Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Data Suggests Link Between Television Viewing and Autism

This one is sure to be controversial:

In a paper to be presented at a conference of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Oct. 20, in Cambridge, Mass., the authors reviewed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey on TV viewership rates among children and compared it with data from the National Climactic Data Center, which looks at the amount of precipitation communities receive. This analysis showed that children from rainy counties watch more television. When autism rates were then compared between rainy and drier counties, the relationship between high precipitation and levels of autism was positive.
"We tested our hypothesis using existing, well-known data," said Michael Waldman, a professor of economics at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management and a co-author of the research paper. "The analysis shows that early childhood television viewing could be an environmental trigger for the onset of autism and strongly points to the need for more research by experts in the field of autism."

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