Autism Isn’t Actually on the Rise

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Our Saturday green news brings you the latest on health, parenting and cool baby and kid products:

peanuts, heart health

Photo courtesy of Daniella Segura via Flickr

  • Autism isn’t actually on the rise: According to a study recently published in the journal Psychological Medicine, autism rates are actually not on the rise. This study represents the most extensive review of available data on the global prevalence and incidence of autism, and its results indicate that autism rates have remained unchanged since 1990 when 7.5 per 1,000 children had autism compared to 7.6 per 1,000 in 2010. As the study leader Amanda Baxter explained: “This study drew together research findings on autism spectrum disorders conducted across the world over the past 20 years. Reports of higher rates of autism in recent years means that we are doing a better job of identifying people on the autism disorder spectrum, particularly those at the milder end of the spectrum, and also identifying them at an earlier age.” The study results also found a significant gap in the data about adults with autism. “Only one study has been conducted on autism spectrum disorders in adults. So even if rates aren’t sky-rocketing, there’s still a lot of room for understanding'” Baxter commented.
  • Peanuts and heart health: According to a large-scale study recently published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, consuming peanuts may lower the risk for cardiovascular disease. Although previous studies already linked consumption of peanuts and tree nuts to lower mortality, these studies mainly included people of an European descent and high socioeconomic status. This new report is a prospective study of 71,764 black and white Americans, primarily of lower socioeconomic status, and 134,265 men and women living in Shanghai. The researchers followed the participants for a period of 12 years, and found that American participants who consumed nuts on a regular basis had a 21 percent lower risk of death, and Chinese participants had about 17 percent lower risk, based on the analysis. As Dr. Xiao-Ou Shu, the study senior author and a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University explained: “There was a similar association for ischemic heart disease in all ethnicities, but the association of nuts with a lower risk for stroke was significant only in Asians. This is an observational study and there could be confounding factors, but from our study and previous studies, the evidence is quite strong that peanuts are beneficial to heart health. ”
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