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Autism Research Sees Explosive Growth


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As autism prevalence rates skyrocketed over the last three decades, so too did the volume of research into the developmental disorder, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis.

There was a 12-fold increase in the number of scientific journal articles focused on autism in the last 30 years, according to a report released late last week by the global information firm Thomson Reuters.

The analysis is based on a review of journal articles indexed in the Thomson Reuters ScienceWire Publication Catalog between 1980 and 2010. It was produced in collaboration with the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory panel charged with identifying autism research priorities.

Most autism research conducted over the three decades focused on the biology of autism, risk factors for the disorder as well as treatments and interventions, the analysis found. There was a lesser emphasis on infrastructure and surveillance, studying lifespan issues and services research, though all areas saw an uptick in interest from scientists.

While the biological basis of autism was the most popular focus for researchers throughout the time period studied, a dramatic spike in such studies was seen beginning in 2005. That’s the same year that Autism Speaks — the most commonly cited private backer of autism research — was founded.

Most research is happening in the United States, though the field is becoming increasingly global with studies coming from authors in over 50 countries, the review indicated.

However, those behind the analysis were able to draw fewer conclusions about who’s controlling the purse strings when it comes to autism research. That’s because only one third of autism studies included information about their funding sources. Nonetheless, from the data available it appears that most research is benefiting from a mix of public and private dollars.

“Publication volume, impact and thematic trends suggest that autism is a young but rapidly growing and evolving research field,” the report found.

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Comments (7 Responses)

  1. Anne McElroy Dachel says:

    What’s really missing are honest, independent studies on the link between vaccines and autism.

    Countless thousands of parents report that their child was born healthy and was developing normally until they received certain routine vaccinations. Suddenly they lost learned skills, many stopped talking, ending up with an autism diagnosis. Doctors can’t explain this. They call it a coincidence. They say there’s no link between vaccines and autism and they have a dozen studies to prove it–studies that are tied to the vaccine industry.

    It’s time to talk about all the independent studies by well-credentialed experts that raise serious concerns about the safety of vaccinations.

    Also see the National Vaccine Information Center,

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  2. Anne McElroy Dachel says:

    The short trailer to the movie The Greater Good on their website makes it clear that there are experts on both sides and a lot of serious questions that need to be asked. The medical community and health officials promote vaccines as the greatest achievement in modern medicine yet there is growing fear over vaccine side effects.

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  3. Anne McElroy Dachel says:

    HDNet TV exposed the fact that while health officials continue to tell us studies show no link, the federal government has paid out millions of dollars for compensation for vaccine injuries that included autism. Seeing these children who were born healthy and were suddenly and dramatically affected by their vaccinations should give us all pause.

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  4. vmgillen says:

    Follow the money, honey… I am seeing a lot of real trash-research being proposed because “autism” is a hot topic… results are then ballyhoo’ed far and wide because the title includes the word “autism” – and people actually seeks treatment because they heard about… a study done with four subjects over the period oh one semester. Feh.

  5. autismUXB says:

    Completely agree with Anne Dachel – as an infant, our son had a severe reaction to a vacinne with screaming, finally passing out and obvious regression when he woke up. Many other families have reported the same experience. Dispite this, the medical establishment wants us to lie to ourselves and believe this was just a coincidence. In all truth, I don’t think they want to find the cause.

  6. Michael Reeves says:

    And funnily enough only 38% of the grant funding is sourced. Likely because the organisations want to hide their bid for eugenics under the mirage of helping disabled children.

    An autistic is not an autistic is not an autistic. Nobody ever asks for our damn opinion.

  7. Bob_in_NYC says:

    I was kind of surprised by the comments to this article. I thought that it was pretty clear that the science demonstrated that there was no correlation found between autism and vaccines (and thimerosal). Are vaccines 100% safe? No, but neither is aspirin. But they don’t cause autism any more that aspirin does.

    We need to move beyond the hype and focus on reality. The one area of focus that is missing in autism research is how to ameliorate some of the deficits that are found in the adult population so that more of us with autism can better lead productive lives … which by the way would decrease the overall expense to society.

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