In the two decades since I opened my practice, I've seen a dramatic rise in the number of families with autistic children.

I'm not the only one.

The number of cases across the country has skyrocketed, up 78 percent between 2002 and 2008, according to new numbers from the CDC. Another way to put it: 1 in 88 kids now have the condition.

If this were any other disease, it would be considered an epidemic. If there was a drug on the market for it, you can bet there would be campaigns to get people to take it (and you can also bet those campaigns would be funded with tax money).

Instead, it just gets a ho-hum reaction from the mainstream -- with even the CDC itself trying to pretend the increase isn't real.

"There is the possibility that the increase in cases is entirely the result of better detection," Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the agency, said at a briefing.

That's right -- Dr. Frieden wants you to think all those new cases of autism were there all along... you just didn't notice them.

I say that's a load of bunk -- because while better detection is responsible for some of that increase, it doesn't explain the vast majority of it. You can blame those squarely on all the toxins and other poisons kids are being exposed to at every turn, even starting in the womb.

Here's an example: Children in homes with vinyl floors have double the risk of autism than kids in homes with wood floors, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Neurotoxicology.

That's almost certainly because vinyl floors contain phthalates, a hormone-like chemical used in plastics.

And that's just one example.

Other kids are getting extra hormones from the chemical BPA, which is used in food and drink packaging -- and that's another cause of autism.

Mercury exposure has also been linked to autism, and you'll find that poison leeching into the water in many places, in amalgam fillings -- and, despite what you may have heard, it's still used in some vaccines.

And speaking of vaccines, there's definitely a link between the condition and some common childhood shots, especially combination shots such as MMR.

Other kids are suffering from severe nutritional deficiencies thanks to the toxic modern diet, while still others can't get the nutrients they need even if they do eat right thanks to genetic problems.

In short, there's no single cause of autism. Genetics are a contributing factor, but environmental factors are the more obvious reason for the skyrocketing rates. Many of the causes simply didn't exist years ago -- or didn't exist to the extent that they do today.

That's not only the real reason for the increase... it's also why you'll continue to see the numbers skyrocket.

I've got more on BPA next.