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Controversial study linking autism to rainfall

One of the dangers with topics like autism is the amount of information one can collect about the topic and deciding which is reliable information and which is manufactured.  Last week the USA Today reported a new study citing a link between autism and rainfall.  The study theorizes that areas with larger amounts of rainfall see higher autism rates in children.

The complete study, though published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, is not without its critics.  The Autism Society of America as well as Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, author and physician, both claim there is no direct relationship and the studies are flawed.  One of the study’s co-writers even professed deficiencies in the data in an article from the LA Times.

Although rainfall is the cited trouble maker, this is not meant to suggest that rain is the main culprit.  While the study does entertain the theory that rainfall brings pollutants back to the ground, it also suggests that high rainfall means kids spend more time indoors, watching TV, increasing exposure to household chemicals and toxins, and reducing their exposure to the sun and Vitamin D.

At issue with studies like this are those who may view these studies as fact.  In reality many of these studies are not conclusive and may lead people inadvertently down the wrong path.   It is strongly encouraged to investigate any studies such as this one to determine who researched the study, credentials of the team and their data reliability.  Again, in this case many pieces are preliminary with flawed date with no link between causality and correlation.  Hopefully this study will either lead to a more definitive answer or finding in the near future.

What do you think on this topic?  Have you read other pieces to this story?  Do studies like this help or hinder the autism community?  Are there additional steps that might be suggested before such findings are published?  Let us know what you think in our comments section below.

Comments (1)

  1. Shane wrote:

    We can only progress through isgnificant data collection. While this study may seem odd to some, it has the possibility of at least helping to understand potential contributors- not necessary direct causes. I believe many factors stimulate autism development to extremes (we all have hints of autism). The multiple factors and contributors to autistic types of development early on likely correlate to the significant differences and similiarities across the entire spectrum of autism. All data must be evaluated and put together in order to help solve this puzzle.

    Posted 13 Nov 2008 at 10:35 pm

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  1. From Autism and Rainfall Linked, Study Suggests | ProCPR Blog on 05 Nov 2008 at 12:38 pm

    [...] You can read some more commentary on this by Children’s Care. [...]

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