CRISIS: 1 in 22 NJ Boys Now Have Autism
An amazing friend of mine, advocate Louise Kuo Habakus, is fighting to find answers to the autism catastrophe. Here are excerpts of an open letter she has written to the governor. It is well worth reading every word and sharing with everyone you know.
Dear Governor Murphy,
There is a vitally urgent matter that I urge you to prioritize now. It is a ticking time bomb. Over 100,000 New Jersey families' lives have already been shattered.
I’m talking about the public health crisis called autism.
1 IN 22 BOYS IN NJ HAS AUTISM AND NJ LEADS THIS NATIONWIDE HEALTH CRISIS.
In April the CDC announced its new autism prevalence numbers. There is a significant increase, up 20% in two years.
One in 22 New Jersey boys has autism, Phil. That number is the highest in the nation.
If something was sneaking into 1 out of every 22 New Jersey homes and stealing our boys, wouldn’t we be in the streets with panic and outrage, demanding answers and doing whatever we could to put an end to it?
Everyone has watched these rates climb, year after year for decades now; a train wreck imploding before our eyes.
New Jersey leads the autism epidemic.
To make matters worse, this new data is, in fact, 'old' data. The CDC analysis is based on children who were born in 2006 and aged 8 years in 2014.
What about our New Jersey babies born this year????
WE WON'T KNOW ABOUT THE AUTISM INCIDENCE AFFECTING TODAY'S NEWBORNS UNTIL 2030!
Under the CDC’s current autism monitoring practices, data collection for children born in 2018 will occur in 2026, when they are 8 years old. It will take the CDC four years to compile and analyze the data; write and revise the report; submit it for review; and then finally schedule it for release.
So, the CDC’s April 2018 report is actually from 2014. There is such a lag in the data that we aren't even up to date on the current reality of the horrific autism problem.
It means that this very bad news is almost certainly a lot worse and any sense of urgency we muster is likely to be grievously too little too late.
Yet the CDC did not push this big story into the spotlight. Not one CDC official appeared on mainstream media to tell Americans the bad news.
Listen to New Jersey’s own Walter M. Zahorodny, PhD. Dr. Zahorodny is in charge of New Jersey’s autism analysis for the CDC. He is Director of the New Jersey Autism Study. He has been involved with the CDC’s Autism study since the very beginning. Dr. Zahorodny is also Associate Professor, Pediatrics Department, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
He says everyone should be paying close attention to New Jersey’s autism numbers.
He wants us all to understand that New Jersey’s sky high autism numbers are deeply concerning and must not be downplayed. The crisis is genuine. It is imperative that we stop giving ourselves permission to look away.
Key messages from Dr. Zahorodny include:
#1: It Can’t be explained away by “better autism awareness.” When we look at the average age at first autism diagnosis across the US, the age at diagnosis has remained stable at about 4 years, 5 months old throughout the entire study. But if autism prevalence was being impacted by overall greater awareness, we would expect the age at diagnosis to decrease over the same time period. It hasn’t.
#2: It Can’t be explained away by “changed diagnostic criteria.” Dr. Zahorodny is also dismayed because the media persist in reporting that rising autism prevalence is due to a changed definition of autism (and greater awareness). This isn’t true. The overall research has only ever used one definition of autism. Dr. Zahorodny also asserts, point blank, that there has been no change in research methodology for NJ, so that argument can't be used to explain away these numbers. Our state has maintained consistency in the definition of the geographic regions studied. If anything, all state autism rates are likely UNDERestimated, since our ability to capture all individuals with autism is uneven and imperfect. That means even the 1 in 22 number may be underestimated!
#3: If you think the numbers are being driven by large numbers of quirky but high functioning children, think again. Dr. Zahorodny says the increase in autism prevalence is due in large part to children with SEVERE levels of impairment. So while we are getting better at identifying and diagnosing children who are less severely affected, this isn’t what’s driving the higher numbers. Autism is increasing across the board and across all sub-types. The prevalence numbers are driven by those who are most seriously impacted. It is a false and dangerous assumption that the increase is being propelled by larger numbers of mildly idiosyncratic but societally functional individuals.
#4: Media silence is concerning. Dr. Zahorodny says the mainstream media’s failure to cover the latest autism prevalence numbers is very hard to justify or explain, since over the past 14 years we’ve been reporting about skyrocketing autism rates. The continually increasing and unacceptably high rates are, unto themselves, major news. As is the fact that we still don’t know why.
#5: Why hasn’t the CDC said anything? Dr. Zahorodny surmises the CDC must be concerned that these high autism rates would provoke unease, anxiety, and panic, even. “If the CDC had an explanation, I think they would be more forthcoming in declaring the new findings.” Neither the mainstream media nor the CDC nor anyone from any state program or office approached Dr. Zahorodny requesting an interview or asking any questions about his analysis. Dr. Zahorodny shared the following with me:
I thought there would be contact from the Governor’s Office or from some politicians interested in proposing autism-specific legislation in light of the findings, but there was not. I thought there would be questions about what could or should happen next or to ‘predict’ future autism rates, but there were not… Also no contact or questions from the Governor’s Council for Autism.
Phil, please contact Dr. Zahorodny.
#6: There won't be progress until we admit the true scope of the problem. Dr. Zahorodny’s observations are on point and chilling:
- If we can’t acknowledge the magnitude of the problem, if we won’t call it a crisis and commit resources to addressing it, how could we hope to make progress?
- How will we be able to plan for the future in our schools and communities and provide the right services to affected children and their families?
- How will we fund the right research that might lead to answers for why this is occurring?
- Every 8 year-old with autism will become an adolescent and subsequently an adult with autism. It makes a lot of sense to be ready for that.
- In Dr. Zahorodny’s opinion, the school systems are very frank and clear about the surge in autism. They’ve had to deal with it firsthand. And the practicing clinicians also know there’s a true increase.
He earnestly states: “Let’s hope that everyone gets the message.”
WHAT DOES DR. ZAHORODNY BELIEVE MUST HAPPEN NEXT?
Dr. Zahorodny says there are three steps that must be taken.
#1: Enact universal autism screening at 18, 24, and 30 months. Today’s babies are almost surely born into a world with much more autism than we are able to grasp with today’s mindset and data.
#2: Increase research into environmental risk factors for autism. What’s causing all this autism? We are talking about a dire and often catastrophic disorder that is profoundly debilitating, medically injurious, socially isolating, and financially devastating for families. It costs about $2.4 million per person over an individual’s lifetime. And that number is rising.
The real question should be, why don’t we care?
Funding levels for other diseases and conditions show that we aren’t yet serious about solving the autism crisis.
A mere $245 million is being spent on autism research. A very small amount was spent on environmental epidemiology (excluding vaccines.)
In stark contrast to the $245 million committed for autism, here's what's allocated to other research:
- $296 million to dietary supplements
- $515 million to urological diseases
- $4.9 billion to vaccines (TB, Malaria, HPV, AIDS, other) and immunization
- $6 billion to cancer
- $8.3 billion to infectious diseases (of which at least an additional $850+ million is specifically vaccine related)
- $8.5 billion to genetics
It is clear that an earnest inquiry into autism causation is not our priority. Instead, research funding is aligned with projects that have strong commercial (pharmaceutical) applications. It also reflects fear of infectious diseases, with a massive prioritization on vaccine development. But not on safety studies for these vaccines.
#3: Dr. Zahorodny urges us to allow an exclusion in the federal education laws so that researchers can look at education records (just as there’s an exclusion for public health surveillance in the health domain with HIPAA.)
GOVERNOR MURPHY, NJ'S INCREASED AUTISM FUNDING IS NOT ENOUGH.
Phil, thank you for increasing funding for autism services in your proposed 2019 New Jersey state budget announced on March 13. You allocated a $8.9 million for youth and $19.8 million for adults.
If you had had benefit of the “new” CDC prevalence numbers released in April, would you have given more? It’s a hard question, I know. Where will the money come from? Don’t get me started on our property taxes.
I will say what everyone already knows. It’s not enough. It has never been enough. And worst of all, we aren’t keeping up.
Autism is a dire and often catastrophic disorder that is profoundly debilitating, medically injurious, socially isolating, and financially devastating for families.
Autism is also a financial impossibility for our society. There isn’t enough institutional infrastructure to educate the growing numbers of children with autism and house the adults they are becoming. Young adults with autism are increasingly sent to nursing homes because there’s nowhere else to go.
Over 3.5 million Americans have autism. It costs about $2.4 million per person over an individual’s lifetime. And that number is rising.
NEW JERSEY'S SHARE IS $240 BILLION.
If New Jersey waits for the feds to figure this out, we’re going to be waiting a very long time. It will take us under first. There can be no more waiting.
ADMIT WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
The time is now.
The media and public health silence about autism is something that you, Phil, must take the initiative to highlight. It’s a New Jersey issue. The first step to real progress is admitting we have a huge problem. You’ve been a corporate, community, and political leader for decades. I’m not telling you anything you do not know. No one likes to bring attention to problems that do not appear to have solutions. But this is what leaders do.
If you did, I am certain that you would be flooded with an overwhelmingly grateful parent constituency whose hearts and political support would fly to you with astonishing speed. A crisis can be an opportunity. But the failure to act on an inherited catastrophe can be unforgivable.
We’re talking about our children. There’s an epic amount of suffering. This issue is life and death and survival for families.
It’s all you, Phil. New Jersey is Ground Zero.
Our country needs to face its autism problem and it needs to happen in New Jersey. The nation will watch us closely.
We have the highest concentration of autism.
We have the highest concentration of US and worldwide pharmaceutical company headquarters, more than anywhere else in the world.
There is a shocking void of political leadership on this most intimate and shameful of public health crises.
As a devoted father of four and chief executive of the land that is Ground Zero for the autism epidemic, the parents of New Jersey implore you to take a stand.
NOW LET'S ADDRESS THE 800 LB GORILLA IN THE ROOM: OUR 'VACCINE PROBLEM.'
Our government says there is no vaccine-autism link. But our government also has no idea what is causing autism. It devotes no meaningful resources to vaccine causation research. It ignores the eerily similar experiences of hundreds of thousands of parents whose children were never the same (and then diagnosed with autism) following childhood vaccines. It recommends 70+ doses of 16 vaccines, a 3-fold increase in 25 years and a 5-fold increase since you and I were born, Phil.
Our government funds state health departments that mandate vaccines for day care and school. It granted extraordinary liability protection to vaccine makers in 1986 paving the way for:
- the exponential increase in required childhood vaccines
- a $17 billion US vaccine market with double digit growth
- all this during the same time that autism catapulted from a rare disorder to 1 in 22 New Jersey boys, a trend also marked by double digit growth rates.
Our government paid nearly $4 billion to over 6,000 catastrophically injured and deceased individuals via the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, revealing the government’s explicit admission THAT VACCINES DO FATEFULLY INJURE AND CAUSE DEATH.
Mandatory vaccination discriminates against our most vulnerable families without access to support and information about exemptions, and without resources to homeschool or move. Most parents with one vaccine-injured child have no options for the rest of their children. The CDC and state health departments do not recognize “sibling vaccine injury” as a legitimate contraindication to vaccination.
The move to abridge and then eliminate vaccine exemptions is a violation of our civil, parental, religious, and human rights.
The autism-vaccine issue remains the 800 pound gorilla in the room hidden under a handkerchief. It’s on everyone’s minds and no one wants to say anything for fear of being marginalized. Political correctness is killing us.
I have deep compassion for the many who do not have a voice. Join me in speaking out for New Jersey’s autism families.
THERE IS NO SCIENCE BACKING THE WAY VACCINES ARE ADMINISTERED.
As a former Bain consultant with an Amazon bestselling vaccine book (and a second book on its way) who spent over 10,000 hours studying this issue and interviewing experts as if my children’s lives depended on it — because they did — I can tell you that there is both ample peer-reviewed scientific research and substantial clinical experience raising grave questions about the wisdom of the US childhood vaccine program and offering insights into vaccine injury and the link to the devastating chronic, autoimmune, and neurodevelopmental disorders plaguing our children. Yes, autism. Also yes, ADHD, allergies, asthma, arthritis, and that’s just the A’s. There’s a lot more.
We do not need to prove that vaccines cause autism in order to take action. We merely need to admit that we never proved that vaccines, in the way they are administered, are safe. The Institute of Medicine already told us this. Repeatedly.
We have never rigorously evaluated, using the standards of modern, evidence-based medicine, the health outcomes of fully unvaccinated children versus fully vaccinated children who are in receipt of vaccines as indicated by our government starting on the day of birth and then continuing with multiple vaccines at their 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 12th, 15th, 18th, and 24th month well visits plus annual flu shots starting at 6 months of age plus the kindergarten shots, the 6th grade shots, and a growing number of teen shots for a staggering total of over 70 doses of 16 vaccines.
Let’s please not debate the ethical merits of such a study right now. Let’s just, for the moment, admit that it’s never been done so we do not know.
PARENTS DESERVE TO KNOW.
If our government feels compelled to recommend vaccines for public health reasons, so be it. But it must give parents informed consent: Information on the risks and benefits plus the opportunity to consent or decline. This happens to be the international human rights standard and a requirement in the practice of ethical medicine.
This is not what’s happening, however.
“There is no federal requirement for informed consent related to immunization,” says the CDC.
PROTECT PARENTAL RIGHTS AND LEAVE EXEMPTIONS ALONE.
April was a doubly taxing month for parents, no pun intended. Not only did we get the terrible autism numbers. The New Jersey legislature is going after the religious exemption to mandatory vaccination.
This contradicts the interests of millions of New Jersey families. It is an abomination that special interests are moving to infringe upon one of our inalienable first freedoms — the Constitutionally-protected right to exercise a religious exemption to mandatory vaccination. It erects legally dubious hurdles that will effectively deny children from religious families access to day care and school.
And here's another thing to think about: Herd Immunity. The idea that very large numbers in a community must be vaccinated in order to resist the spread of disease, and that partly or fully unvaccinated children are putting everyone at risk. It is an example of something that is said so often that people reflexively believe it. This is what you need to know. IT'S NOT CORRECT. And making policies based upon it is a very slippery slope:
- Almost all New Jersey families vaccinate their children. Only 2% take an exemption and not all of these children are fully unvaccinated.
- Adults never received all the vaccines that today’s children do.
- There’s no infectious disease emergency. No government should abridge civil or human rights without compelling state interest. Governments like to overreach. We’re talking about what it means to be free.
- There is no scientific basis upon which to claim that unvaccinated children spread disease. It’s actually ludicrous. Should you be quarantined, Phil, for spreading meningitis? Of course not; you don’t have meningitis. Should you be quarantined because you might get it? Should you and your children be forced to get every government-indicated vaccine, and how about the hundreds of vaccines in the development pipeline, even though we know they are imperfect and carry serious risks that we don’t fully understand? What if your son has asthma and his doctor says no vaccines, but the state overrides his medical exemption? And what if some or all vaccines happen to violate your religious beliefs? What if you do not want your children injected with vaccines cultured on tissue from a terminated pregnancy (i.e., Merck’s current MMR and chickenpox vaccines)? Should you be forced to inject your children with these vaccines if you want to send them to school? Should the state be in the position to define which religions are legitimate, what religions can and cannot include, and which religious beliefs are bona fide and sincere? And I’m just warming up. Aren’t we starting to upend sacred territory about who we are and what we stand for?
- Herd immunity is based on a phenomenon observed after the contraction and resolution of wild-strain infectious diseases in communities. Its original basis had nothing to do with vaccines and, moreover, it has never been proven. Ask James Colgrove, PhD, MPH, Chair and Professor, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health. His book explains that health officials seized upon the hypothesis as a way of convincing the resistant masses to comply — it is a “techniques of mass persuasion."
Vaccination is not a magical carpet ride to a utopian land of risk-free immunity. It’s time to stop this egregious, special interests-driven, fear-based infringement of our rights.
HEALTH CARE, EDUCATION, WOMEN, KIDS, MINORITIES:
These issues encompass many of your and Tammy’s key advocacies. I know my words are not falling on deaf ears.
Autism is a serious burden on families. It disproportionately impacts the disadvantaged — women, minorities, and single parents — and especially so because mothers are always on the front lines when it comes to our children’s health, education, and welfare. I hear from and cry with so many of these families. You can’t imagine the pain and alienation. When you’re ready to meet with more autism families, please say the word.
As with other health care decisions, vaccination is intensely personal. It reflects a mix of religious, ethical, philosophical, medical, and other views. The rights to hold our beliefs and make decisions in concordance are sacred and Constitutionally-protected. Without robust exemptions, concerned parents will face the prospects of homeschooling, moving, or vaccinating against their religious tenets. By legislatively weakening or eliminating exemptions, you are guaranteeing that some children whose parents do not want them vaccinated will be catastrophically impacted.
Let’s educate parents; help make them aware of the risks and benefits; and empower them to make their decisions.
PARENTS HAVE FOUGHT FOR THIS RIGHT, AND WILL AGAIN.
You may remember the September 5, 2008 rally on my front lawn the day you hosted then Senator Obama for a fundraiser.
I organized a larger rally in Trenton on October 16, 2008 with a coalition of parents and professionals. Over 700 people rallied on the steps of the Statehouse. I appeared on Fox & Friends and ABC World News Tonight. The story hit the AP wire and made the Drudge Report as one of the biggest news stories of the day.
Governor Corzine honored his promise to me. Health Commissioner Heather Howard gave us this letter. Governor Christie similarly honored the promise he made in this statement he wrote for me during his campaign.
This is a non-partisan issue.
I and other parents contacted you during your gubernatorial campaign and you expressed your support for vaccine informed consent. We’re asking you to keep your promise.
Please prioritize a hard-hitting inquiry into solving New Jersey’s autism catastrophe.
Please protect parental vaccine rights and informed consent.
Please call upon me if I can be helpful to you and your policy advisors.
New Jersey parents are counting on you. We have a vested interest in your success.
With respect and warm regards,
Louise Kuo Habakus
To read Louise's full letter complete with scientific evidence, research facts, video links, and more, CLICK HERE.
For more on Louise's website Fearless Parent, CLICK HERE.
For the Fearless Parent Facebook page, CLICK HERE.
Louise Kuo Habakus is the founding director of Fearless Parent™. She is a best-selling author and a community organizer. Louise runs two non-profits, Center for Personal Rights and Health Freedom Action; lectures widely; podcasts occasionally; and has appeared in numerous media outlets, including ABC World News Tonight, Fox & Friends, and The New York Times. She was a Bain consultant and a C-level executive in the financial services industry. She holds two degrees from Stanford University. Louise is an advisor to Focus for Health Foundation, GreenMedInfo, The Documenting Hope Project, and SHE Living TV. She is a also the mother of two. Read more about Louise’s work here.