to predict autism spectrum disorder in children". The findings were published in the journal
It is probably a good idea to reserve judgement until these findings can be verified and replicated, but if this holds true it could be a breakthrough on the path to find the actual cause(s) of autism itself. Granted the study can only claim a 70% accuracy when predicting autism, but the fact they were able to identify specific genetic markers is promising, and in time the accuracy will most likely be vastly improved.
This type of research can help identify at-risk children far sooner in life which in turn can allow treatments to begin earlier in the child's life. Early detection and treatment can make all the difference when it comes to autism, so this type of research can be invaluable.
The question now becomes - how can anti-vaccinationists spin this study to blame vaccines for autism? It doesn't seem likely that they will suggest that vaccines are responsible for the manipulation of genetic code in a small child, thus I can think of two excuses we can expect to see from the antivaxxer community.
Number one, antivaxxers will claim that vaccines work in conjunction with these genetic markers to "trigger" autism in children. This is an interesting theory of course, but it will be as equally interesting to see the data and research which supports this hypothesis. Needless to say I can almost hear the antivaxxer community scurrying to come up with something - anything - they can use to suggest this is plausible.
Number two, antivaxxers will claim that vaccines cause genetic mutations which are then passed on to the offspring of those people who received vaccinations in the past. Thus if two adults are fully vaccinated and they produce offspring, the child would then reflect these genetic markers that put him or her at risk for autism. Again it will be interesting to see the science that shows the vaccination status of the parents if antivaxxers wish to push this theory.
Granted there could be several more excuses that I couldn't even begin to guess, but the one thing I am certain about is that the antivaxxers will NOT come out and claim that autism is a genetic disorder with no connection to vaccines... because that would be allowing the science to steer their views rather than backing into an opinion by discrediting the science. The truth is, if we all let science guide our views rather than making assumptions, there would be no such thing as an antivaxxer in the first place. However since that isn't the case, it is safe to assume this study will be ignored and overlooked by the antivaxxer community, just as all of the previous research that has shown a strong genetic component to autism has been ignored and/or manipulated.
Full article here: Genetic Test For Autism Developed By Australian Scientists
Update 9/14/12: As predicted, antivaxxers such as Lowell Hubbs have complained that I didn't link to the actual study, and therefore Mr. Hubbs has suggested I didn't actually bother to read it. Obviously that is quite an assumption on the part of Mr. Hubbs, although true to form he is one again incorrect.
I didn't realize I had to spoon feed the anti-vaccinationists by giving them direct links therefore eliminating the confusion caused by using a search bar, but to humor Mr. Hubbs I'll go ahead and provide the link here. Please note that eventually this study will most likely not be available for free viewing, and as such the link may stop working (which is why I didn't include it originally and instead merely linked to the journal which published the study). However for the time being you may read the original study at the link below:
Molecular Psychiatry: Predicting the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder using gene pathway analysis
When the study is no longer available (aka: open) on the website, you should still be able to read the abstract by searching for the title of the study above and/or the primary author's name: Professor Christos Pantelis.
I should also note that Mr. Hubbs claims this study "actually in fact directly supports the ASD/Vaccine connection". I of course predicted antivaxxers would take this route, but of course aside from his opinion Mr. Hubbs can offer no evidence to support this statement. In fact, the study itself makes no reference to vaccines at all, and the term "vaccine" is found nowhere within the text of the study. This is yet another example of antivaxxers seeing what they wish to see, with no time spent understanding the science, the methods, or the output of many hours of effort. If anyone didn't bother to read a study, I'm guessing it was Mr. Hubbs as I can see not other explanation behind such a severe misunderstanding of the content.
The reality is the study surrounds genetic variants and the ability to predict autism and other autism spectrum disorders. It has to do with genetic classification and prediction - nothing more. The researchers did not in any way broach the subject of what "causes" autism, but rather they are focused upon detection methods. Much more must be done to expand upon this data to learn the root causes of the genetic markers identified within this study, but we are a long, long way from being able to make any statements pertaining to causation.
Far be it from an antivaxxer to wait until the science leads them down a path before they proudly proclaim they have all the answers. In the mind of an antivaxxer like Lowell Hubbs, research can be interpreted any number of ways... provided all of those ways result in someone or something blaming vaccines for autism.