Autism moves to the forefront of the 2024 election

Two presidential candidates are bringing the rise of autism into the national conversation.

Written by Editorial Team

On the campaign trail: Support for Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., known for his advocacy on vaccine safety and investigations into autism links, is now reaching double digits in the Democratic primary, according to a recent poll. Now, his campaign is bringing attention to Big Pharma's influence in Washington and addressing American health issues. It seems he’s now influencing Trump as well.

  • By the numbers: Autism rates among children have seen a drastic increase, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently, one in every 36 children is affected, compared to one in 110 in 2006 and one in 150 in 2000. This rise is even more stark when compared to the 1990s rate of approximately 30 in 10,000 and the 1970s rate of less than three in 10,000.

From Trump: Former President Donald Trump mirrored RFK Jr.'s anti-Big Pharma sentiments in a recent campaign video. He highlighted the urgency of discussing the alarming rise in chronic diseases like autism among children, suggesting that the public health sector is not investigating the causes of illness because of its ties to Big Pharma.

  • Flashback: In 2017, RFK Jr. revealed that then-President-elect Trump had proposed he lead a new vaccine commission. While the commission never materialized, it underscored Trump's interest in exploring the alleged vaccine-autism connection.

Debunked? Mainstream media have often relied on institutions like the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to discredit theories that link autism to vaccines. However, by 2023, the credibility of these institutions has been significantly undermined due to the unscientific handling of the pandemic and recent controversial stances on sex changes for minors.

Powerful lobby: The commission was likely canned because of its controversial nature. It's evident that health experts, alongside pharmaceutical companies, often curtail debates around vaccine safety. Plus, Trump had placed officials with ties to Big Pharma into his administration at the time. While vaccine skepticism may have seemed like a conspiracy theory in 2017, the pandemic highlighted the significant influence medical entities and pharmaceutical corporations wield over online discourse and policy decisions.

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