TV and autism — let the debate begin

??Slate?? has an article on how TV might cause autism. It’s a good food for thought article, but should be read along with the comments.

Who knows whether TV has a role in autism. It probably does, to a small degree, just as thimerosal probably does, to a small degree (and probably in a relatively small subpopulation that’s especially sensitive). Autism is a complex disease that expresses uniquely in each individual, making it very challenging to study. That it seems to have a large genetic component doesn’t really make it any easier.

What I take away from this article is a reminder that babies’ brains are developing so much in the first few years that you need to consider carefully what you do that might influence the development.

Do you really want to have your toddler watching Barney?


2 Responses

  1. Laughable! And Shame on these “Economists”, not Scientists to again equate Autism to “Bad Parenting”. They only correlated the fact that regions with higher autism rates are equated to those regions with higher rain rates, thus children are inside more. Maybe rain causes autism, oh wait, that sounds stupid too. Can people stop passing this gossip around as truth. There is no correlation at all, never was, never will be. Lets spend the money donated for autism research on Scientific research, ont one by economists.

  2. Yeah, that’s pretty much the reaction I’ve seen from everybody except the media. My reaction is not as strong (perhaps because I don’t have as much emotionally invested as, say, Wade Rankin), but yeah, this is one paper that needs to be taken with a ton of salt, if for no other reason than it depends on a retrospective view of data, and the hypothesis doesn’t have much other support.

    At the same time, I do hope that people will be more wary of where their children get their education, because TV in excess does lead to a lot of problems, including perhaps some attention deficit.

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