Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Autism in California

The article below is a bit amusing. Its conclusions about environmental causes of autism are of course pure speculation but the lack of self-awareness is the amusing part. It overlooks the fact that California is the world headquarters of fads. And illnesses can be very faddish. And autism does seem to be a current fad there. So you have a lot more cases of autism being diagnosed because it is fashionable to attribute any problem to it. Most of the kids concerned would probably once have been simply "naughty" or "shy"

A study by researchers at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute has found that the seven- to eight-fold increase in the number children born in California with autism since 1990 cannot be explained by either changes in how the condition is diagnosed or counted — and the trend shows no sign of abating. Published in the January 2009 issue of the journal Epidemiology, results from the study also suggest that research should shift from genetics to the host of chemicals and infectious microbes in the environment that are likely at the root of changes in the neurodevelopment of California’s children.

“It’s time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism in California,” said UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a professor of environmental and occupational health and epidemiology and an internationally respected autism researcher.

Hertz-Picciotto said that many researchers, state officials and advocacy organizations have viewed the rise in autism's incidence in California with skepticism. The incidence of autism by age six in California has increased from fewer than nine in 10,000 for children born in 1990 to more than 44 in 10,000 for children born in 2000. Some have argued that this change could have been due to migration into California of families with autistic children, inclusion of children with milder forms of autism in the counting and earlier ages of diagnosis as consequences of improved surveillance or greater awareness.

Hertz-Picciotto and her co-author, Lora Delwiche of the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences, initiated the study to address these beliefs, analyzing data collected by the state of California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) from 1990 to 2006, as well as the United States Census Bureau and state of California Department of Public Health Office of Vital Records, which compiles and maintains birth statistics.

Hertz-Picciotto and Delwiche correlated the number of cases of autism reported between 1990 and 2006 with birth records and excluded children not born in California. They used Census Bureau data to calculate the rate of incidence in the population over time and examined the age at diagnosis of all children ages two to 10 years old.

The methodology eliminated migration as a potential cause of the increase in the number of autism cases. It also revealed that no more than 56 percent of the estimated 600-to-700 percent increase, that is, less than one-tenth of the increased number of reported autism cases, could be attributed to the inclusion of milder cases of autism. Only 24 percent of the increase could be attributed to earlier age at diagnosis. “These are fairly small percentages compared to the size of the increase that we’ve seen in the state,” Hertz-Picciotto said.

Hertz-Picciotto said that the study is a clarion call to researchers and policy makers who have focused attention and money on understanding the genetic components of autism. She said that the rise in cases of autism in California cannot be attributed to the state’s increasingly diverse population because the disorder affects ethnic groups at fairly similar rates.

More here

Mouthwash cancer link not proven

If the scare were well-founded, Scotland should have an epidemic of oral cancer as it is a tradition there to drink spirits (whisky) neat and spirits also have a high concentration of alcohol

THERE is no definite proof that alcohol contained in mouthwash products can cause cancer, Australia's peak body representing dentists says. Concerns about excessive use of mouthwash exposing people to an elevated risk of oral cancer has been highlighted in an article in the current issue of the Dental Journal of Australia. The article concludes there is "sufficient evidence" that alcohol-contained mouthwashes contribute to an increased risk of development of oral cancer.

Neil Hewson from the Australian Dental Association said the study was "very interesting" but it "indicates there should be more research." "There's a link between drinking, heavy drinking, and cancer, so (there is) the possible link with long term multiple uses of alcohol contained in mouthwashes," Dr Hewson told ABC Television. "But it's not proven and you can't definitely say it is."

However, most people don't actually need mouthwash if they practise good brushing and flossing, he said. "So consult your dentist to see whether you are a high-risk group and (whether) you do need a mouthwash."



John A said...

About that mouthwash-with-alcohol "study" some credence (OK, about one part per billion, but still) may be given to what, according to the articles I have read, was the actual conclusion. Not that the alcohol caused cancer, but that it could cause existing lesions/wounds to be better able to take up other cancer-causing agents, such as nicotine-laden chewing tobacco.

Which it might - for a few seconds.

Of course, the danger is probably less than that presented by ingesting DHMO - aka Di-Hydrogen MonOxide, H2O, or water...

OFF TOPIC - "word verifiction" keeps getting better. Has always had some sort of actual word embedded, but for a while now has been constructed entirely of actual words, not a word with some added letters. For this post, "sauna+tin" - I suppose a sauna might well have a tin roof.

Anonymous said...

Not so much mouthwash as hogwash.