Tuesday, 07 June 2011
Autism is still very much a mystery, I’m fairly certain that we can all agree on that. Some people may think they have it all figured out (anti-vaccine extremists) but for the most part, everyone admits that there is still a lot to learn.
May Increase The Risk of Autism
As such, study after study seems to hit the news wires with the tag line “may increase the risk of autism” and collectively, the entire autism community rolls their eyes.
Some of these studies in the last year include “Living Near a Highway May Contribute to Autism Risk“, “Jaundice in newborns may be linked to autism“, “Sibling spacing may be tied to autism risk“, “Early Prenatal Vitamin Use Prevents Autism” and the list goes on.
You have to understand how these studies come about. Researchers pick a year, or several years, go back through medical records of children born during those years, determine which ones have been diagnosed with Autism and find something that more than 50% of them have in common.
If they find that 55% of children living close to a highway had Autism, then they can release a news story saying that a study was done that determined that living close to a highway increased the risk.
There’s several problems with this.
- They aren’t counting the children that have gone undiagnosed.
- A lot of information could be out of date or simply incorrect. Historical records in studies make for a huge margin of error.
- When you’re looking for a commonality, you can find virtually anything.
Allow me to clarify #3… let’s say that they could find out if a bird was flying over the house at the moment of conception in 51% of Autism cases. This could result in a study stating that birds flying overhead during sex could increase the risk of Autism.
Luckily, there’s no way they could check that but you know what? It’s possible that it did happen.
Does that mean it really increased the risk? No.Real Scientific Research