Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Genetics vs. Environment

“Study: Spacing babies close may raise autism risk,” by  CARLA K. JOHNSON (AP Medical Writer) (Jan. 10, 2011):  

“Close birth spacing may put a second-born child at higher risk for autism, suggests a preliminary study based on more than a half-million California children.  Children born less than two years after their siblings were considerably more likely to have an autism diagnosis compared to those born after at least three years. The sooner the second child was conceived the greater the likelihood of that child later being diagnosed with autism. The effect was found for parents of all ages, decreasing the chance that it was older parents and not the birth spacing behind the higher risk.

‘That was pretty shocking to us, to be honest,’ said senior author Peter Bearman of Columbia University in New York. The researchers took into account other risk factors for autism and still saw the effect of birth spacing.

‘No matter what we did, whether we were looking at autism severity, looking at age, or looking at all the various dimensions we could think of, we couldn't get rid of this finding,’ Bearman said. Still, he said more studies are needed to confirm the birth spacing link.”

So, if birth spacing puts a child at “considerably more” risk of having ASD, and “no matter what [the researchers] did . . . [they] couldn’t get rid of this finding,” then how on earth can ASD be a purely genetic disorder that is inherited?  I mean, assuming the mother and the father of the second children in this study are the same, how can the genetics be any different?

Also, what about the “old days” before the ASD epidemic?  I know my Grandparents had six kids, and my wife’s grandparents had eleven (ow!), all pretty close together, and no ASD issues there . . .

Doesn’t this speak far more to our own frailty?  Do you think, maybe, we’ve weakened our bodies, weakened our immune systems, made ourselves more susceptible to injury from environmental factors through poor nutrition, over use of antibiotics, lack of exercise, etc., and now our children are paying the price?

Don’t write off Wakefield just yet . . .

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