The Mother of All FDA Fails
The FDA has never required drug safety assessment for fetal germline impact, even though FDA staff understand that gestational exposures can adversely affect developing germ cells. We must end this catastrophic omission, while also granting all Americans access to their own prenatal medical records.
The Federal Response to the Autism Epidemic: Unforgivable Shoulder Shrugging and Denial
by Jill Escher
Today we are faced with one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of humanity -- the soaring rates of devastating, disabling neurodevelopmental abnormalities among our children. Children who will often need lifelong care, who will not work, pay taxes, be able to help defend our country, or bear children. We call the spectrum of abnormalities "autism," a condition that, under any label, barely existed even several decades ago.
While our schools overflow with jumping, flapping, darting, cognitively impaired, nonverbal kids in rapidly proliferating special needs classrooms, while our already-stressed developmental services agencies get flooded daily with new clients needing therapy, programs, housing, and intensive lifelong care, while states report 10 and 20-fold increases in autism rates, while the CDC itself admits the numbers are 1 in 88, or maybe even 1 in 50, and while the costs to society are predicted to run into the hundreds of billions of dollars per year, what is the federal response?
"What autism epidemic?"
In what must be one of the most shameful chapters in public health history, or perhaps in history, period, our government officials seem to have made the decision to stick their collective heads in the sand about the scope and devastation of this horrible epidemic.
Baffled by the reports of skyrocketing numbers, and unable to make sense of it based on the science with which they are familiar, they say again and again that the rates must be due to better detection and awareness. They say, as was a theme at the last IACC meeting, that rates can't be increasing because, as we all know, autism is "genetic."
If you don't understand something (and our federal staffers are clearly insufficiently schooled about environmental epigenetics), the easiest route is denial it exists. Where is a federal champion expressing urgency about this catastrophe? Are they all too spineless and gutless to speak the obvious for fear of some sort of reprimand or scar on their reputations? I, for one, cannot comprehend the silence and shoulder shrugging from our officials, who must be smart enough to know better. Well, one would hope.
I possess a bit of discretion and will therefore not repeat publicly some of the discussions I have had with various federal staffers about finding the causes of the autism epidemic. Suffice it to say that what they tell me in private differs markedly from the "we just don't know" meme they repeat endlessly in public.
Where, oh where, is the urgency? If the brains of 1 or 2 of every 100 kids in America was sprayed with bullets, or if a million kids came down with mental retardation-causing brain disease, we would respond with the utmost astonishment, horror and vigor. But that is pretty much exactly what's happening, and the response is so timid as to almost not exist. Shame on them. Shame on our country. Shame.