Autism - Rain? Television?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by witzend, Nov 5, 2008.

  1. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

  2. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Well this undeniably interesting.

    It would also be interesting to look at OR/WA and their overall mental illness stats in combo with this study.

    For me personally, I know if I lived up there with all that rain - I might have even more mental health issues than I do now.
  3. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    FWIW, Oregon's Autism rates are the highest in the nation, and double the national average. There are 6 (out of 11) children on the autism scale on my street. Two of them are on the very severe end of the scale.
  4. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Witz, you must live in the western part of the state. I live east of the cascades, and it does not rain much at all over here.
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Yep, Rip City. If you look at the article, the maps show that the Autism rates are lower East of the Cascades.
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Very interesting...
    This ties in somewhat with a conversation I was having with difficult child's psychiatrist today. We were talking about the increase in mental illness the further north you go.

    I'm just sort of walking this through in my head...

    Incidences of mental illness are higher in places where there is a lack of exposure to sunlight. This would fit in with rainy climates as well as northern locations with extremely short days in the winter.

    A number of studies have also shown that people with mental illness seem to have a predisposition to have autistic children. of people who have mental illness from being in places with no sun...higher incidence of autism?

    I'm no scientist and I may be way off-base, but it kinda-sorta seems to make sense.

  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It makes an interesting preliminary study but it raises more questions than it answers:

    1) What diagnostic criteria are being used? Did the research team themselves assess the level of autism in the children in the subject or are they simply using statistics available? If they are just using prevalence levels, then one might consider an alternative correlation - doctors who live in a high rainfall area may have a greater tendency to diagnose autism...

    2) Is the study blinded? In other words, do the researchers know the rainfall amount/geographic locality of the children they are re-assessing for autism?

    3) I know from my own observations of difficult child 3 and his best friend (both diagnosed with autism) that they watched A LOT of television preferentially to playing outdoors. It has actually been a learning strategy used by them in terms of developing social skills and language.

    This is a correlation. Nothing more. We have to be very careful in understanding this before we can even begin to claim any connection at all, let alone any possible causality. Just because one research group has tentatively identified a possible link in terms of frequency doesn't mean that rain (or TV watching) causes autism. It may be that a parent having a greater opportunity of observing some of the more autistic-like behaviours of a child watching television, if it's raining outside.

    We have an autism incidence in Australia of one in 100. I don't think we could be classified as a high rainfall country.

    There are several directions now for this idea to be taken. Frankly, I would like to see it deliberately tested in an area known to be either of lower rainfall or high gradient rainfall. Sydney would be a good start - we get much more rain on the coastal strip than to the west; some of the outer areas to the west of Sydney are in rainfall shadow and yet looking at the contact list for the teens Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) group, there are a lot of home addresses in the rainfall shadow area.

    I feel that while ever there are differences in how autism is diagnosed; differences in how liberally of strictly the diagnostic criteria are interpreted; differences in understanding and distribution of medical experts capable of diagnosing autism; differences in the ability of the population in gaining access to a diagnosis; then there will continue to be interesting fluctuations like this in autism epidemiology. Crikey, it's hard enough in Australia to get a diagnosis, simply because of the difference in access to experts depending on where you live. And we have Medicare universally to help foot the bills. How much more inequitable is it going to be in a country without a universal health care system? And by that remark I do not want to start a debate - merely pointing out another possible variable to consider in this result.

    Summary - an interesting observation, it needs more consideration and wider exploration before it's considered to be causal.

  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Marg, it's a basis for a future funded study. They don't have the results yet.

    Edit Edit Edit...

    I wanted to edit this to say that it is a "preliminary study" rather than a "conclusive study".
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2008
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    One to watch. I'm cautious, is all. I've seen too many studies (on other topics too) which look sensational but on further examination have absolutely no substance to them.

    One good sign here is that the results were first published in peer-reviewed journal before the media got the story - a really good sign. It also opens the door for others to pick up the ball and run with it, to apply similar analyses to incidence data elsewhere in the world.

    I might send the link to ASPECT with a query about how we could test this in, say, Sydney Metropolitan. It would require a complex database to handle the necessary questionnaire - did the family always live where they do, or have they moved to be closer to special schools, doctors etc? Do we include moving families in the study or limit it to those who have stayed at the same address for the child's life? Do we re-assess the subjects for diagnosis or take the word of previous diagnosticians?

    It was an economist who did this study - which shows any of us could do this as long as we have enough understanding of the necessary statistical analyses.

  10. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I wonder if there are also more mold spores in these rainy areas that may be contributing to autism prevalence?
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Not just number of mould spores - but which types. I'm thinking of past records of witchcraft outbreaks coupled with incidence of ergot poisoning. Of course, it's hard to track back several hundred years but scientific method has changed a great deal too.

    So many possibilities... where to start? Maybe if the findings cannot be replicated elsewhere then someone can go in and work out why the results are like this in these areas but nowhere else? And if they can be replicated - ditto.

    I LIKE good science.

    Thanks for posting this link, Witz.

  12. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Well there are more cases of SAD that is for sure.
    The theory goes that people are happier in sunnier places... who knows. They say healthier also.
    Here in Tucson we are supposed to be healthy and happy!!! Great for aches and pains and over all mental attitude. I don't know if it applies if you are only born here, if you move here and when.
    I do know lots of elderly move here who have arthritis and Fibro or just don't feel good.
    It would be interesting to look at our Autism numbers and Mental Illness numbers.
  13. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Very interesting...I'd like to see where the research goes with this.
  14. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    MARG! You're BACK! (Yay!)

    I wonder if there's any like to Vitamin D deficiency...
  15. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    Oh, great--my difficult child dtr and difficult child boyfriend live in Seattle and have a newborn more thing to worry about! :(
  16. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    If you google Vit. D and mental illness, there's a wealth of info that pops up.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2008