A new study has found a strong correlation between autism and hours spent watching television by young children.
For all the theoretical mechanisms that (falsely) implicated thimerosal-containing vaccines, it turns out the culprit may be something even more familiar and seemingly benign than the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Ninety-eight percent of American households had at least one television in 2001.
The study, as summarized by Gregg Easterbrook at Slate:
“[…] the study has two separate findings: that having cable television in the home increased autism rates in California and Pennsylvania somewhat, and that more hours of actually watching television increased autism in California, Oregon, and Washington by a lot.”
Of course, even strong correlation is not a causal link. More investigation needs to be done by independent researchers. But in the meantime, I think it would be wise to heed the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and keep children under two away from the TV. They’re pretty sure it increases attention disorders, why risk autism too?