Autism on the Rise

Golisano Pediatrician Explains New Rate to Country

Susan Hyman, M.D.Just before World Autism Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released startling new rates for autism in the United States – 1 in 88 children, 1 in 54 boys and a marked increase among Hispanic and African American children. The CDC invited Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Susan Hyman, M.D., to Atlanta for the announcement to help explain the increase and what communities need to do to help these children and families.

Hyman said there are many reasons for the increase. Pediatricians have been very actively screening for autism at younger ages and on an ongoing basis. Plus, families and educators are much more aware of autism and have made a more accurate diagnosis possible.

“There’s also the very real possibility that there is an increased prevalence of autism. We know there is a genetic predisposition to autism. We also know now, through increasing research in the area, that there are environmental factors,” Hyman said.

She added that although more research needs to be done to determine what those environmental factors are, none of the studies show an association with vaccines. She said the increase in identification among minority children shows that pediatricians and educators are doing a better job of providing services to that traditionally underserved population.

Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center is actively involved in treating and diagnosing the community’s children with autism, and in researching the most effective ways to screen and treat children with autism. The hospital is also a national leader in researching the diet and nutrition of children with autism, which is often a big concern for parents.

“Parents will tell you that their child will only eat crunchy food or will only eat white food, and they’re right,” Hyman said. “With typical toddlers, a family may say their child won’t eat any vegetables, but that’s not really the case. Once a week, broccoli will make it into their mouths. But for families with children with autism, if they say their child only eats green food – their child really only eats green food.”

Because of that, Hyman said, nutrition studies are incredibly important to ensuring children with autism get everything they need in their diet. This is especially true because toddlers outgrow their food aversions, but children with autism grow to be adults with autism, carrying those potential nutritional issues with them throughout a lifetime.

Despite recent progress in research like the nutrition studies Hyman and her team are performing and successes in diagnosing children younger and getting them more effective treatment earlier, Hyman said research into autism and its causes is far from over.

 “No matter how much we’ve done, there’s more to do.”

To learn more about how you can help, visit http://bit.ly/GCHautism or call Marc Misiurewicz at (585) 276-3595.

Multimedia in this Issue:

Pediatrician-in-Chief Shows off New Golisano Children's Hospital Plans

Nina Schor video

Eating Disorders: Parents are Part of the Solution

Kreipe video