Ultrasounds cause autism? Probably not... but let's freak out about it.
July 28, 2010 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Local TV news says: Based on his daughter having an ultrasound and grandson being autistic, doctor concludes that ultrasounds cause autism. This news story headline is: "Could autism be linked to ultrasounds?," fueling freak out fire. This is another example of correlation versus causation in the media, and in this story, based on speculation and no evidence. But what does the journal article say?

This is his claim:

In the framework of nitric oxide pathway activation, the presence of increased neurogenesis and abnormal neuronal migration in previous termautismnext term suggests an exogenous factor(s) which may target a window of vulnerability during corticogenesis, with disparate effects determined by precise timing of exposure. Given the multiple exposures pregnant women are subjected to nowadays [101] as well as deregulation for the last two decades, a prime candidate for this environmental agent is ultrasound. However, not only is the timing of NO activation vital in determining its specific effects on neurogenesis (hit #1 of the Triple Hit Hypothesis), but genetics likely play a combinatorial role in that ultrasound may exponentially perturb an already over-activated pathway...

Here's his evidence, which actually found no relationship between ultrasound and autism.

One study also investigated the immediate effects of pulsed ultrasound on fetal activity, observing increased gross body movements of the fetus following exposure [88]. More pertinent to previous termautism,next term however, Grether et al. [89] performed a retrospective case-control analysis of ultrasound exposure and risk of previous termautismnext term in children born between 1995 and 1999. The authors looked mostly at previous termautismnext term simplex families (families without multiple previous termautismnext term incidences), and analyzed both the number of exposures and the timing (trimester) in which the infant had been exposed. While they found no consistent relationship indicating ultrasound as a risk factor, given the design of the study a type II error may have occurred: while the significance of ultrasound in previous termautismnext term may not solely be related to number of exposures but an issue of timing, this study was unable to determine exposure according to precise landmarks of embryo- and fetal-genesis but instead grouped exposure times within a broad timescale, i.e., trimesters. Notably, the study used a mix of approaches to estimate gestational age at the time of scan, including various algorithms and reports of the mother’s last menstrual period. Because differences of only a few days may be sufficient to alter teratogenic outcome, imprecise methodology may cloud significant group variation.
posted by k8t (138 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
And his Wikipedia page
posted by k8t at 8:27 AM on July 28, 2010


*facepalm*
posted by Mick at 8:28 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, yes, the Science News Cycle.
posted by Madamina at 8:28 AM on July 28, 2010 [24 favorites]


I'm starting to wonder if the best predictive autism marker is having parents who are liable to freak out about things and make big national statements about autism to other panicky people.
posted by adipocere at 8:29 AM on July 28, 2010 [42 favorites]


How is it that a person can become a doctor without learning what is perhaps the basis of any rational thought?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:29 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


My mom didn't have an ultrasound (they thought I was a boy for 9 months!), and I don't have autism. IT MUST BE TRUE.
posted by phunniemee at 8:30 AM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


20th century: Everything causes cancer
21st century: Everything causes autism
posted by localroger at 8:30 AM on July 28, 2010 [18 favorites]


This sounds downright batty.
posted by geoff. at 8:31 AM on July 28, 2010


20th century: Everything causes cancer
21st century: Everything causes autism


That's silly. Cancer causes autism.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:32 AM on July 28, 2010 [19 favorites]


So, do news organizations really think that putting ANY CONTENT out is better than nothing? Is this a "rush to beat the other guy to the story" situation? I cannot stand the scientific illiteracy is the news media. I hate it, so much... it-it- the f - it -flam - flames. Flames, on the side of my face, breathing-

Oh god. This is my hometown. Does that make it my responsibility to go down there and knock some sense into Melissa Swan? And by 'knock some sense into' I mean 'point her towards a credible journalism school'.
posted by lholladay at 8:33 AM on July 28, 2010


I don't know much about autism, but I do know that ultrasound is a great tiger repellent.
posted by crunchland at 8:34 AM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Two favorite lines:

"Dr. Casanova began to sound his warning about ultrasounds after seeing photos of Bertrand at his daughter’s house."

"My daughter, when I told her about ultrasound, she told me ‘Why, Daddy, why didn't you tell me you always suspected it could be a risk factor? Why didn't you tell me?’”"
posted by k8t at 8:34 AM on July 28, 2010


Monday morning we had our 20 week ultrasound. (OMG YAY!) And he's awesome. (It's a he, btw, for anyone who answered my former AskMe question.)

Anyway---As she was getting the ultrasound, he was totally rocking out in there, waving and whatnot. The ultrasound tech was trying to get a side shot of his skull, but his hands were kind of on either side of his face, near his ears, and the ultrasound tech was kind of jigging the belly to get him to move, which he did, but then he put his hands back by his ears.

"That ultrasound is probably pretty loud in there", I said.
"DO YOU THINK SO?!?!? Said my lovely partner.
"Nope." I said. Silly girl, being all scared and not knowing.

So, to answer the question resolutely, I plan to ask him when he's 7.
posted by TomMelee at 8:34 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


In case it was bugging you like it was bugging me, here's the journal text with all the "previous term"/"next term" gibberish removed.
One study also investigated the immediate effects of pulsed ultrasound on fetal activity, observing increased gross body movements of the fetus following exposure [88]. More pertinent to autism, however, Grether et al. [89] performed a retrospective case-control analysis of ultrasound exposure and risk of autism in children born between 1995 and 1999. The authors looked mostly at autism simplex families (families without multiple autism incidences), and analyzed both the number of exposures and the timing (trimester) in which the infant had been exposed. While they found no consistent relationship indicating ultrasound as a risk factor, given the design of the study a type II error may have occurred: while the significance of ultrasound in autism may not solely be related to number of exposures but an issue of timing, this study was unable to determine exposure according to precise landmarks of embryo- and fetal-genesis but instead grouped exposure times within a broad timescale, i.e., trimesters. Notably, the study used a mix of approaches to estimate gestational age at the time of scan, including various algorithms and reports of the mother’s last menstrual period. Because differences of only a few days may be sufficient to alter teratogenic outcome, imprecise methodology may cloud significant group variation.
posted by iwhitney at 8:45 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dr. Casanova is a good supervillain name
posted by edgeways at 8:45 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Nope." I said. Silly girl, being all scared and not knowing.

Hee, hee, hee! Careful dad, you must wield your power wisely. Wait till you tell her that you got all the screws put in the crib. Er, you think. Wait, did you?
posted by cavalier at 8:46 AM on July 28, 2010


I live in Louisville, and this kind of dreck is par for the course, every night on every local channel. Not long ago, one of the "technology reporters" issued a five-alarm story about new online dangers, and in that story used phishing attacks and viruses interchangeably. It was painfully obvious that this tech expert did not in fact know the difference.
posted by jbickers at 8:46 AM on July 28, 2010


Now that I can actually read that text, I don't know that I see that quote as the best evidence. Seems to me it's saying "This study didn't find anything, but here are a number of errors that could have made that study inaccurate."
posted by iwhitney at 8:47 AM on July 28, 2010


iwhitney, exactly...
posted by k8t at 8:51 AM on July 28, 2010


100% of children with autism were born, therefore BIRTH CAUSES AUTISM!!!111!!!
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:52 AM on July 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


Be afraid -- very afraid of the thing we're going to tell you about... coming up next!
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:52 AM on July 28, 2010


Uh oh — wait until Jenny McCarthy gets ahold of this one.
posted by orange swan at 8:54 AM on July 28, 2010


Dr. Casanova is a good supervillain name

You're thinking of Casanova Frankenstein.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:54 AM on July 28, 2010


I don't know much about autism, but I do know that ultrasound is a great tiger repellent.

Suggesting that a lack of tigers causes autism is a very irresponsible claim to make.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:55 AM on July 28, 2010 [23 favorites]


A University of Louisville scientist who is making advances in autism research and treatment is sounding a new alarm.
...
His reasons for sounding the alarm are both scientific and deeply personal.
...
Now, though, Dr. Manuel Casanova, a noted research scientist at the University of Louisville, is sounding a warning about ultrasounds.
...
Dr. Casanova began to sound his warning about ultrasounds after seeing photos of Bertrand at his daughter’s house.


Melissa Swan is in desperate need of a thesaurus.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 8:56 AM on July 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


That's silly. Cancer causes autism.

I also have it on good authority that Virgo causes tuberculosis, and Gemini is responsible for rabies.

That's why I avoid astrology; just too damn dangerous.
posted by quin at 8:57 AM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


You're thinking of Casanova Frankenstein .

Well to be fair I was thinking of that character at first, but then set it aside and decided Dr. Casanova was good enough to stand alone.
posted by edgeways at 9:00 AM on July 28, 2010


Dr. Casanova is a good supervillain name

Casanova is an awesome comic.

Not really related to Vaccine Scare Mk2, I know. TBH All I have to say on that matter is "Sigh..." and "For fucks sake, really?".

Can we skip to the bit where the guy gets struck off for being an idiot and his supporters are all "they laughed at Galileo"?
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on July 28, 2010


Homer: Well, there's not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol is sure doing its job.
Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, sweetie.
Lisa: Dad, what if I were to tell you that this rock keeps away tigers.
Homer: Uh-huh, and how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work. It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: I see.
Lisa: But you don't see any tigers around, do you?
Homer: Lisa, I'd like to buy your rock.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:04 AM on July 28, 2010 [29 favorites]


Melissa Swan is in desperate need of a thesaurus.

A University of Louisville scientist who is making advances in autism research and treatment is babbling a new premonition.
...
His reasons for moaning the augury are both scientific and deeply personal.
...
Now, though, Dr. Manuel Casanova, a noted research scientist at the University of Louisville, is emitting a siren about ultrasounds.
...
Dr. Casanova began to shriek his trepidation about ultrasounds after seeing photos of Bertrand at his daughter’s house.


That is SO MUCH BETTER.
(Thanks, thesaurus.com!)
posted by phunniemee at 9:04 AM on July 28, 2010 [26 favorites]


So you're saying that dipshit parents will now avoid ultrasounds during pregnancy for fear of causing austism, thus leading to major increases in potentially fatal complications for both mother and child?

Savor it folks, for this is the miracle of natural selection in action.
posted by saladin at 9:04 AM on July 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Suggesting that a lack of tigers causes autism is a very irresponsible claim to make."

Let's compare autism rates in places with tigers vs no tigers!!
posted by amethysts at 9:11 AM on July 28, 2010


If correlation does not imply causation, why do we have graph paper? I mean seriously, if you don't think correlation implies causation, this guy is your patron saint because while he's found no correlation, but he's sticking to his hypothysis anyway!

Correlation does not EQUAL causation, but as r^2 gets very close to one you either have to conclude that:
1) One factor causes the other (or the two share a common cause).
2) You are an idiot.

I mean seriously, why would you not slam your hand in a car door other than the fact that it just happens to correlate really tightly with extreme pain?

And yes, if you throw enough data at the wall, you can probably find two unrelated things that will correlate very tightly for a while. You can also get heads ten times in a row if you flip a coin. Let me know how your data looks a few points down the road.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:11 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an actual scientist, who has dealt with students in 1st year medicine and seen MDs training to be consultants, I was consistently shocked with the amount of them who didn't understand the Scientific Method. I blame the methods by which many were taught...learning by rote is the way to pass exams, but not the way to practice medicine. 1st year students complained about having to do physics labs, when we were trying to show them the importance of evidence based reasoning.

It's a running "joke" amongst some, that many MDs think nothing of changing inconvenient data points. Usually, they turn out OK when the professor smells a rat and questions the datasets, but I've lost a lot of respect for consultants since.

Disclaimer: Despite this, there are a lot of competent and even excellent doctors out there, just not as many as I thought there were.
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 9:15 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, my wife is almost 8 months pregnant, and one of the women in her teaching credential program believes in this ultrasound bullshit. She also buys into all the old wives tales that stuff like: "If you get ugly during your pregnancy, that's because you're having a girl and she is stealing your beauty."

So, future kids of America: Not only do people not know how science works, they will also be your 3rd grade teacher.
posted by sideshow at 9:16 AM on July 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


why would you not slam your hand in a car door other than the fact that it just happens to correlate really tightly with extreme pain?

Because I actually understand the mechanism by which slamming my hand in a door injures it and don't need to do a statistical analysis of ambiguous potential causes?
posted by prefpara at 9:17 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh for fuck's sake.
posted by kbanas at 9:19 AM on July 28, 2010


Lol. Cavalier---I never actually refer to her as silly girl. Look at the next sentence where I say I will ask the child when he's 7, as though I don't know that he won't possibly know what happened in the womb at 7. I was making fun of me, lol. But yea---we're diving into all the bits and pieces now.

Another true story about birth paranoia: I know a university professor w/ dual PhD's, literature/religious studies, FWIW. She has done two paranoid things that surprised me: 1, when her son was born, she had him baptized by a friend who, like her, labels herself a feminist. I believe he was baptized something like "In the name of the love, the earth, and the goddess" or something. Then, she found out that the Presbytery had declared that all baptisms had to be "In the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost." She straight FREAKED OUT because she believed that, had her son died in the two years between, that he would have gone straight not to heaven, and that she had to get him rebaptized ASAP.

Then, in order to avoid teh autism, she skipped out on the Pertussis vaccine. Guess who got whooping cough at 10 months old and had to spend 3 months in the hospital?

I personally just sing to my fetus all the time---sometimes it's a little gangsta, cuz I want my boyeee to come out straight OG. Sometimes it's a little Ramones or Riverdales cuz boy's gotta keep it real. Often, it's some AC/DC because most likely he'll be short like his dad, and he needs to know that short guys (Angus ftw) can rock with their proverbial ... out.
posted by TomMelee at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Melissa Swan is in desperate need of a thesaurus.

No, he literally is sounding a warning. He has this old air-raid siren he bought on eBay. The neighbours are pissed.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:22 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The truly facepalming thing for me is that my best friend and I came up with this "theory" about five years ago as a parody of the vaccine nonsense. (Her oldest child is autistic.) We had a whole pseudoscientific babble explanation involving ultrasound waves and tiny ear canals and overstimulation at a time when the brain should be totally isolated from stimulation. We even joked about how her husband (who has a Ph.D. in CS) should publish a book on it, since he can legally put "Dr." in front of his name, and make millions.

Plus ca change, plus ca meme fucking chose.
posted by KathrynT at 9:24 AM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Uh oh — wait until Jenny McCarthy gets ahold of this one.

Oh, she already has. It looks like Dr. Casanova was a speaker at the Generation Rescue conference back in March. They truly are on the cutting edge of quack Autism hypotheses.
posted by lexicakes at 9:28 AM on July 28, 2010


And his Wikipedia page

Second sentence of the Wikipedia page: "Casanova earned his medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico."

Aaaaaaannnnd ... that's where I stopped reading.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:31 AM on July 28, 2010


Wait, I thought her thing was that autism doesn't exist?
posted by Artw at 9:31 AM on July 28, 2010


Second sentence of the Wikipedia page: "Casanova earned his medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico."

Aaaaaaannnnd ... that's where I stopped reading.


Why is that?
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:32 AM on July 28, 2010


fueling freak out fire. This is another example of correlation versus causation in the media, and in this story, based on speculation and no evidence.

This post is problematically editorial. Flagged.
posted by serazin at 9:34 AM on July 28, 2010


I personally just sing to my fetus all the time---sometimes it's a little gangsta, cuz I want my boyeee to come out straight OG. Sometimes it's a little Ramones or Riverdales cuz boy's gotta keep it real. Often, it's some AC/DC because most likely he'll be short like his dad, and he needs to know that short guys (Angus ftw) can rock with their proverbial ... out.

You're going to be an awesome dad.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:35 AM on July 28, 2010


By the way ... autistic-like behaviors have been noticed throughout human history. Autism, the term, started being used around the 1910s - 20s.

Ultrasound started being used for human internal imaging in the late 1940s.

Just saying...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:37 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This post is problematically editorial. Flagged.

WTF? Is that a joke?
posted by KathrynT at 9:39 AM on July 28, 2010


I'm trying to stay away from baby health sites and the like for the time being. Just like any WebMD search tells you you have cancer and any local news health story can convince you you have the bird flu, a lot of those sites can convince you of the inevitability of autism because you used a plastic straw once when you were five.

These sites are very hard to avoid, especially as we have a lot of downtime in the hospital right now (6lb 14oz 4:21am this morning. Mom and Westley are doing fine.) so basically my tired mind is looking for any reason to freak out.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:41 AM on July 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


I think it's shit, but let me me put forward this hypothesis.

We know the vaccination bullshit is not only dangerous to its proponents but to the larger populace due to herd immunity issues.

Ultrasound, however, when one doesn't receive it, what's the worst that can happen? Not knowing the gender of a child? Not knowing potential defects? That affects the individual, yes? Compared to immunization which affects the community at large...

So, in terms of a pure harm reduction, shouldn't we, at the very least, hope that the immunization idiots drop the vaccine bullshit, and move on to this as their topic dujour?

I know, that's wishful thinking, but it's one thing I'd hope - I'd MUCH rather they hang onto this bullshit which would affect fewer people, than the one that will end up endangering more of the population. (of course pseudoscience is still pseudoscience and should be fought against - but let's at least admit that this is the lesser of two evils and hope that maybe some idiots shift towards it???)
posted by symbioid at 9:46 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I personally just sing to my fetus all the time---sometimes it's a little gangsta, cuz I want my boyeee to come out straight OG. Sometimes it's a little Ramones or Riverdales cuz boy's gotta keep it real. Often, it's some AC/DC because most likely he'll be short like his dad, and he needs to know that short guys (Angus ftw) can rock with their proverbial ... out.

You should seriously add some Cher or Madonna or even some Indigo Girls into your fetus playlist. Just in case, you know?
posted by hippybear at 9:49 AM on July 28, 2010


Second sentence of the Wikipedia page: "Casanova earned his medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico."

Aaaaaaannnnd ... that's where I stopped reading.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:31 AM on July 28 [+] [Flagged]
Why? Their medical school is fully accredited by US accreditors (and accreditrixes), they seem to have plenty of funding and a modern campus... is it all the Puerto Ricans that turn you off?
posted by jtron at 9:51 AM on July 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


So, do news organizations really think that putting ANY CONTENT out is better than nothing?

They seem to deliberately frame anything in terms of a binary conflict, to create the drama that brings viewers back to pump up ad rates. No truth required.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:53 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Suggesting that a lack of tigers causes autism is a very irresponsible claim to make.

Less than 1% of pregnant women eaten by tigers go on to give birth to autistic children.

You can trust me - I've done the research. I searched the Daily Mail archives and everything!
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ultrasound, however, when one doesn't receive it, what's the worst that can happen? Not knowing the gender of a child? Not knowing potential defects? That affects the individual, yes?

The worst that could happen is the death of both mother and child. Ultrasounds are used to check position and presentation of the fetus as well as whether they are even alive.

Ultrasounds are clearly overused nowadays, but the last thing we need is some nutjobs screaming that they lead to autism and pushing women to avoid medically necessary ultrasounds in the name of "preventing autism."
posted by dw at 10:03 AM on July 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Now that I can actually read that text, I don't know that I see that quote as the best evidence. Seems to me it's saying "This study didn't find anything, but here are a number of errors that could have made that study inaccurate."
posted by iwhitney at 8:47 AM on July 28 [+] [!]


iwhitney, exactly...
posted by k8t at 8:51 AM on July 28 [+] [!]


k8t, I think you may want to read that again carefully.
posted by stefanie at 10:03 AM on July 28, 2010


I wouldn't go blaming his medical training or anything for this nonsense.

In reality, this is very sad. He sounds like he's grieving and in pain, and he feels like he should have been able to prevent what happened to his grandson, and that his family might have expected him to have been able to as well. Very sad.
posted by anniecat at 10:04 AM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ultrasound, however, when one doesn't receive it, what's the worst that can happen? Not knowing the gender of a child? Not knowing potential defects? That affects the individual, yes? Compared to immunization which affects the community at large...

Any quackery that family members get a hold of will result in irritating judgmental conversations for a long time.
posted by mkb at 10:04 AM on July 28, 2010


The quack-filled University of Puerto Rico is accredited by the same quack organization that accredits such quack medical institutions as Johns Hopkins and Harvard.
posted by dw at 10:07 AM on July 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Tigers don't prevent autism, the just help raise awareness about it.
posted by orme at 10:11 AM on July 28, 2010


So, in terms of a pure harm reduction, shouldn't we, at the very least, hope that the immunization idiots drop the vaccine bullshit, and move on to this as their topic dujour?

I would love so much for this to happen, but it won't. The wackaloons over at Generation Rescue have been blogging about this ultrasound thing since at least 2008, and the have not eased their anti-immunization stance since then. They seem to believe that there is no single cause of autism, but rather, a whole host of environmental (but obviously not genetic!) causes. This is just one more environmental cause to them.

I think the best strategy really is to knock down everything they throw out there, so that people who are on the fence about it can at least get some decent information. If we allow this one (relatively harmless) delusion to pass without commenting on it, it will lend some credibility to that delusion, which could then extend to the whole movement.
posted by lexicakes at 10:16 AM on July 28, 2010


Correlation does not EQUAL causation, but as r^2 gets very close to one you either have to conclude that:
1) One factor causes the other (or the two share a common cause).
2) You are an idiot.


When people say that, they generally are implying the bolded explanation, often in response to people saying things like "Neighborhoods with black populations have higher crime rates."
posted by empath at 10:17 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


re: what are ultrasounds good for

When we first realized we were pregnant---I guess I should stop saying we---SHE had some spotting, so we went to the doctor. They did an ultrasound at 5 weeks to make sure everything was hunky dory. It was, but no heartbeat, so we went back at 7 weeks, and there it was, merrily pumping away. Had it not been, it would have been an invasive removal of a spontaneous abortion that could have seriously damaged the mom if left alone.

On this Monday when we went back, holy CRAP it was like getting slapped with a herring. I didn't realize AT ALL how high resolution the scan is. I mean, he's 12 ounces. That's like...a can of coke.(ok, I know, a fl.oz. is a measure of volume not mass, but still---he's tiny) But already at 20 weeks we could clearly see 10 metatarsals and 10 metacarpals and that his whole spine is inside his body, and all the bits are there where they're supposed to be, and that his little bladder is there, and his heart and lungs, and they're all connected...we could see the growth plates forming in the skull and the lobes of the brain inside the cavity. We could see his little lips moving. When she asked us if we wanted to know the gender, we said yes, and when she moved the sensor he was like "BADOW, check out my package!", there was certainly no confusing that part.

This was all kind of very awesome for me, as someone who works primarily with people with serious disabilities like Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, etc. I breathed a quiet sign of relief when I was able to see that his cord was inside the column and inside his body.

Oh...and he'll be whatever he chooses to be, but a sterotype he will not be, Cher and Indigo girls not withstanding. He does get a fair dose of Tori and Susanne Vega from his mom though. ::::shudder::::
posted by TomMelee at 10:17 AM on July 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


No, he literally is sounding a warning. He has this old air-raid siren he bought on eBay. The neighbours are pissed.

Little known fact: Dr. Casanova also invented the vuvuzela.

"THIS NOISE CAUSES AUTISM! BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!"
posted by dirigibleman at 10:19 AM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Now I wish my campus had more ducks.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:21 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


She also buys into all the old wives tales that stuff like: "If you get ugly during your pregnancy, that's because you're having a girl and she is stealing your beauty."

I was amazed at how many people told me that crying is good for babies' lungs.

The worst that could happen is the death of both mother and child. Ultrasounds are used to check position and presentation of the fetus as well as whether they are even alive.

What he said. It seems like ultrasound would be used to detect conditions like placenta previa, which you would surely want to detect and prepare for.

In parts of the world where ultrasound is unavailable, it is not uncommon to confirm the diagnosis with an examination in the surgical theatre.

Yeah, I'll take ultrasound over *surgery on a pregnant woman's stomach*
posted by mrgrimm at 10:24 AM on July 28, 2010


I had ultrasounds on my neck. Anyone know when teh autisms will start?
posted by cjorgensen at 10:26 AM on July 28, 2010


An ultrasound helped my doctor determine that my six-week pregnancy was ectopic and therefore not viable. Aside from needing to know about the viability, ectopuic pregnancies can be dangerous so knowing about them early is important.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:27 AM on July 28, 2010


I don't know much about autism, but I do know that ultrasound is a great tiger repellent.

nope
posted by pyramid termite at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2010


I had an ultrasound on my testicles. The left one is a little socially awkward, but ok, while the right has trouble with high-sensory situations.
posted by SNWidget at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


They seem to believe that there is no single cause of autism, but rather, a whole host of environmental (but obviously not genetic!) causes.

I'm not very well versed in the movement. What do they think of toxic overload, i.e. aluminum, heavy metals, phthalates, parabens, BPA, etc? That seems like an obvious source of investigation (although difficult to do anything about).

More curiously, what do they think of television? I am simply amazed at how much television and video content children under 3 watch. The APA recommends exactly ZERO television for kids under 2 ... yet I see all kinds of babies and kids that age watching TV.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:32 AM on July 28, 2010


By the way ... autistic-like behaviors have been noticed throughout human history. Autism, the term, started being used around the 1910s - 20s.

Ultrasound started being used for human internal imaging in the late 1940s.


Oh my God, the ultrasound waves are traveling backwards in time! We have to turn the machines off before they make all the dinosaurs autistic!
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:33 AM on July 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


If we're sharing, I had an ultrasound on my entire upper body after I was in a bad bicycle crash and broke my acetabulum and olecranon. They wanted to make sure there was no considerable internal bleeding.

If I wasn't in excruciating pain and dreaded whatever they were going to find, it would have been pretty damn cool to see all my organs and shit.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:35 AM on July 28, 2010


This is absurd. My mom had ultrasounds for me and I BABABABABABABA
posted by Legomancer at 10:35 AM on July 28, 2010


Huh, this is... plausible...

Ultrasounds are not toys and diagnostic levels of ultrasound have known dangers which can potentially do damage in fetal development which is an extremely delicate process. The hypothesis that sound is important in cellular communication is reasonable and sound at the decibel level used diagnostically can create heat and pressure differentials in biological tissue. Here is a paper you will hear cited a lot related to observed damage in mouse brain development

Cassanova's research has found that autism is correlated with the kinds of gross morphological damage folks have been suspecting as possible from ultrasound overuse for a long time. Hopefully one of the large European studies of early development, which finally shut down any possibility of taking the MMR fuckers seriously, recorded ultrasound data by accident and can be adapted to address this hypothesis.

Just because he has found a journalist who doesn't care if he knows what he is talking about doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't. If anyone is interested in RTFA or a related one, memail me with an e-mail address.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:39 AM on July 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


This thread is another reason I love MetaFilter! Thanks, y'all!
posted by Xoebe at 10:42 AM on July 28, 2010


This sounds downright batty.

I see what you did there.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:45 AM on July 28, 2010


MeTa
posted by zizzle at 10:48 AM on July 28, 2010


Xoebe: This thread is another reason I love MetaFilter! Thanks, y'all!

Is it the racism the loud noise, or the pride in a lack of critical thinking?
posted by Blasdelb at 10:52 AM on July 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


There's some fun with numbers in that article. 1 in 110 sounds much scarier than <1%.
posted by ob at 10:59 AM on July 28, 2010


Congratulations and mazel tov, robocop is bleeding!

It seems like ultrasound would be used to detect conditions like placenta previa, which you would surely want to detect and prepare for.

Yep. The ultrasound I had early in pregnancy detected placenta previa, and so when I had an episode of bleeding at 20 weeks the cause was immediately known. Ultrasounds also detected when the placenta started to break up at around 36 weeks, so that I could be induced shortly afterwards. My son was born healthy. Thanks, ultrasound!
posted by jokeefe at 11:06 AM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


20th century: Everything causes cancer
21st century: Everything causes autism


The 21st century clearly causes autism.
posted by aught at 11:11 AM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I thought autism was caused by distant, chilly mothers, yeah?
posted by everichon at 11:15 AM on July 28, 2010


As a general rule, any media story that is phrased as a question, the answer is a resounding NO!

This principle can be independently verified by reading the Daily Mail
posted by quarsan at 11:21 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I had ultrasounds on my neck. Anyone know when teh autisms will start?"

Looks like it has started already.
posted by Mitheral at 11:25 AM on July 28, 2010


Autism is caused by teh kittehs!
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on July 28, 2010


I had an ultrasound with my middle kid.

She is not autistic.

Didn't have one with the first and the last one.

They are not autistic either.

Nor have I seen any tigers.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:31 AM on July 28, 2010


Do we even record the number of tigers present at hospital births? I mean I assume doulas and midwives do.
posted by everichon at 11:36 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


So wait. NOT finding anything significant allows me to draw the conclusion that I was right after all, given the possibility of Type II error? Why didn't anyone tell me? And here I have been throwing out any results that didn't meet the 95% probability requirement. Man I would have a lot more publications to my name if I would have just said "Damn the statistics! You bastards know I'm right!"

Also, the writer of that article used the term "everyday*" which makes me want to STAB STAB STAB. It's TWO FUCKING WORDS PEOPLE. Christ.

*as in "everyday, something happens", not as in "it was an everyday occurrence" which is of course fine.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:41 AM on July 28, 2010


Autism? Maybe it's hereditary (if both parents are idiots, then there's a good chance the child will be autistic). The behavior of many parents of autistic children supports that claim.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:52 AM on July 28, 2010


Legomancer: "This is absurd. My mom had ultrasounds for me and I BABABABABABABA"

Yeah, that's a pretty dick move.
posted by ShawnStruck at 12:26 PM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the first link: Casanova published a report earlier this year in the journal “Medical Hypothesis,” spelling out his concerns of ultrasounds.


I just forwarded this to my husband (a boffin) who was skeptical - in a guarded fashion - and he showed to another (neuro) boffin - who was also skeptical, also in guarded fashion - but then the second boffin looked more carefully at the story in the first link and said: "Not that fucking journal again!".

So here's wiki:

Medical Hypotheses is a medical journal published by Elsevier and intended to provide a forum for unconventional ideas without the traditional filter of scientific peer review. According to the journal's website, it publishes "radical ideas, so long as they are coherent and clearly expressed" and "interesting and important theoretical papers that foster the diversity and debate upon which the scientific process thrives."[1] Submitted papers are not sent to other scientists for review, but are chosen instead by the journal's editor-in-chief based on whether he considers the submitted work interesting and important. The journal's policy places full responsibility for the integrity, precision and accuracy of publications on the authors, rather than peer reviewers or the editor.[2] Medical Hypotheses is the only Elsevier journal not to practice peer review.[3]

The journal's lack of peer review,[4] publication of ideas that are considered clear pseudoscience[5] (including AIDS denialism[6]), as well as potentially racist[7] has attracted considerable criticism, including calls to remove it from PubMed, the prestigious United States National Library of Medicine online journal database.[5]

posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:27 PM on July 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


I don't know much about autism, but I do know that ultrasound is a great tiger repellent.

How do you get close enough to get the jelly on their belly?
posted by educatedslacker at 12:31 PM on July 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


So, somewhere is a multi-variant survey of ultrasounds across a massive amount of data. And the only (minor) correlation they found was that your baby was more like to be left-handed when there were three or more ultrasounds (if memory serves.)

I think we can easily dismiss this as a probable coincidence.

No other weak or strong correlations were found.

There is no link between autism and ultrasounds, immunizations or the father being a bass player in a Led Zeppelin cover band.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:37 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]



Oh, and educatedslacker wins the fucking internet.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:39 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


clvrmnky: So, somewhere is a multi-variant survey of ultrasounds across a massive amount of data. And the only (minor) correlation they found was that your baby was more like to be left-handed when there were three or more ultrasounds (if memory serves.)

Could you cite that for us?
posted by Blasdelb at 12:46 PM on July 28, 2010


More curiously, what do they think of television? I am simply amazed at how much television and video content children under 3 watch. The APA recommends exactly ZERO television for kids under 2 ... yet I see all kinds of babies and kids that age watching TV

I should mention that my knowledge of the biomed/anti-vax movement comes mostly from reading Age of Autism, which is the blog of Generation Rescue. I know they don't speak for all biomed loons, but the blog seems to be a pretty good way to find out what these people actually think.

Anyway, this is an interesting question. In all the raving about toxins (yes, everything is poison, and surely causing autism RIGHT NOW!), I don't see a lot of fingers pointing at things like TV or other non-chemical environmental exposures (like video games). The folks in this movement tend to think that everything is a Big Pharma conspiracy. The mercury, aluminum, whatever other toxin, all comes from drugs that Big Pharma is pushing on our children. I just don't think TV is a scary enough bogeyman for them.

In my totally non-expert opinion, that TV study is kind of an interesting correlation, but I don't think it is a good explanation for the cause of autism (thought it could have an impact on the severity of autism?). There have been a few studies that demonstrate that symptoms of autism can be detected between 6-12 months of age (Here's a good summary by Steve Novella). I doubt there are a lot of infants out there watching tons of TV.
posted by lexicakes at 12:52 PM on July 28, 2010


I was in a bad bicycle crash and broke my acetabulum and olecranon.

Man, that sounds almost as painful as when I broke my chronosynclastic infundibulum and severely bruised my praxis.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:02 PM on July 28, 2010


A PS to my last comment about the journal "Medical Hypotheses". (I noticed the first link gave the title as "Medical Hypothesis" - but I've checked. That was just a typo/error in the original story.)

The same (neuro) boffin I quoted also mentioned other problems at this journal.
From the ScienceInsider website (May 17) of the journal, Science:

Bruce Charlton, the editor of the controversial journal Medical Hypotheses, was fired last week by publisher Elsevier for refusing to overhaul the review procedures at the journal. Now, a majority of the 19-member Editorial Advisory Board seems set to quit as well, says William Bains, one of Charlton's staunchest defenders and a member of the board. Elsevier has started a search for a replacement editor. It will also go ahead with the implementation of a system of peer review, which the journal has never had.

Charlton got in trouble after publishing a controversial paper by Peter Duesberg, the University of California, Berkeley, virologist who challenges the idea that AIDS is caused by the human immunideficiency virus. After a storm of criticism from AIDS scientists and activists, Elsevier permanently expunged the paper from the medical literature, along with an Italian paper on HIV that had also drawn fire. The publisher also gave Charlton an ultimatum: agree to start implementing peer review by 11 May, or resign. Charlton did neither, and, he says, last week, while on vacation, he received a letter terminating his contract.


posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:02 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I worry that Ultrasounds will confuse the fetus' natural sonar and cause them to beach themselves en masse.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:16 PM on July 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


@Blasdelb, I can try to find the citation, but this was an off-hand story from our midwife that we thought was funny.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:22 PM on July 28, 2010


Let's compare autism rates in places with tigers vs no tigers!!

So...Kenya and Norway?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:24 PM on July 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've interviewed Dr. Casanova and this does not sound like him-- or rather, he's being made out to be much more wacky than I think he is. He published this in Medical Hypotheses, which is a deliberately speculative non-peer-reviewed journal, for um, generating hypotheses not making conclusions. He's also published in many legitimate journals. It seems to me like the TV station just edited out all his caveats.

He's quoted as complaining about the lack of regulation of ultrasounds -- "even if they have nothing to do with autism"-- therefore, he doesn't rigidly believe that they do. This is empirically testable and there's no reason not to do so. Probably false-- but so are most hypotheses about the cause of autism so far.
posted by Maias at 1:30 PM on July 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Another fishy data point: Dr. Casanova became concerned after his grandson was diagnosed with Rett syndrome? But Rett syndrome is quite clearly a genetic disorder...
posted by greatgefilte at 1:51 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]



I've interviewed Dr. Casanova and this does not sound like him-- or rather, he's being made out to be much more wacky than I think he is. He published this in Medical Hypotheses, which is a deliberately speculative non-peer-reviewed journal, for um, generating hypotheses not making conclusions. He's also published in many legitimate journals. It seems to me like the TV station just edited out all his caveats.


What the good folks at Exxon Mobil and company have learned that Philip Morris and company never did is that what you really need to do to discredit good science is not to oppose it, but instead to encourage uncritical support.

I work in research in a field that was largely discredited by quacks and magically thinking idiots back in the twenties and thirties; and we're still feeling the damage.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:51 PM on July 28, 2010


There are tigers in Kenya?
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 2:43 PM on July 28, 2010


In all the raving about toxins (yes, everything is poison, and surely causing autism RIGHT NOW!), I don't see a lot of fingers pointing at things like TV or other non-chemical environmental exposures (like video games).

They also don't talk about genetics. As a father of a child diagnosed with Autism, I believe Autism has a genetic component.

And that's why, imho, what drives so many of the anti-vax loons. They're looking for someone to blame. Someone other than themselves.
posted by cjets at 2:44 PM on July 28, 2010


I work in research in a field that was largely discredited by quacks and magically thinking idiots back in the twenties and thirties; and we're still feeling the damage.

Is it. . . . Ghostbusters 2?
posted by The Bellman at 3:05 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I work in research in a field that was largely discredited by quacks and magically thinking idiots back in the twenties and thirties; and we're still feeling the damage.

The Bellman: "Is it. . . . Ghostbusters 2?"

Bacteriophage therapy, though I do wish we got to run around with cool looking vacuum cleaners
posted by Blasdelb at 3:26 PM on July 28, 2010


I thought that was vaguely respectable again post coldwar?

(Also you make happy slime and therefore the answer *is* Ghostbusters 2)
posted by Artw at 4:09 PM on July 28, 2010


Casanova studies mini-columns in the cortex and is undoubtedly aware of the genetics of autism and Rett syndrome. In fact, if I recall correctly, one of his papers looks at the mini-columns in the post-mortem brains of non-autistic scientists (at least not diagnosed on the spectrum, anyway) and found similarities to those in autistic brains. There are more of these mini-columns and they are hyper-connected, which could give rise to a brain that learns well but is overwhelmed easily by sensory information.

If one twin is autistic, his identical twin will be autistic 60% of the time and have some autism spectrum features 90% of the time-- for fraternal, this is only true 4.5% of the time. So, clearly, it is not 100% genetics-- there's some environmental something going on.

That something is not vaccines: no data supports this idea. It could be, as Mefi's own Steve Silberman proposed in Wired, that more people with autistic traits-- perhaps brought together by the internet-- have mated with each other recently, thus producing a real rise in autism that looks environmental but is instead due to the facilitation of assortative mating by the net. Ie, the "geek mating" hypothesis.

It could also be that the supposed increase is due simply to diagnostic shifts-- more kids who were just "geeky" now get the Asperger's label and more kids who were once diagnosed as mentally retarded are instead getting what is seen as a "better" label of autism.

Either way, unless Casanova very recently went off the rails, I think that the jeers should go to the media, not him.
posted by Maias at 4:31 PM on July 28, 2010


Worst whooping cough outbreak in California in 50 years:
California health officials say the main health danger is to babies, who have no natural defences against whooping cough and are the most likely to die from the illness.

Officials say the only way to protect babies is to vaccinate everyone around them.
6 babies have died so far. Fuck you, Jenny McCarthy.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:32 PM on July 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


Are you worried about virulence factors carried on phages, Blasdelb?

I presume pathogenic bacteria would add these to phages to increase their (the bacteria) rate of transmission to other hosts, and/or to encourage host immune responses to the phages themselves.
posted by jamjam at 4:38 PM on July 28, 2010


They also don't talk about genetics. As a father of a child diagnosed with Autism, I believe Autism has a genetic component.
And that's why, imho, what drives so many of the anti-vax loons. They're looking for someone to blame. Someone other than themselves.


This. My son finally recieved his official diagnosis yesterday: Autism. I spent much of the night tossing and turning. I probably would have slept a bit better if I had a "big bad" to blame it on, but I've got too many oddballs in my family for it to be anything but genetic (that, and the fact that I was a social outcast by age nine because I freely shared my interest in ancient egyptian funerary practices, spontaneous human combustion and multiple personality disorder with anyone who would listen to me).
posted by echolalia67 at 4:46 PM on July 28, 2010


They also don't talk about genetics. As a father of a child diagnosed with Autism, I believe Autism has a genetic component.

Yeah, I kind of mentioned that in a previous comment. Autism certainly does have a genetic component, which Generation Rescue frequently tries to downplay. They even make attempts to discredit research into the genetic causes of autism. This seems like an odd strategy for a group that is so dedicated to discovering the cause of (and cure for) autism, huh?

You're absolutely right about wanting someone to blame (usually Big Pharma) other than themselves. I think the other half of this is the obsession with curing autism. If autism is simply caused by a few inherited genes, how will we ever cure it? If autism is caused by mercury or gluten intolerance, then it can be cured with chelation and special diets. If it's caused by ultrasound, it can at least be prevented.
posted by lexicakes at 4:59 PM on July 28, 2010


My mother ate a Slim-Jim, and then later my sister was born. Could Slim-Jims (tm) cause pregnancies? Film at 11 -
posted by newdaddy at 5:21 PM on July 28, 2010


People who work with Rett Syndrome know that it is not an Autism Spectrum Disorder, regardless of what the DSM-4 says. True - it has in common skill regression, limited social reciprocity, and stereotyped movements, but it is not autism. In fact, I believe that classification is to be corrected in the DSM-5. Also, the fact that his grandSON has Rett and is not dead already and conceivably still intact enough for there to be confusion about an autism diagnosis is pretty god damned incredible, considering the rarity of the disorder and the even more staggering rarity of boys who live to manifest it.

Why is he wasting his time on this nonsense?
posted by lilnublet at 5:34 PM on July 28, 2010


I'm sorry for the derail jamjam but,

I work with E. coli O157:H7 which is harmful as a result of pathogenicity island, or virulence factor, contained within a prophage incorporated into its genome, we are well aware of the potential. The traditional solution in the former Soviet Union is to use a phage isolation protocol that biases so strongly towards obligately lytic phages that they simply don't worry about it. However, most Western companies are either sequencing each of their phage ($3,000 - $5,000 / phage) and checking for integrase genes or simply using T4 a well characterized and extremely lytic family of phage.

Any immune response to the phage themselves is naturally dependent on the way the phage is administered. An adverse reaction has yet to be described from orally and anally administered phage, and that makes sense, therapeutic cocktails rarely use a higher concentration of phage particles than is environmentally present in seawater (~5 x 10^8 / mL). I have seen immune reactions described for phage cocktails used as a compliment to wound debriedment, though there are surgeons in Gori, Georgia with decades of experience who have written up protocols which minimize risk. Pulmonary applications of phage in CF patients appear to not provoke reactions. Big DNA in Scotland relies on their phage provoking an immune reaction intramuscularly as part of their phage based vaccines, where dendritic cells endocytose phage, express the custom antigen encoded in the phage DNA and present it to the immune system. Finally, I have seen papers and meeting abstracts from the former Soviet Union for intravenous applications where immune reactions ranging from flush to "moderate" fever were described after a second application, this scares the shit out of me and would never fly in the US or Europe, but has been tested.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:39 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Correlation does not EQUAL causation, but as r^2 gets very close to one you either have to conclude that:
1) One factor causes the other (or the two share a common cause).
2) You are an idiot.


There's an absolutely perfect, unassailable, statistically perfect correlation that people who drink water eventually die.

So either one factor causes the other or I'm an idiot.
posted by Talez at 8:20 PM on July 28, 2010


Also,

Correlation does not EQUAL causation, but as r^2 gets very close to one you either have to conclude that:
1) One factor causes the other (or the two share a common cause).
2) You are an idiot.

posted by Blasdelb at 8:45 PM on July 28, 2010


So...Kenya and Norway?

You know, I love this to pieces (I am now physically incapable of saying "Norway " without following it with "more like SNOREway!"), but it has always bugged me that there are in fact NOT tigers in Kenya.

Kenya believe it!
posted by naoko at 8:48 PM on July 28, 2010


Once a nurse had me self-administer a vaginal ultrasound in the ER whilst catheterized and hooked up to an IV. This involved an ultrasound sensor that essentially looks like a dildo with a condom on it to complete the effect. My boyfriend of several months was sitting next to me for moral support (I nearly lost it when they took a good 10 minutes of jabbing to figure out the catheter) and trying to ignore everyone congratulating him on my pregnancy (wasn't pregnant).

If that doesn't give me (or him) autism I don't know what will.
posted by emilyd22222 at 9:48 PM on July 28, 2010


Ultrasound started being used for human internal imaging in the late 1940s.

Dunno about the history of the technology itself, but it wasn't routinely used for obstetrics until the late 70s.
posted by desuetude at 10:16 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Correlation does not EQUAL causation, but as r^2 gets very close to one you either have to conclude that:
1) One factor causes the other (or the two share a common cause).
2) You are an idiot.
"

In baseball, getting a hit and getting on base are highly correlated, but while one can cause the other, it doesn't necessarily.
posted by klangklangston at 11:47 PM on July 28, 2010


As much as I think the link is weak (and that's saying it nicely) I agree with this.
“Ultrasounds shouldn't be done just for fun,” Dr. King said. “There shouldn't be keepsake images done. There shouldn't be ultrasound done to take a look of the baby to tell you whether it's a boy or girl.
I had three ultrasounds, they're done at different stages and one of them is prenatal testing for down syndrome (which has to be confirmed with another test if the mother chooses). Practically all women in Denmark and Sweden have two ultrasounds, three for me as one was booked too early to see the neck properly. If anyone wants to check on an entire population for autism + ultrasound, just go to Sweden & Denmark. The whole boy/girl thing is just a bonus, and if you ask the technician to not reveal the gender, they won't. (We saw though, oops)
posted by dabitch at 1:42 AM on July 29, 2010


Let's compare autism rates in places with tigers vs no tigers!!
So...Kenya and Norway?


Comparing autism rates in Kenya vs Norway is interesting, because some autism activists claim that autism is much rarer in Africa than in North America and Europe:

"This new danger reaches into their homes not through the barrel of a gun but through the tip of a needle and it leaves no visible wounds, just the inflamed brain tissues of their infant children. (...)
1) Autism has always been rare in Africa, with low rates that have surprised researchers.
2) Most autism in Africa occurred in elite families with access to Western health services.
3) Among Africans who migrate to Western countries, autism rates are remarkably high. These immigrants face unusual risks of over vaccination."

From one of the comments to this article (same link, scroll down to the comments):

"As a founder of the Autism Society of Kenya, I have personally come across hundreds of families affected by autism, and they come from all socio-economic backgrounds - from the poor family in the rural areas with no access whatsoever to information to those with access. Kenya is a dirt poor country with the majority of the population living below the poverty line, therefore, the majority of autistic people will logically be found within this bracket (this is a mathematical probability). (...)
There is a big problem with many people with autism being tied up and hidden in homes. (...)
Do not talk about autism research in Africa and their findings - it doesn't exist except in the figment of someone's imagination. (...)
It is important to realise that in Kenya, no research has been done, and in the majority of African states - perhaps in South Africa - so no conclusions can be drawn about the "causes of autism". I can say, however, that here in Kenya, I have come across several families that have more than one autistic person in their midst - that speaks to a genetic pre-disposition.

Monica Mburu
Autism Society of Kenya"


"In Africa, a lack of awareness and resources prevents many children with autism from getting help. They are stigmatized by their families and communities."

"Abstract: Clinical features of infantile autism in three African children from Kenya are described. There is no essential difference in features of childhood autism as described in the west."

"Autism is a devastating and complex developmental disorder affecting approximately 4% of the Kenyan population." Is this rate correct? Hard to say, no facts or statistics in the article.

Wikipedia says: "The prevalence of autism in Africa is unknown."

Regarding Norway: "A 2009 study reported prevalence rates for ASD ranging from 0.21% to 0.87%, depending on assessment method and assumptions about non-response, suggesting that methodological factors explain large variances in prevalence rates in different studies."

(Tigers in Norway at Kristiansand Zoo. Also, the Esso/Exxon tiger was created in Norway in 1900.)
posted by iviken at 5:14 AM on July 29, 2010


I can't shake the feeling that these sorts of 'discoveries' and reports are decoys to keep smart people occupied while they secretly something something. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Am I intelligent?
2. Have I spent longer than ten minutes reading this article and trying to pick apart its logical and statistical flaws?

They're definitely secretly something something, because nobody's this stupid.

Does anyone else sometimes wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats wishing Dr. Venkman was paying more attention at the start of Ghostbusters when that kid turned out to be psychic?
posted by doublehappy at 5:15 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had my first ultrasound this week (I hesitate to share that as it's super early to be dignifying these things with WORDS on the INTERNET, but there it is) and my one wish is that the ultrasound tech at my OB's office would remember that we are not all experts. She was giving me all kinds of information with no context and I was sort of silently freaking out and asking in my best pretending-to-be-calm voice "Is that... normal?"

Turns out that everything looks awesome. I'm hoping that the ultrasound gives my proto-human super powers. I also hope it doesn't keep that tail, but if it does, I'll love it and support its choice whether or not it decides to go into the circus.

I'm also doing my best not to read things like "Reading while pregnant will give your baby eight heads!" It's hard to do. Somehow when you get knocked up, that information just finds you.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:38 AM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


(8 weeks tomorrow, to head off anyone who asks. Still a bit early to go public - we haven't told FaceBook yet, but we're out of the first big danger zone and four more weeks until the first trimester is done.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:40 AM on July 29, 2010


...my one wish is that the ultrasound tech at my OB's office would remember that we are not all experts. She was giving me all kinds of information with no context and I was sort of silently freaking out and asking in my best pretending-to-be-calm voice "Is that... normal?"

Congratulations grapefruitmoon (Of course, I totally understand your hesitancy here).

I think the silent freak out is probably pretty common.

I'd helpfully removed my glasses before my first pregnancy ultrasound - I had some anxious, incredibly idiotic notion this was required - so could only nod blindly when the technician indicated the (normal) image and explained various points of interest.

(Very short sighted people sometimes think they also can't hear very well at all without their specs & I'm one of them). I might as well have been watching the moon landing.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:11 AM on July 29, 2010


The ultrasound went by so fast it wasn't until the next morning when I showed my boss (being a nanny, my boss has obviously been pregnant before) the pics that she was able to point out some of the actual features of the blob. It really was like some kind of Magic-Eye/Rorshach show where I just trusted that there was something going on there other than, well, blobbiness. Pretty awesome though.

I have a friend who has had a few 3D ultrasounds and that shit's just INSANE. It's amazing what technology can do these days (in addition to possibly giving our childrenz the autism).
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:23 AM on July 29, 2010


You have to be rich enough to support yourself entirely independently in order to dedicate yourself to your art.

We just had the one ultrasound at 19 weeks or so, but they did throw in some 3D imaging. Yes, that is some freaky, alien-lifeform shit going on there. (Our baby, of course, was gorgeous, even as a skin-dripping alien.)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:47 AM on July 29, 2010


Heh. Bad Ctrl-C skills ... in response to "I have a friend who has had a few 3D ultrasounds and that shit's just INSANE."
posted by mrgrimm at 9:47 AM on July 29, 2010


3D ultrasounds cause insanity.
posted by Artw at 9:49 AM on July 29, 2010


Friends of ours were guinea pigs when the 3D ultrasound people were trying to sell a machine to the hospital. They sent us a .mov the machine generated. It was really cool.

When we were the guinea pigs it wasn't anywhere near as cool, but it did have color Doppler. The cardiologist who was checking out the machine said, "Your baby has a great heart."

We ended up having 5, but we had a number of struggles and complications along the way which led to having the 3 over the normal 2 the hospital did.
posted by dw at 10:45 AM on July 29, 2010



People who work with Rett Syndrome know that it is not an Autism Spectrum Disorder, regardless of what the DSM-4 says. True - it has in common skill regression, limited social reciprocity, and stereotyped movements, but it is not autism. In fact, I believe that classification is to be corrected in the DSM-5. Also, the fact that his grandSON has Rett and is not dead already and conceivably still intact enough for there to be confusion about an autism diagnosis is pretty god damned incredible, considering the rarity of the disorder and the even more staggering rarity of boys who live to manifest it.

Why is he wasting his time on this nonsense?


Linublet, I don't know where you got the idea that autism and Rett aren't considered to share features but I know researchers who are studying Rett genes to understand what they may contribute to the understanding of other autism spectrum disorders. A quick google of Rett and autism or pubmed search will show that this is a perfectly legitimate connection to make.

There are many known rare genetic disorders that produce symptoms linked to common mental illnesses and it is a common research strategy to try to understand these simpler one-gene-mutation disorders that produce similar symptoms to see if there are common issues. Researchers studying Rett hope to see if the gene involved is also mutated somehow in more common autistic conditions.
posted by Maias at 2:26 PM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]






« Older Its their principal pet peeve   |   Motherlode Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments