I was frustrated with the EPA’s and NIEHS’s response as I am sure many others were, in particular the Somali immigrants. Apparently The Health Department who studied the “Minneapolis public school autism programs for the three years starting with the 2005 school year… found the percentage of Somali children in the programs was two to seven times higher than non-Somali children” (Williams, C., 2009). This 2009 Minnesota Department of Health study seems to duplicate the 2013 CDC study. Both studies state “This study did not attempt to identify possible causes or risk factors for ASD" (MDH, 2009). So now almost four years later the U.S. government has validated that claim. They still refuse to look at the different environmental exposures (vaccines) that could be creating this trend in these children.
Through my research I discovered that the parents and some professionals have been questioning vaccines as the being causal in this autism population from the very beginning. Due to the living conditions and the circumstances or cause of the immigration many individuals had poor records of their vaccination status. Many of the Somali children had double the dose of injections simply because of illegitimate records. This trend and the association is discussed by a Minneapolis local news affiliate in 2008, who in a rare occurrence interviews the affected parents (Mcsimple, A., 2008). As with many immigrants they are also expected to have vaccines that are not even recommended for U.S. children such as the oral polio vaccine, and Pentavalent vaccine, which contains 5 vaccines in one injection (CDC, 2013). Both of these vaccines are associated with higher rates of adverse events. Dr. Yazbak did one of the best write-ups I have read about the connection between these immigrants and vaccines, if you wish to further your own research (Yazbak, E., 2011).
The recent study titled “Minneapolis Somali Autism Spectrum Disorder Prevalence Project” was funded by the CDC, NIH, and Autism Speaks and took 2 years to complete. This study found that Somali children (1:32) had similar rates of autism as white children (1:38). But this population had nearly double+ the autism rates of Black (1:62) and Hispanic (1:80) children (Henneberry, S., 2013). One also must keep in mind that the current 2013 rate of autism being 1:50 is from a different time period when this data was collected. The CDC’s 1:88 national autism numbers are relevant to the time-frame of this study. Another finding of this current autism prevalence study was the variability of severity of the disorder among the white and Somali children. A greater degree in severity in autism was found in the children from Somalia. It was more likely to find the diagnosis of “high-functioning” in white children (McNeil, D., 2013).
I think that it is an incredible waste of taxpayer resource to duplicate known findings, and I also conclude that it is equally disgusting that the CDC has dragged their feet when it comes to epidemic of autism! I deduce that something similar is happening between the white and Somali populations in Minneapolis, but because the severity of the autism is more prevalent in the Somali children the environmental exposure (vaccines) are more dominant in that group. There is a disparity between health care coverage between white and ethnic groups in the U.S. In one study ethnic groups were scientifically less likely to have access to health care (Blanton, M., Hoffman, C., 2005). Lack of coverage translates to lack of vaccine uptake rates among those populations (lucky them). A Wisconsin surveillance study of autism also finds that whites are more likely to be diagnosed with autism over black and Hispanic children so this is a recurring trend (ADDM, 2012). So we have similar national findings of health care coverage and autism prevalence rates showing white are predominately affected. Now you will hear the argument that ethnic groups are simply not being diagnosed BUT that argument falls apart when you look at who and how the prevalence is being picked up and the age being studied. The school systems are collecting this data with the correlation of State Health Department pulls from special education resource centers, which is provided free of charge to all populations. So this “signal” is real! White, and immigrant children are ultimately being vaccinated at higher rates than U.S. born ethnic children based on access to health care. The immigrant populations are often times getting double the dose of vaccines because of their previously described entrance into the U.S., which can account for their greater severity in diagnosis. It does not take a rocket scientist to critically analyze these facts. So I ask what is the CDC's response, and what are their plans in finding the environmental cause? Where is the urgency!
ADDM. (2012). Wisconsin surveillance of autism and other developmental disabilities system (WISADDS). Retrieved from http://www.waisman.wisc.edu/wisadds/
CDC. (2013). Current Presumptive Immunization Schedules. Immigrant and Refugee Health. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/guidelines/overseas/interventions/presumptive-immunizations.html
Blanton, M., Hoffman, C. (2005). The role of health insurance coverage in reducing racial/ethnic disparities in health care. Health Affairs. Retrieved from http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/24/2/398.full
Henneberry, S. (2013). University of Minnesota estimates autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Somali and non-Somali children in Minneapolis. Press Release http://rtc.umn.edu/autism/doc/Somali_Autism_study_press_release.pdf
MDH. (2009). Autism spectrum disorders among preschool children participating in the Minneapolis public schools early childhood special education programs. Retrieved from http://search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0SO80L5dbBS3kEACCpXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEzcWNnbXF2BHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMgRjb2xvA2dxMQR2dGlkA1ZJUDM1OF8x/SIG=145kss4h1/EXP=1387325049/**http%3a//dx.confex.com/dx/10/webprogram/Handout/Paper3139/report090331_ASD%2520among%2520preschool%2520children.pdf
McNeil, D. (2013). Study links autism and Somalis in Minneapolis. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/17/health/study-links-autism-and-somalis-in-minneapolis.html?smid=fb-share
Mcsimple, A. (2008). Why is autism rate so high for Somalis in Minn.? YouTube. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUf4L6UQhbk
Senate Committee Environment and Public Works. (2010). Autism and environmental health research. C-Span. Retrieved from http://www.c-spanvideo.org/organization/101995
Williams, C. (2009). Autism rate higher for Somali kids in Minneapolis. Fox News. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_wires/2009Apr01/0,4675,SomalisAutism,00.html
Yazbak, F. (2011). Autism, vaccination and immigrants-yet another clear correlation by F. Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP. Vaccination News. Retrieved from http://www.vaccinationnews.com/20110121AutismVaccinationImmigrantsYazbakFE#sdendnote12sym