Over the past 25 years, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has emerged from virtual obscurity to becoming the fastest growing developmental disorder today. Once described by experts as "extremely rare," the number of U.S. children diagnosed with ASD has increased from 1 in 10,000 in the late 1980s to 1 in 110. The rate for boys is 1 in 70, which is four to five times higher than for girls. Today, this has become a major health concern impacting millions of children and their families.

Much has been written about autism over the past decade. Each day numerous news articles report on new research, new treatments and the many challenges faced in caring for and educating individuals with autism. Much of the coverage however, has been focused on the controversial debate surrounding the possible role vaccinations may play in triggering the onset of what is often called the "mysterious disorder."

This week, in a first of its kind piece of investigative journalism, The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine and A Manmade Epidemic, takes us back to the roots of the disorder and attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding the exploding statistics that has generated so much controversy.

"The Age of Autism" delivers a compelling examination of how mercury in medicine and in the environment may be contributing to the escalation of neurological and autoimmune diseases we are witnessing today, particularly autism.

Written by Dan Olmsted, an award-winning veteran journalist and former senior editor for USA Weekend and United Press International (UPI), and Mark Blaxill, a businessman with degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Business School, who became a researcher and advocate after his normally developing daughter suddenly regressed and was diagnosed with autism.

Throughout the book, the authors deliver extraordinary details, painstakingly documenting the disastrous health effects caused by mercury beginning with its medical use to treat syphilis in the late 1490s, its use in teething powders in the 1800's to the mid-1950's and the startling evidence that links mercury exposure to the first recorded cases of autism.

The authors delve into the yet to be explained phenomena of the absence of autism among unvaccinated populations, a compelling clue that medical and federal officials have dismissed and thus far refused to investigate. The book also provides credible and chilling evidence that explains why many scientists, physicians and parents believe the use of mercury in childhood vaccines could have lead to one of the worst medical mistakes in history.

Both Olmsted and Blaxill make clear that they are not "anti-vaccine" and in fact support vaccinations. However, in a quest for the answers, they are not willing to ignore the important - albeit inconvenient - facts.

Regardless of your position on vaccinations, something terrible has happened to a generation of children that health officials, thus far, have failed to explain or adequately investigate. That explanation may well be found in the pages of the "Age of Autism."

"The Age of Autism" lays out disturbing evidence that mercury from many sources is a major factor in the rise of this tragic epidemic. Make sure your doctor sees a copy of this timely book.

Deirdre Imus is the Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology (r) at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. Deirdre is the author of four books, including three national bestsellers. She is a frequent speaker on green living and children's health issues, and is a contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com. For more information go to www.dienviro.com

Deirdre Imus, Founder of the site devoted to environmental health, www.ImusEnvironmentalHealth.org, is President and Founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health CenterĀ® at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder/Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. She is a New York Times best-selling author and a frequent contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com, and Fox Business Channel. Check out her website at www.ImusEnvironmentalHealth.org. Follow her on Twitter@TheGreenDirt and 'like' her Facebook page here.