Autism more common in rainy climates

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girl with umbrellaAccording to experts, the increasing number of autistic children can be partly attributed to the fact that doctors are better able to diagnose the condition than they used to be. But better diagnostic techniques cannot account for the fact that autism rates have increased in the past 30 years from 1 in 2,500 children to 1 in 150 children.

Scientists are looking everywhere for the answer to this devastating problem -- even the sky. New research, led by Cornell University professor Michael Waldman and published in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, suggests that there may be a connection between rainy climates and autism. The surprising data reveals that autism is more prevalent among children who live their first three years of life in areas where rainfall rates are high -- specifically California, Washington and Oregon.

Theories abound as to why this would be. Perhaps more rainy days leads to more time spent indoors watching television, which may affect behavioral and cognitive development. Possibly all that time in the house deprives children of vitamin D while also exposing them to higher levels of indoor pollutants. Or maybe the rain itself carries something toxic that interferes with development.

It is an interesting theory, but before you pack up and head to Florida, consider that the answer could be 'none of the above'. Researchers have yet to link autism to indoor pollution or chemicals in rain and the authors of this study acknowledge that "further research focused on establishing whether such a trigger exists and on identifying it is warranted."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.