Feeds

Does TV watching in childhood trigger autism?

The evil box

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Also in this week's column:

Does TV watching in childhood trigger autism?

Autism is at epidemic levels. Authorities point out that 30 years ago estimates were that one in 2,500 children suffered from autism. Now the figure is one in 166. Could we be diagnosing autism differently today? Or is something else really happening?

Researchers at Cornell University suggest a connection between early childhood television viewing and the onset of autism. In fact, they argue that "early childhood television viewing could be an environmental trigger for the onset of autism".

Economist Dr Michael Waldman and colleagues from Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management claim that children from rainy counties in the US watch more television. When autism rates are compared between rainy and drier counties, the relationship between high precipitation and levels of autism is positive.

The Cornell team also found that those counties that had earlier access to cable TV (in the 1970s and 1980s) also have higher diagnosis rates of autism. The team admits that their analysis is "not definitive" and more research needs to be done.

But before jumping to their causal conclusion, there is another factor to consider. Those with earlier access to cable TV also are more affluent and probably more status-conscious. Parents from such status-conscious communities may feel that having a child diagnosed with autism is better socially than having them diagnosed as mentally retarded. Their doctors know this and try to please them with the autism, not mental retardation, diagnosis.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.