Skip Navigation

News Release

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

World Autism Awareness Day

Today, on the first World Autism Awareness Day, we pause to reaffirm our commitment to protecting the health of children in our country and throughout the world.  Our determination remains strong as we continue our research efforts to increase understanding of how to treat and prevent autism and autism spectrum disorders.

People with these conditions, and members of their families, rely on the knowledge that science can offer. But there is much we do not yet understand. This is why we actively pursue research into genetic and environmental factors that may be involved in autism, and why we search for new treatments and therapies that may improve the quality of life for people with autism.  Although we continue to evaluate vaccine safety to ensure we are providing the safest immunizations for our children, there is no credible scientific evidence to date that links vaccines to the development of autism, Therefore, we recommend that parents continue to have their children vaccinated.  Vaccines have been one of the greatest medical advances in the past century. Vaccines have prevented -- in some cases eliminated -- many childhood diseases that were once considered unavoidable.

There also are steps that parents of young children with autism can take, because treatment given early offers hope of reducing the impact of the condition.  It is crucial to know the developmental milestones in how young children play, learn, speak and act.  A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of a developmental problem, including autism.  The good news is, however, that the earlier the condition is recognized, the more parents can do to help their children reach their full potential.  We encourage all parents to “Learn the Signs. Act Early’’ by visiting

We know that autism is a heart-wrenching condition that presents special challenges for many families.  While we are physicians, we are also parents. We want parents of all children with autism to know that we are listening to them, not just today, but every day.

Joxel García, M.D., M.B.A.
Assistant Secretary for Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Julie L. Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
National Institutes of Health

Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D.
Food and Drug Administration

For more information, visit


Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at

Last revised: August 29, 2008