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Cristopher Caez Leslie Wolcott ENC 1102-0038 March 24, 2014 Autism: A Misunderstood Condition Autism spectrum disorder

(ASD) and autism are general terms for various disorder that affect the brains development. These disorders are characterized by difficulty in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors in varying degrees of severity. 1 out of 88 children are identified as having some sort of ASD (CDC) and signs of ASD appear between years 2 and 3 of development. The cause of ASD is largely unknown but is more due to the presence of genetic and environmental factors that influence early brain development and lead to the symptoms associated with ASD. In 1998 a study was conducted that claimed to find a link between the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine and a new form of autism. The study was conducted with 12 children and the MMR vaccine was administered the to all of them followed by various tests to determine if there were any changes after the study was administered (Wakefield et al.). Endoscopies showed a strange form of inflammation in 9 of the 12 childrens intestines, a biopsy was taken and was determined that the inflammation was directly linked to a new form of autism termed autistic enterocolitis (W akefield et al.). The inflammation was promptly followed by other autism symptoms such as regression in speech, bowel symptoms such as diarrhea, and other forms of developmental regression.

The majority of researchers however do no agree with Wakefields findings, especially considering that children with ASD already show signs of gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, inflammation, incontinence etc.) even before a diagnosis. The first study looked at autistic children and compared them to normal children when looking at their gastrointestinal systems. The study found that many autistic children have a very sensitive intestine lining and as a result, autistic children show more signs of gastrointestinal problems than children with normal development (DEufemia et al.). Statistics show that autism rates and gastrointestinal problems do not rise when the MMR vaccine is administered in children, this result came from comparing children who received the vaccine against children who did not receive the MMR vaccine. (Fombonne & Cook). Autistic children have been known to show a variety of gastrointestinal problems such as inflammation of the esophagus, small intestine, and large intestine, the large majority (66.7%) showing inflammation in the lower large intestine near the anus (Galiatsatos et al.). All these studies confirmed that 70% of autistic children already show signs of gastrointestinal problems (ValicentiMcDermott et al) and therefore Wakefields argument that the inflammation was an indicator of a new form of autism is incorrect since children with autism, even undiagnosed, show signs of gastrointestinal issues. For the reasons stated above and many others, various researches do not believe in Wakefields conclusions, proving them false with their own rese arch as well. Since Wakefields original research, MMR vaccine acceptance rate has fallen from 92% to 86.5% (Bedford & Elliiman) even though the research was

clearly conducted in a poor manner and biased. The rate of children diagnosed with ASD did not change despite the MMR vaccine, the same percentage of children were diagnosed with ASD whether they had received the MMR vaccine or not (Fombonne & Chakrabarti). Wakefields study was also extremely flawed, the small sample size, improper methods, and bad controls led for skewed research that pointed in a false direction (MacDonald et al.), this largely unknown to the common population. Many children diagnosed with ASD show some sign(s) of bowel problems, which may seem like they are linked to the childs regression when in fact, its just the child not knowing how to communicated their discomfort (Taylor et al.). Therefore, Wakefields study has been proven to be wrong many times through other researchers studies and analyses of Wakefields original study. As mentioned before, there are flaws in Wakefields research such as the small sample size and improper controls, but the biggest flaw in the research process was the lack of proper review. Since the beginning the pathologists at the hospital Wakefield was conducting his research at were not convinced with Wakefields findings, since he himself was not a histopathologist, but none had a chance to review the findings before the paper was published (Deer). The largest misconception with the autism MMR vaccine topic is that there are articles supporting Wakefields research, 9 of them to be exact, seven of which were written by Wakefield (MacDonald et al.). Of course you would support your own research anyway you could if you feel others should believe it whole heartedly.