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Monday, September 19, 2005

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Devotes Little Time to Autism Epidemic at October Convention Says National Autism Association

Why is the national convention of one of the most important medical organizations for children giving minimal focus to the largest developmental disorder in America?

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- If you look at the AAP's schedule for their national convention in Washington DC, you have to look hard for any time set aside for the biomedical aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism now affects 1 in 166 children, making it a national epidemic that is growing beyond financial control. In fact, this unexpected rise has created problems throughout the country, making it impossible for every child with autism to get the services they need.

Recent studies show that the rise in autism is real, and not due to expanded diagnostic criteria. Because there cannot be a genetic epidemic, many experts believe environmental factors play a role. The AAP's convention fails to mention specific topics that will address the rise in autism, possible environmental factors or treatments, and how the AAP plans to handle this national emergency.

Autism has been a long-time thorn in the side of the AAP. Parents and advocates who believe children regressed after receiving vaccines containing thimerosal, a neurotoxic mercury-based preservative, have often been brushed aside by the organization, and their failure to seriously address the autism explosion and novel autism treatments could very well mean that the children are paying the price for an unpopular theory.

The AAP has also issued official letters against legislation that would ban thimerosal from medical products. In a letter to New York state legislators, the AAP states, "Passing such legislation sends the wrong message to New York parents and pregnant women, and in fact all New Yorkers."

Yet, the AAP's policy on mercury exposure states, "Mercury in all of its forms is toxic to the fetus and children, and efforts should be made to reduce exposure to the extent possible to pregnant women and children as well as the general population."

"How can the AAP in a 1999 joint statement encourage the removal of mercury from medical products, and now say that it should not be banned?" asks Laura Bono of NAA. "Not only are many parents feeling neglected by the AAP, we feel their protection of mercury in vaccines further supports our theory that mercury is the primary cause of the rise in autism. After all, autism and mercury poisoning share identical symptoms. It doesn't get more logical than that," says Bono.

Some parents suspect that the full removal of mercury would create a significant drop in rates. "It's heartbreaking that the AAP is not dedicating more time to the medical needs of our children during their convention, and equally saddening that they support the use of a poisonous substance," says parent Rita Shreffler. "This also sends the wrong message. It says, 'We don't want to see if the autism rates go down.'"

Parents plan to picket outside of the AAP convention. To see the AAP's itinerary, click HERE.

For more information on autism, visit www.nationalautism.org.

Jo Pike, NAA (Marion, SC) 843-206-8449
Rita Shreffler, NAA (Nixa, MO) 417-725-6107
Wendy Fournier, NAA (Portsmouth, RI) 401-632-7523

Posted by Becca

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