Autism and birth control pills: what is the connection?
Every parent of an autistic child would give anything to understand the causes of autism spectrum disorder. It's widely accepted that there is a yet unverified contributing factor, with an unnamed environmental trigger often cited.
If we as a society struggling with enormous issues and expenditures surrounding autism noticed a parallel dramatic increase of a certain drug with the dramatic rise in autism, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect that link to be researched from every possible angle?
Birth control came around the same time that autism was diagnosed at around 1 in 10,000 and now, with widespread birth control use, the number of autism cases has skyrocketed.
In many parts of the world, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, Japan and Scandinavia, the rates were flat through the late '80s, and then suddenly a massive increase took place simultaneously. Certainly it raises questions. The same countries who legalized and experienced a rapid increase in the use of birth control pills saw a rise in autism. This did not happen in countries like Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Portugal, and Oman, who never legalized or adopted birth control pills on such a massive scale.
It would be expected that countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Germany, and Oman would have such low autism rates (two orders of magnitude lower than the U.S.) because their religions prohibit them from taking any birth control measures, including abortion, the pill, and the morning after pill. The fact that the autism rates in Mexico, China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Venezuela is an order of magnitude higher than these West European nations, and an order of magnitude lower than ours, can be explained by their legalization of birth control, but an implementation at a much lower rate than us.
The U.S. states with the highest percentage of Catholics, and thus the lowest rates of contraception, have the lowest rates of autism, whereas those with the lowest percentage of Catholics (and thus the highest rates of contraception) are also the states with the highest rates of autism, with 1 in 718 children in Vermont vs. 1 in 67 children in Minnesota (a difference of more than one order of magnitude, larger than the differences across most countries). That alone is an astounding fact.
The birth control pill seems to be recommended these days for everything from irregular periods to mood swings to acne. Scientific research has shown a connection with birth control pill usage and breast cancer. (In 2005, the World Health Organization classified oral contraceptives as a Group I carcinogen—the most dangerous classification known. Also, a comprehensive meta-analysis* published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings in October, 2006 found that 21 out of 23 retrospective studies done since 1980 showed that women who took oral contraceptive prior to the birth of their first child sustained a 44% average increased risk of developing pre-menopausal breast cancer.] This risk rose to 52% for women who took the pill for at least four years prior to the birth of their first child.) This information still isn't widely known, as pharmaceutical companies rake in millions from birth control pills. Isn't the possibility of this contraceptive being a factor in autism at least worth looking into?
Why doesn't the FDA or CDC study this?