stronger ORs....for example parental age has a far stronger effect than does PAH...

##### Share on other sites

As with iNows misleading hippie-punching in the OP title <...> I read this in my local paper, the New York Times, and a couple of lefty environmental newsletters, days ago. Here's a hippie website with it <...> It appears to have worked its way down to you guys, which in my experience means the lefties and hippies have been reacting to it for a while. <...> sure it's a joke, but it's always the same twisted little joke.

We seem to have different definitions of the term hippie. You appear to be conflating it with people who stand fiercely behind assertions that have long been debunked or which have no backing in evidence or fact or reality (such as claims of harm from vaccines and GMOs). That is not what hippies are about IMO.

I can only imagine the deeply skewed perception of me you must have that leads you to describe me as you've done above as being interested in hippie punching. Much more likely is my desire to punch ignorance and foolishness from our culture, but that discussion is best saved for another thread or another time.

I'm off to go watch Glenn Beck and read Michelke Bachmann's latest coloring book now. Cheerio.

##### Share on other sites

Its not that PAH exonerates vaccines or GMOs....it doesn't need to because there is absolutely no correlation between vaccines or GMOs and ASD

Hence the gratuitousness of the OP title.

You appear to be conflating it with people who stand fiercely behind assertions that have long been debunked or which have no backing in evidence or fact or reality (such as claims of harm from vaccines and GMOs).
Are there people who stand fiercely behind the assertion that "GMOs" (? all of them?) cause autism spectrum disorder? That's a rare type - that degree of amnesia is not the normal countercultural problem.

Or are you just lumping in people hostile to the currently promulgated GMOs and their modes of deployment

- natural food obsessives, organic anything belovers, agribusiness cynics, big business cynics, people who learn from history, people who can follow an argument and recognize bs when its being sprayed all over their neighborhood, counterculture folks, new age mystics, people who pay an extra twenty dollars to have a crystal sewed into the crotch of their pre-faded jeans, the well educated non-technocratic -

with somebody else you think is foolish, whom you actually have evidence is wrong?

It's called hippie-punching. That's its name, that little rhetorical twist you put in the OP. If you don't want to be thought of as the type who does that, don't do it.

Edited by overtone
##### Share on other sites

I find those who continue to lash out against GMOs and who steadfastly claim they are dangerous to human health despite the dearth of evidence supporting these assertions (and despite consistent and independently replicated scientific evidence to the contrary) to be misguided, often foolish, and ideologically blind in many cases.

For similar reasons, I feel the same way about those who claim vaccines cause autism, that evolution is false, and that climate change is a hoax. I put these forward as personal opinions on broad societal issues and do not use these opinions in support of any specific claims. You are free to argue otherwise if you feel differently, but these opinions or valid arguments against them won't in any way change the facts at hand, nor will suggestions about my political stance or aggressivity against certain groups negate the truth of what I'm saying.

You'd have an ally in me if you instead suggested that we must be cautious and transparent about the control we give to corporations over our entire food supply and that we must ensure smart regulations are in place to maximize our collective safety, both short-term and long, and that we should in general embrace the prioritization of the public good over the quarterly profit. I suspect we largely agree on these types of points, but that agreement is all immediately lost the moment you began using loaded terms and an emotive argumentation style in your replies.

Said another way, suggesting GMOs are themselves dangerous to human health despite consistent evidence to the contrary, and casting personal aspersions against me or suggesting I'm some right-wing nut interested in hippie punching will come up rather short each and every time and illuminates little more than the inherent weakness of your stance, the bias/blindness in your position, and your desire to push specific narratives using emotive barbs and cheap debate tactics regardless of the actual facts.

You are welcome to your opinion and you are welcome to dislike my thread title, but you are not welcome to assume that either of those two things alone are legitimate foundations for any challenge against my claims.

Thus far, all you've done is suggest my thread title is gratuitous and that I'm interested in hippie-punching as opposed to sharing an interesting news article regarding the potential association between air pollution and autism incidence, which is what I was actually doing. I've interacted with you enough times on GMOs before to know this post will only fall on deaf ears, but maybe this time will be different? I guess that's up to you.

##### Share on other sites

Hence the gratuitousness of the OP title.

Are there people who stand fiercely behind the assertion that "GMOs" (? all of them?) cause autism spectrum disorder? That's a rare type - that degree of amnesia is not the normal countercultural problem.

Or are you just lumping in people hostile to the currently promulgated GMOs and their modes of deployment

- natural food obsessives, organic anything belovers, agribusiness cynics, big business cynics, people who learn from history, people who can follow an argument and recognize bs when its being sprayed all over their neighborhood, counterculture folks, new age mystics, people who pay an extra twenty dollars to have a crystal sewed into the crotch of their pre-faded jeans, the well educated non-technocratic -

with somebody else you think is foolish, whom you actually have evidence is wrong?

It's called hippie-punching. That's its name, that little rhetorical twist you put in the OP. If you don't want to be thought of as the type who does that, don't do it.

The number of people who believe that GMOs or vaccines cause autism is surprisingly large and extremely vocal. The joke is very timely.

The rest of this is so far off-topic that its not worth addressing.

##### Share on other sites

No more discussion about GMO's please guys - I understand the strength of feeling but this thread is on PM2.5 and its role in raising the incident of ASD. Thanks

##### Share on other sites

I'd like to see if autism rates are higher in more urban populations or areas where pollution and particulate matter are high. Would seem to follow the outcome of this study and offer another useful data point in support.

##### Share on other sites

This would be something to follow up in my neighborhood, where pockets of high autism rates have been found in a couple of immigrant populations (esp Somalis) without the previously known risk correlations - but with unusual exposures of pregnant women to smoke from open fire cooking, diesel exhaust, etc, in their places of origin.

Bit of background: A few years ago the local Big City undertook to get rid of a lot of its garbage by burning it, in a large incinerator located near the poor neighborhood next to the urban center, and close to the Mississippi River. And the usual collection of counterculture types tried to prevent it, with the usual mixture of individual scientific expertise and individual ignorance selected from for amplification by the usual corporate allied and government associated media (guess who got the lead quotes).

And one of the major arguments from the scientifically more adept among this crowd of protestors was that the combustion products added to the air from this incinerator

- that was my introduction to the acronym PAH, although I had been casually following the aftermath of the tetraethyl lead debacle and done some reading on smog and the coal smoke disasters of the past centuries, so the compounds themselves were somewhat familiar -

would be enormously varied, biologically active by presumption, and not well studied in their effects on human health.

That is, there were some obvious and serious risks being run by operating an incinerator like that in an urban center.

And that was my third or fourth experience with a phenomenon I am still looking to name, "techno blinkered" being inadequate: the inability of the pioneering and technologically adept in a new venture to recognize risk, or comprehend even very simple arguments establishing the existence of even very serious hazards embedded in the obvious scope of their ignorance.

And the condescension with which these ignorant, effectively imbecile, experts treated the people who were raising perfectly sound and in many cases quite solidly reasoned objections to that burner chapped my ass, so to speak. For example: Demanding that people who are arguing obvious and serious risk to present solid evidence of harm, when the problem - the source of the risk - is the failure of the responsible and benefitting parties to perform the due diligence by which such solid evidence would be obtained, is not only very, very, stupid from a logical argument pov - it's punching down, politically. It's lashing out at people one should be supporting and acting in service of. It's dismissing with contempt matters that are central responsibilities of the technologically adept. It's a betrayal. There's no damn excuse for it.

And now, too late, there may be some research into the PAHs emitted by that burner and its effects on the many thousands of pregnant women and young children borne and raised in its fallout zone over the years. And if it comes up feces, which is quite possible in this or a dozen other ways, we'll be filing it in the same folder with tetraethyl lead, asbestos, DDT, the mercury waste in the Japanese bays, the trans fats in the entire American diet for thirty years, half the food coloring on the shelves in 1975, the locations and trouble-shooting of nuclear power plants, the artificial sweeteners declared safe by "scientific consensus" that nobody had ever checked for their effects on sugar metabolism for pity's sake, and so forth.

The file's name is: "right again, weren't they".

Yeah, maybe it's the PAHs and not the vaccines or the GMOs. And maybe it's all three - it's not like anyone's nailed anything down, here. And maybe the mercury should never have been put in the children's vaccines, PAHs should have been checked 25 years ago, and the GMOs should be getting checked out now: before the little kids have all been injected with unexpectedly heavy doses of mercury compounds, the garbage burners are built and the money sunk, and 90% of the agricultural landscape has been converted for agribusiness profit.

Edited by overtone

## Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

## Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account