As a father and grandfather, protecting the health of children, born and unborn, is a personal priority for me. I would like to thank Senator Klobuchar for scheduling this important hearing to discuss new developments in autism and other neuro-development disorders.
Autism and related developmental disorders affect approximately 1 in 110 births and are growing at an alarming rate of 10 to 17 percent per year. At this rate, there are estimates that the prevalence of autism could reach 4 million Americans in the next decade. Autism and similar disorders have no ethnic, racial, or social boundaries and can affect any family or child indiscriminately. Autism has increasingly been identified as a mostly complex genetic disorder, but some environmental factors may also be linked to its causes.
I have always championed the use of the best available science to properly assess the risks these devastating disorders have on children and families. Due to the increasing rates of Autism in children, the committee must ensure that the best available scientific research is conducted and appropriate funding is directed towards these causes.
Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have dedicated resources to research the environmental health factors associated with autism, and I look forward to hearing from the witnesses on the status of these ongoing studies. I invite the agencies and experts to identify areas where there may be inefficiencies or lack of sufficient information so we can address these issues and make certain that proper resources are being dedicated to the most appropriate areas of study.
The rise in autism is a very serious problem facing our nation’s children and families, and I will stay committed to discovering the causes and finding treatments. I look forward to hearing the results of the agencies’ findings, and how the federal government can enhance and improve its research efforts.