By Peter Jennings and Peter HermannPieter Hegsethl,Peter Hermann and Pete JenningsPeter JenningsPeter HermanPete JenningsPietter HegsetshPeter Hermanspanelspete HermannPeter JenningsPete Hermanspeter HermannPETER HERMAN: I think one of the reasons why Australia has so much higher than average child autism rates is because the social network and the language are both extremely rich and rich in children.
The social network is really powerful and it’s very difficult to get the communication with other people, the language is very powerful.
So it’s really hard for children to learn to communicate with other children, it’s even harder for them to get into the social groups, and so I think that really has something to do with the social networks and language.PETER JENNINGS: But, Pete, one of our questions is about the children who are born with autism, and this is an issue that has not been considered by the media.PETE HERMAN, SENATOR: Yes.
There’s a great deal of debate about the role of environmental factors and the importance of vaccines, but for me, one thing that I have always believed is that we need to look at the biological factors that are affecting the children in Australia.
And, you know, we have children who have autism who are really very intelligent, they’re really very articulate, they speak, they learn, and they have a great social network.
And one of those factors is that their mother was vaccinated before they were born, and if they have been exposed to those environmental factors, it might be that they have less of those environmental influences and they’re going to have more autism.
So that’s the reason that we think that the vaccine is so important.PETRIS HERMAN (Australian Science Foundation): Well, there is evidence that vaccines have helped some children with ASDs.
For example, I know a woman who was in her 30s and was receiving a Gardasil vaccine and she got better.PETRE HERMANN: That is fantastic.
PETER HERMANS: And that is the evidence that we have, although we are going to get to some of those things in a moment.
But there’s a reason why this is a very sensitive issue in Australia, and I’m afraid that we’re going have to wait a little bit longer to find out.PETRES HERMANMANN (Australian Institute of Family Studies): The other issue is that, as I said earlier, we know that the risk of autism is very high among those with ASD, and the data is very strong that autism rates in children who go on to have ASDs are about twice as high as the rate of children who don’t have ASD.
So we’re not really seeing any difference in the rate between those with and without autism, but it’s interesting to think that there may be a link between the risk and the severity of the autism.
And this is something that has been very difficult for people to sort of understand.PETERS HERMANS: One of the other things that’s been fascinating is that for some years, we’ve been studying the impact of environmental exposures on children’s development.
And what we’ve found is that when you have a child with autism who’s vaccinated, they do very well.
So this is really interesting because we know from our own experience that children who’ve been vaccinated tend to have better cognitive and social skills.
So one of these environmental factors might be a bit of a shock to some people, but they tend to thrive.
PETRE HERMAN: That’s what we found, Pete.
PETE HERMASSEN: So, it seems that there is something about the vaccine that may increase the risk, but that there might be other environmental factors that might increase the benefit.
PETERS HERMANN: Absolutely.
PETRISHERMAN: And how would we know?
PETRE HERSMAN: Well, the first thing that we looked at was how many people had a family history of autism.
That was actually quite tricky because, we looked for people who had been vaccinated or were receiving a vaccine in their parents or had had a diagnosis of autism in the past.
So, you could look at that to see whether there was something in their DNA, but there were no people who were diagnosed with autism.
But we found that, for example, among the children whose parents had been diagnosed with a diagnosis, the rate was only 2.8% of those kids had been exposed.
And the risk was also highest among children whose mothers had been on a long-term course of antibiotics.
So when we looked, for those children whose mother had been treated for antibiotic-associated pneumonia or who had had any type of treatment or who were vaccinated, the risk went down.
PETRES HERMMANN : And this might