Almost Twelve Years Later, a Finger in the Dam

HCPLive blogger Jill Taylor revisits the Lancet's retraction of the controversial 1998 autism study, and points to some new research in this field.

I missed The Lancet’s retraction last week of Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 paper that marked the beginning of the anti-vaccination fervor among parents… given all the science against it — and the ethical considerations uncovered — a retraction was the right thing to do. Sadly, it will likely be too little, too late. I doubt that it will change the sentiment of a segment of the public for whom vaccines as the cause of autism has filled an emotionally-charged hole.

However, I did run across an interesting study that links the risk of autism to both maternal and paternal ages. University of California Davis researchers looked at 12,159 children diagnosed with autism and found that the increase in risk of having a child that will develop autistic behavior for fathers over 40 years old is especially pronounced when the mother is under 30. Paternal age did not appear to have an effect when the mother was over 30, which I thought was interesting. Maternal age did have an effect, with 40-year-old women having an increased risk of 77% over women under 25.

Also, Autism Speaks has released a list of what the organizations consider the most prominent achievements in autism research for 2009 if you’d like to check it out.