KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

TV Plus Toddlers Equals Autism or AD/HD?

Cornell University researchers have reported a study which they say indicates that there is a "statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3" (layperson's explanation here). I think their findings are wrong.

I'm a parent of an almost-12-year-old boy with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ([AD/HD] diagnosed when he was 5), the wife of a man with AD/HD (diagnosed when he was 39), and the daughter-in-law of a man with AD/HD (diagnosed when he was 66); obviously, my husband's family carries a gene implicated in AD/HD. I tell you this because some researchers think that AD/HD is another point on the autism spectrum (here, here, here).

In 2004, a report on a study came out saying that it was possible that watching too much TV causes AD/HD; a report on another study came out this year refuting that hypothesis. Though I think that watching too much TV and watching it at an extremely young age are bad things, I have a very hard time believing that TV can cause either neurobehavioral disorder. The researchers in both studies have likely been tripped up by a factor that just happens to coexist with the rise in reported rates of AD/HD and autism, rather than a causative factor.

AD/HD and autism seem to be much more prevalent now than in the past in large part because parents are more aware of them now and more of them are getting their children's problems diagnosed and treated.

Research (for example, here, here, here) has already shown that specific genes can cause a child to be predisposed to developing AD/HD, and here's a story about other genes found to double a child's chance of developing autism. Yes, there are likely environmental causes, but genes seem to play the largest roles in these disorders.

Just wait; eventually a study will show that TV doesn't cause autism.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So can "cornhole university" explain why I know people who had A.D.D. all their lives, and lived in remote area's of the world with no electricity or TV?
Might as well blame ADD on Oxygen, Starlight, purified drinking water, and why not Tom Cruise as well?
Sigh...And if people believed that crap theory about TV & ADD, Can you imagine kid's mothers coming into their living room and saying "Now little Tommy, don't sit too close to that TV, or you'll get A.D.D."
Here is another angle:
I got ADD. So what if I'm in a televised broadcast? Will I infect the population with ADD? Or does that only apply to live transmissions? :]
-Year Zero

P.S. I think their findings are very wrong.

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