from the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s annual autism conference
That’s a line from an Indigo Girls’ songs. While I think their questions were probably aimed at Life, the Universe, and Everything, they could just as easily have been talking about autism. I’ve covered this meeting twice now and both times I’ve been struck by how many possible autism factors are under investigation. There seems to be evidence of a role for genetics, brain abnormalities, and autoimmunity as causes of autism. Today I listened to research on epilepsy and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and GI symptoms and ASD. This wide range of research made clear to me what a tragic mistake it would be to pin all of our hopes for identifying the cause of autism on just one factor.
The evidence is clear that vaccines do not cause autism but even if there were evidence–and I repeat, there is none–it would be exceptionally harmful to those with autism and their loved ones to limit research to just vaccines. If the true object is to identify the causes of autism in order to develop effective treatments, the most productive strategy is to look at as many possible factors. Everyone affected by or working with those affected by autism should be relieved to know that a great deal of this research is getting done–albeit out of the limelight.
—Kerri Wachter, @knwachter on Twitter