No doubt with that in mind, eight members of Congress are calling for a new investigation into the link between the autism epidemic and the mercury-based preservative, thimerosal, that children received in vaccines during the 1990s, and that some children received as late as 2003.
After six years of hearings, and testimony from medical experts, scientists, special education teachers, school nurses, and parents of autistic children, several lawmakers say they are convinced that a review of the vaccine database will show a causal link between autism and thimerosal.
Throughout the 1990s, when thimerosal was most heavily used, the number of children diagnosed with autism reached epidemic proportions. During this period, the levels of mercury that children received were 120 times greater than safety standards set for oral ingestion of mercury in food, according to the lawmakers.
In seeking an independent review, the lawmakers basically told the Centers for Disease Control to butt out. They maintain that previous research conducted by the agency is flawed because it "was based on data collected prior to the removal of thimerosal and failed to explicitly compare the outcome of children who received thimerosal-containing vaccines with those who did not," they said.
The group has also criticized the Institute of Medicine for its 2004 public announcement that there is no link between vaccines and autism, because the conclusion for the most part, was based on European studies, when American children had been injected with 75% higher levels of mercury than the European children in the studies were exposed to.
"If the federal government is going to have a study whose results will be broadly accepted, such a study cannot be led by the CDC," the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
Although the debate over the cause of autism may rage on indefinitely, the rising costs to society of caring for and educating the children afflicted with the disorder can not be ignored.
On January 4, 2005, the Government Accountability Office advised the Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness Committee on Government Reform, that the average per pupil cost for educating a child with autism was estimated to be over $18,000 during the 1999-2000 school year, the most recent year in which data were available at the time of the report.
That means that six years ago, the GAO 's estimate for educating autistic children was nearly 3 times the cost of educating a normal student. The amount of money needed to educate autistic children is the highest per pupil cost for children receiving special ed services.
The epidemic does not discriminate, its happening in every state in the nation, due to the fact that under the mandatory vaccine schedule, children in every state received the same mercury-laced vaccines.
The total number of autistic students served statewide increased from 10,360 in December 1998 to 20,377 in December 2002.
Over the last 6 years, the state of Ohio experienced more than a 1,000% increase in students with autism, with 5,406 reported cases for the 2003-2004 school year, according to the Ohio Legislative Office Of Education Oversight.