Pediatricians discuss whether there is a link between preventative treatments and this illness.
-You're watching The Oath on Parents TV. Here's your host Dr. Erika Schwartz. -Hi. Over the past 10 to 15 years, there's been a significant increase in the number of kids diagnosed with autism. Parents and physicians are puzzled. Is this a genetic shift? Is it environmental toxins? Is the epidemic of autism caused by vaccinations? Dr. Joseph Licata and Dr. Jo Feingold, both pediatricians in the New York metropolitan area, are here to help us better understand what's going on. -Dr. Licata, to what do you attribute this large increase, sudden increase in autism? -Well, you have to understand that it's-- autism is not just one single entity. It's a spectrum of disorders. And I think that what's been happening now is that pediatricians recognize spectrums of symptoms that fall into this diagnosis, but it's not just one specific thing, so it's been broadened. And so, as a consequence, many more children who were never before considered autistic are now considered in that spectrum. -So, what you're saying is essentially that it's not necessarily that there are more cases of autism, but rather that a diagnosis is broader so more people get diagnosed that wouldn't have gotten diagnosed earlier. -That's a component. That's right. -Okay. -I think that there's a component-- -Okay. -that is the diagnosis is broader, but there very well may be other causes that we have yet to understand-- -Okay. -that have increased certain -- -Do you think vaccinations are part of it possibly? -I don't think vaccinations are a cause. There's been no legitimate scientific study that has put into evidence a cause and effect with autism and immunizations. -Dr. Feingold, what do you think is causing this? Do we have any idea what's causing it? -In the autistic child, we have a difficulty in the methylation pathway. -Okay. -That methylation pathway is responsible for getting rid of certain toxins, mercury being one of them. So, we're not saying that this is the only trigger, but definitely, there is a biochemical reason why these children have difficulty getting rid of some now. -But-- Is there any way that we can identify? Dr. Licata, can we predict who's gonna be having a problem with this particular pathway? -Well, I think that that's where the research is headed towards. -All right, all right. -It's headed towards understanding the genetic basis. And they feel that there is a genetic basis to it. And once we understand what genes, when they interact in a certain way, it's almost like the planets have to align, and when they do, perhaps, there are some, you know, toxins or some environmental agents that may, along with the genetic predisposition, cause a person to manifest autism. -So, what do you tell your patient? Now, you, Dr. Feingold, if this were your child, would you tell your patient, immunize, don't immunize, be aware, be concerned? What would you say? -I'm a pediatrician. As pediatricians, we have all immunized. I have five children. -All right. -I've immunized all five-- -All five. -[unk] -before I get-- I got into this field. -All right. -Now, I would say do it cautiously. Do it-- If you have two children who have regressive autism, they regress at 18 months, it would be really silly to give them an immunization at 18 months. Wait until 24 until-- -So slow down essentially. -to slow it down a little bit. You can divide them. -Dr. Licata? -Well, I think you have to understand and parents have to understand that the schedule for these immunizations, they're not just haphazard, they're made by experts. We look at the epidemiology of these diseases and we try to schedule those immunizations when they're most beneficial to that patient. So, that-- -So you kind of change-- you could do it according to-- -Well, I think it's important that they follow to-- -Right. -some degree the recommendations because that's when they're most susceptible to-- -Susceptible-- -those diseases. So, by waiting and saying, well, let's wait until they're older, that only increases the susceptibility during that time for that illness. -Okay. So, one last question for the two of you. -Sure. -What about the fact that the schools will not allow you-- children who have not been immunized--and a lot of physicians do not tell the truth, they sign immunization records for the patients-- what about that? Do you think that increases the risk? Yes? No? -Well, I think that it's such a small number of people that are actually doing that,-- -Okay. -not immunizing their children, that I don't think it's increasing the risk. You shouldn't lie. -Dr. Licata? -No. Again, I think you have to be careful because-- -Okay. -those illnesses and those diseases are only a plane ride away. -Okay. -You know, they're everywhere. And they can be brought into this community very quickly [unk] -So caution. -And so you gotta be careful. Dr. Licata, Dr. Feingold, I know we could be talking about this for hours. I thank you so much for coming and sharing your wisdom and your knowledge with us. This is a big decision for all parents. That's why it's so important to find a doctor who feels the same way about this issue as you do. So, have your talk with your physician during your next visit. We'd like to hear your thoughts and ideas. You can e-mail us at ideas@parents. TV. Thanks for watching Parents TV. Your source for the best information for your growing family. -Thank you for watching Parents TV. Our families. Our lives.