National Disease Tracking System Required To Study Rise in Autism, Los Angeles Times Says
In response to recent findings that a dramatic increase in the number of Californians diagnosed with autism cannot be explained by "statistical glitches," Congress should "develop an effective and comprehensive way to track the outbreak of chronic diseases" nationwide, a Los Angles Times editorial states (Los Angeles Times, 10/22). A study conducted in 1999 found that from 1987 to 1998 the number of people with autism who received care through the state Department of Developmental Services increased 273%. In a new study, researchers at the University of California-Davis concluded that the previous results cannot be attributed to statistical flaws, coincidence, relaxed diagnostic criteria or population shifts. The study did not determine why the number of autism diagnoses is increasing (California Healthline, 10/18). While California leads the nation in research on autism trends, its "initiative does little to help people in other states, most of which have no chronic disease monitoring systems," the Times states. To create a "national chronic disease database," consumer privacy groups must allow scientists to have limited access to patients' medical records. The Times concludes that "continued indifference" to chronic disease tracking "will be deadly," and lawmakers must "give epidemiologists the money and moral support they need to overturn all the rocks in their search for rising autism rates" (Los Angeles Times, 10/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.