Monday, October 16, 2006

Could Early Television Viewing Be Linked To Autism?

"Transfixed" by Priyan Meewella

A new study published today by researchers at Cornell suggests a strong potential link between autism and TV-watching among children under three. Slate reports:
The researchers studied autism incidence in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington state. They found that as cable television became common in California and Pennsylvania beginning around 1980, childhood autism rose more in the counties that had cable than in the counties that did not. They further found that in all the Western states, the more time toddlers spent in front of the television, the more likely they were to exhibit symptoms of autism disorders.
The study (which was not peer-reviewed) corrected for a variety of factors but was unable to "filter-out" the potential effect merely being indoors might have on the incidence of autism, which is an almost universally coincidental variable, and the EPA recently warned that indoor air can be more hazardous than outdoor air. But the study offers an interesting alternative to the risk of infant vaccinations due to the presence of ethyl mercury in vaccination stocks (Slate reporter Gregg Easterbrook confidently states that thimerosal has been banned in U.S. vaccines, but the reality on the ground is much less clear), which has had an inconclusive research history and has been mired in controversy for years.

You can download the study from Cornell's website here.

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