The mercury mess

Is it really related to developmental disorders?

May 3, 2012

As more and more children are diagnosed with autism, more and more researchers are trying to figure out what causes it. The purported link between autism and vaccines has been roundly debunked, but other correlations keep popping up. Is being obese while pregnant a cause? And is consuming high-fructose corn syrup also somehow related?

On Grist, Tom Laskawy recently wrote about a scientific review connecting HFCS with autism. As a subsequent editor's post noted, Laskawy’s article raised a scientific ruckus, with other science bloggers challenging Laskawy’s casual interpretations of the review and chastising him for possible fearmongering.

What’s the possible connection between HFCS and autism? Low levels of mercury, the same stuff originally blamed in the vaccine brouhaha. But as Hanna Brooks Olsen wrote on Bliss Tree, “it’s difficult to truly study something that most of the population is consistently being exposed to at low levels.”

And on Grist yet again, Emily Willingham pointed out that autism rates have continued to rise while our consumption of HFCS has continued to decline, thereby invalidating the presumed link between the two.

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