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New study indicates a decline in biomedical research; Autism Speaks urges government to increase research funding

September 22, 2015

Autism Speaks funds a significant amount of research made possible by the fundraising efforts of thousands of families across the country. To date, Autism Speaks has committed $131 million to research. "Because there are many kinds of autisms, as there are many kinds of cancers, we expect many environmental factors may be contributing to the increase in autism prevalence," explained Dr. Dawson. "With a significant part of the increase attributed to unknown factors, we have cast a wide net to explore the role of environmental factors, so we have funded research on prenatal factors (maternal and paternal age), diet and nutrition, challenges to the immune system, chemicals, and toxins. There is so much work to be done."

"During his campaign, President Obama committed to $1 billion of annual federal spending on autism by 2012. In October, he identified autism as one of his administration's top three public health priorities. This new prevalence data must compel Congress to take action to fulfill the President's promise in the upcoming FY 2011 budget process," said Mark Roithmayr, President of Autism Speaks. "In addition to the funding of research, it is also vital that any healthcare reform legislation sent by Congress to the President must include - as both the current House and Senate versions do - an end to insurance discrimination against people with autism by requiring insurers to deliver coverage for behavioral health treatments."

The JAMA paper states that biomedical research "serves many masters and is highly valued as a source of new and more effective treatments for common or devastating diseases," and further that research, and the products and services it develops, are sources of economic development. The paper concludes that is likely in coming years a debate will emerge whether new technology represents a new cost or a value added. "There is no doubt that advances in autism research on causes and treatments will actually reduce the long term and growing cost to this country of supporting the growing population of individuals with autism, some 750,000 children and the not yet counted population of adults," concluded Dr. Dawson.

Source: Autism Speaks