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Another potential cause of autism

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Wide White: Another potential cause of autism

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Another potential cause of autism

If you were hanging your hat on the now-debunked 1998 Wakefield study proving a link between autism and vaccinations and need a new silver bullet, a new study has come swooping in for the kill.

Okay, so it's a preliminary study, but still, this one says that spacing babies closer together results in higher rates of autism for the second baby born. Specifically, babies born less than 2 years apart apparently have shown significantly higher rates of autism than babies born more than 3 years apart.

Our next baby should be about 17 months younger than the twins, so of course we're freaking out and feeling like horrible parents for not spacing our next child out properly. We should have planned better! (Because these babies are very carefully orchestrated, planned events...)

If the thick sarcasm in the previous paragraph didn't get through, let me put it this way: this study doesn't change a thing for me.

Oh, it's interesting. I hope we find the cause of autism and maybe this study will reveal the importance of something like prenatal vitamins. But I can't help but wonder how many parents will intentionally space their children further apart out for fear of autism now. If a bogus study linking autism to vaccines could singlehandedly prevent parents from vaccinating their children, it's certainly not out of the question to expect people to start frowning on their friends whose children are spaced less than 2 years apart.

It's good to be aware. It's good to be educated. It's good to make informed decisions based on that awareness and education. But paranoia doesn't help anyone.

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Blogger watchman declared,

AS I have been chirping for years, the definition of autism covers far too much. The new DSM should fix this problem somewhat.

I wonder if parents should be scrutinized more than the kids. My argument goes like this:

- autism is too broadly defined
- simple behavioral problems sometimes get called autism
- second-born children tend to be more of a handful to parents
- children that are close in age are more of a handful to parents (more than one kid in diapers, competing for attention, etc.)

Therefore, some of these 'autistic' children may just be suffering a case of overextended parents. Because of the broad definition of autism, however, researchers come up with strange theories about connections to birth timing.

1/19/2011 12:53 PM  

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