Monday, February 18, 2013

Can Autism Be Prevented?

Posting an article like this one makes me want to start a Twitter feed.

The reliable Emily Willingham has a great take-down of a piece on Fox News asking if autism can be prevented. I really can't give a full editorial on this, as she words this much better than I ever could. Essentially the main source, Robert Melillo, is on a PR campaign to promote brain balance, so it's a rather convenient argument for him. I know more than a few of us take issue with Fox News on their politics, but even on news like this, it's ridiculous.

Most of the “measures” remain hidden in the pages of this book–which you can purchase!–but the one the article cites? Prenatal vitamins. Raise your hand if you took prenatal horsepills before, during, and after pregnancy and still had a child with autism. Melillo seems to be referencing this paper but misinterpreting the odds ratio data. The authors note the limitations of their study here in the full text of the article, which included that it relied on maternal recall of vitamin intake around pregnancy, several years after the pregnancy. They also did not collect information on diet. So, sure, take your prenatal vitamin, but don’t do it because you think it’ll prevent autism.

I'll have a bigger blog keeper on the way this week about a big step towards a big accomplishment, and juggling tasks in light of this.

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