top of page

(Canada) JAMA: New study calls autism a 'pretend epidemic'; no real increase

Aug 22, 2019, 'FAKE EPIDEMIC': Study suggests autism 'epidemic' linked to expansion, loosening of definition Anti-vaxer’s have espoused for many years the autism ‘epidemic’ is a consequence of vaccines. However, a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry suggests the “pretend epidemic” of autism is tied to broader diagnostic criteria and a loosening of the way the criteria are applied, narrowing the gap between those diagnosed with autism and the rest of the population, National Post reports. Co-author of the study, Dr. Laurent Mottron, a professor in the Universite de Montreal’s department of psychiatry said: “The pretend epidemic of autism is related to the inclusion of people less and less different from non-autistics.” The study reviewed 11 analyses of studies from 1966 to 2019 and included nearly 23,000 people diagnosed with autism. The authors of the study were interested in reviewing how the “effect size” — a measure of the difference between people diagnosed with autism and those without it — changed over the course of that time period…. The worry for Mottron is the definition of autism is being trivialized and has become too “blurry to be meaningful.” … Some experts contend the catalyst that triggered the rise occurred in 1994 when the American Psychiatric Association released the fourth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which outlines everything physicians use when diagnosing any form of mental illness. Genetics play bigger role in autism risk than environmental factors, study finds • 1 in 66 Canadian children have autism spectrum disorder: report Dr. Allen Frances, emeritus professor of psychiatry at Duke University, said the biggest mistake in the fourth edition “was including Asperger’s, a much milder form of autistic disorder with unclear boundaries to normal diversity, eccentricity and giftedness,” in the diagnosis of autism. “Careless diagnosis, often related to requirements for extra school services, resulted in a fake epidemic — a 50-fold increase in the past 25 years,” Frances said. Things have only been made worse as the fifth edition of the DSM created a “spectrum” that collapsed classic autism with Asperger’s syndrome, making misdiagnosis even more likely he said. Many parents wrongly concluded the rise was due to vaccines, “not realizing it was instead a consequence of looser definitions and assessments,” Frances said, adding, “This has led to measles epidemics all over the world,” also adding that autism is not better recognized. Rather, individuals are being diagnosed with autism that have less profound deviations from normal, he said.
bottom of page