Wednesday, 06 August 2008
by Mama HippoI was just talking with my husband, and he mentioned a conversation he'd had with a fellow new mom friend about flame retardants. She said that the use of flame retardants in infant sleepwear was banned a few years ago in the European Union, and that apparently they've seen a drop in autism rates since then.
I've heard often how the chemicals used to make infant sleepwear flame retardant may be very dangerous to their health, but had never heard of a connection between them and autism. I immediately started googling and found a few links mentioning flame retardants as a possible link/cause to autism, but it seems not much research has been done about this yet (or at least not many definitive answers have been found).
What I'm wondering is, why have I not heard about this before? We seem to be so stuck on the link between vaccines and autism, one that has little evidence at best. Why is there not more public discourse going on about these other potential causes? Especially since cutting out flame retardants seems to have a much lower downside to it than avoiding vaccines (I assume most of us know better than to hold lit cigarettes near our sleeping children, there's little I can do otherwise about keeping my son from catching polio or measles if he's exposed without the protection of a vaccine).
Then there's the mention of "nature deficit disorder." Apparently, "outdoor exposure has long been associated with healthier cognitive functioning in children, with reduction in Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms and greater emotional capacity. But new findings suggest it could impact autism, too. Last year, Cornell University researchers found higher rates of autism in counties where more households subscribed to cable and children under the age of three regularly watched TV. The Amish, with almost no exposure to TV, have little evidence of autism, notes the study." (source) This is fascinating. Could it really be as simple as exposing our kids to more time outside, and away from TV, etc, to help lower their risk of autism? Why is that never talked about??
If we are truly so concerned about autism and finding the reasons for its recent rise, why are we not looking at these alternative risk factors and doing something about them? Have vaccines become a scapegoat and such an obsession that it's keeping us from finding and talking about other, possibly stronger links to autism?