31 March 2009

"Baffling" Finding not so Baffling

In a study of Swedish children, intended to ferret out connections between allergies and indoor pollutants, researchers came upon a "baffling" link between autism and vinyl flooring, which emits phthalates. Had the scientists studied their own conclusions, they'd not have been baffled at all.
Experts suspect that genetic and environmental factors combine to cause autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder that has increased dramatically in children over the past 20 years....

The researchers found four environmental factors associated with autism: vinyl flooring, the mother's smoking, family economic problems and condensation on windows, which indicates poor ventilation.

Notice anything about that list of four factors associated with autism? Anyone familiar with the social determinants of health (SDOH) would spot it immediately.

Family economic problems lead to living in poor conditions. Which means living in environments with cheaper floors; poorly sealed, typically single glazed windows; and addictions such as smoking which parents worn out by the stress may use to ease the strain of day-to-day survival.

In other words, this is further evidence that one of the key SDOH - income - results in poor parents being more likely to have children with autism (also allergies) than more affluent parents. It's really that simple, that stark. Inequality is bad for your health.

Recommend this post