SNP:"back to sleep campaign" and autism - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 01:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I recently was made aware of the fact that there are some out there who think the "back to sleep" campaign has contributed to the rise in autism.

So far the links I've read haven't been particularly convincing. But I was wondering if anyone out there had opinions either way on this issue.

This is what I initially read (a comment on an NPR radio show):
"Today, doctors try to prevent SIDS by not allowing babies get Slow Wave Sleep (Stage 3 and Stage 4 NREM sleep combined). Is this safe?

If a baby sleeps on their stomach they go through all 4 stages of NREM sleep and then through REM sleep in a typical 90 minute sleep cycle.

But, if you put a baby to sleep on it's back it goes through the first 2 stages of NREM sleep and then skips to REM sleep without going through Stage 3 and Stage 4 NREM sleep.

Before 1992 over 90% of U.S. babies slept on their stomach or side. Now, over 75% of U.S. babies sleep on their backs.

When humans are awake the memories they make are stored in their hippocampus. Then, during SWS, they are transferred to their Neocortex for permanent storage. This doesn't happen for babies anymore since they don't get SWS. Tummy Time is while they are Awake so SWS won't occur here either. Since 1992 we've had a huge increase in toddlers with neurodevelopmental issues specifically PDD-NOS.

What I'm trying to get at is that I think a possible unintended consequence of the SIDS "Back to Sleep" Campaign is that it has caused the Autism Epidemic.

http://tummysleepcentral.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html"

Curious to know what other MDC mamas think.

XOXO
B

mama to Milena Anjali (4/26/06) and Vincent Asher (4/13/09) ~ married to the love of my life since 2002.
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#2 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 02:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BethSLP View Post
I recently was made aware of the fact that there are some out there who think the "back to sleep" campaign has contributed to the rise in autism.

So far the links I've read haven't been particularly convincing. But I was wondering if anyone out there had opinions either way on this issue.

This is what I initially read (a comment on an NPR radio show):
"Today, doctors try to prevent SIDS by not allowing babies get Slow Wave Sleep (Stage 3 and Stage 4 NREM sleep combined). Is this safe?

If a baby sleeps on their stomach they go through all 4 stages of NREM sleep and then through REM sleep in a typical 90 minute sleep cycle.

But, if you put a baby to sleep on it's back it goes through the first 2 stages of NREM sleep and then skips to REM sleep without going through Stage 3 and Stage 4 NREM sleep.

Before 1992 over 90% of U.S. babies slept on their stomach or side. Now, over 75% of U.S. babies sleep on their backs.

When humans are awake the memories they make are stored in their hippocampus. Then, during SWS, they are transferred to their Neocortex for permanent storage. This doesn't happen for babies anymore since they don't get SWS. Tummy Time is while they are Awake so SWS won't occur here either. Since 1992 we've had a huge increase in toddlers with neurodevelopmental issues specifically PDD-NOS.

What I'm trying to get at is that I think a possible unintended consequence of the SIDS "Back to Sleep" Campaign is that it has caused the Autism Epidemic.

http://tummysleepcentral.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html"

Curious to know what other MDC mamas think.

XOXO
B
Interesting. I've always let my kids sleep on tummies or sides. It seems like there's something just odd about those protruding foreheads and flat back of heads that I see everywhere. It doesn't seem healthy.

I think that a lot of different things contribute to autism. I think it can be triggered by many different things. My 18yo autistic sister has many of the risk factors...allergies, ear infections, mom had Rogam shot, vaccines. I don't think she slept on her back because she didn't sleep for the first 2 years.

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#3 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 02:19 PM
 
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I've never heard of this. I don't understand why it is believed that sleep position influences sleep cycles. I would be curious to know how many babies were studied to see if it is really true that all (or most) babies do not go into slow wave sleep on their backs. Because if that part isn't true, than any conclusions draw from that would be invalid.

I think it's safe to say that no one knows what causes or triggers autism and other specturm disorders, and I support research, even if it seems like an unlikely cause.

Twin boys (2/05) and little sister (10/07)
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#4 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 02:22 PM
 
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I'd have to read more to even think about forming an opinion. I had honestly never heard of this idea before.

BTW, my second always slept on his stomach-started in the hospital NICU and continued at home. He couldn't sleep any other way.
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#5 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 03:01 PM
 
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It's interesting. Dd couldn't sleep well on her back. I did occasionally let her sleep on her tummy but not often because I was scared of SIDS.

I believe autism has different causes for different kids, and chronic sleep deprivation seems like a possibility for some.
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#6 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 03:09 PM
 
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Without any further researching the subject, I'm thinking that if this were the case--why aren't ALL children affected by autism vs. the fraction of all children? Because if 75% now sleep on their backs, why wouldn't the rate of children in the spectrum be somewhere close to that?

Similar claims were made about children who skipped crawling and went right to walking--that it was somehow altering their development. That has since been found to be false.

I love, love, LOVE NPR for being an intelligent voice in a vast and growing sea of media stupidity; but that doesn't mean I agree with all of what they present... kwim?

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#7 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 03:29 PM
 
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the only way i could have gotten ds to sleep on his back would have been to strap him down. we used to swaddle him and he would sleep more on his side even then. its an interesting theory ... the sleep cycle part not sure how it would contribute to autism though. i think it is unlikely (but not impossible) that one or two specific things have caused the rise in autism.. it seems more probable that it is a combination of factors.

i suppose they could take an incredibly large number of women and watch them and their children from a few years prior to conception through their children's adolescence and see how many children are diagnosed with autism and try and pick out things they have in common with each other and different from the children without autism ... but then they would probably have to follow them through several generations for it to be a thorough study so it would be a bit hard.

would be interesting to find out more though.

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Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post

Similar claims were made about children who skipped crawling and went right to walking--that it was somehow altering their development. That has since been found to be false.
this is one of those things i have always found interesting. how would they propose you make your children crawl. i could see where skipping crawling could be indicative of something... but even that seems unlikely. i skipped crawling... and i have ADD which is apparently common in children who skipped crawling. my brother crawled and he has a ADD to
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#8 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 03:44 PM
 
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I've never been a believer in the "Back to Sleep" campaign, if you read the studies that showed an increase in SIDS for tummy sleepers, all you have to do is correct it for variables and you'll find that the "true" risks of tummy sleeping have to do with environment a huge majority of the time. Second hand smoke, soft sleeping surfaces, blankets, sleeping on the stomach with another person (particularly one who has had alcohol, medications, one who has sleep apnea, someone who is overweight, etc), certain races and demographics (the lower the income, the more likely SIDS is), etc. Most of those risk factors can be overcome by changing the baby's sleeping position to the back, but if you have a baby with NONE of those risks, then back sleeping vs tummy sleeping isn't any different. Statistically.

Here the campaign is "The ABCs of Sleep" which is A=Alone, B=on their Back, C=in a Crib. It's expands on the back to sleep by basically talking badly about cosleeping, which again has its own set of risk factors that can be overcome.

I think if someone wants to draw some conclusions about sleep positions and Autism, they should look to other countries. What other countries have their babies sleep on their backs? Do those countries have high rates of Autism? If not, then there's obviously another component.

Mommy to BigBoy Ian (3-17-05) ; LittleBoy Connor (3-3-07) (DiGeorge/VCFS):; BabyBoy Gavin (10-3-09) x3 AngelBaby (1-7-06)
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#9 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 03:58 PM
 
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I think it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics. Just because the rise in autism and the rise in back sleeping coincide does not mean that there is a causal relationship between the two.

And furthermore, the prone (tummy) sleeping position only became recommended in the US in the 1930s and 1940s, and I don't think it became common until the 1950s. Most babies were placed on their backs. (Even side sleeping was discouraged because it might supposedly lead to compression of the ribs!)

So, why isn't there a generation of people born before 1930 (like my parents - yes, I'm that old) who have the same high rates of autism?

Autism is a complex neurological condition -- there's a genetic component, an environmental component and probably some other things that we just don't understand (yet) associated with it. I don't think we can ever reduce the 'cause' of autism to a single factor.

Furthermore, it makes me angry when people try because it's a short step from there to 'blame'. If only the parents hadn't put their children to sleep on their backs... If only the parents hadn't vaccinated their children... If only the parents had parented better... If only the parents had married someone with different genes....

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#10 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 06:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
I think it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics. Just because the rise in autism and the rise in back sleeping coincide does not mean that there is a causal relationship between the two.

And furthermore, the prone (tummy) sleeping position only became recommended in the US in the 1930s and 1940s, and I don't think it became common until the 1950s. Most babies were placed on their backs. (Even side sleeping was discouraged because it might supposedly lead to compression of the ribs!)

So, why isn't there a generation of people born before 1930 (like my parents - yes, I'm that old) who have the same high rates of autism?

Autism is a complex neurological condition -- there's a genetic component, an environmental component and probably some other things that we just don't understand (yet) associated with it. I don't think we can ever reduce the 'cause' of autism to a single factor.

Furthermore, it makes me angry when people try because it's a short step from there to 'blame'. If only the parents hadn't put their children to sleep on their backs... If only the parents hadn't vaccinated their children... If only the parents had parented better... If only the parents had married someone with different genes....

: I agree with ALL of that. People are just looking for something to point to and then remove thereby eliminating the issue in question. If it were that simple, don't you think we'd have figured it out by now?!

Geesh!

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#11 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 06:11 PM
 
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All my babies slept on their stomachs. I was aware of the back to sleep campaign but my kids simply would not sleep on their backs or sides as babies. Ever. A couple of them had severe reflux so they needed to be on their stomachs anyway. 2 of my kids are on the spectrum.
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#12 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 06:13 PM
 
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If your read enough, you'll learn the truth- everything causes autism








Or at least that is the only possible conclusion if you choose to believe every theory or hypothesis regarding it. There are so many people assuming correlations equal causation, or commiting outright fraud when it comes to finding an environmental cause of autism it's downright criminal.

Many Native American mothers had their babies swaddled to cradle boards for much of the first year of life. I'm sure other cultures always put babies on their back or always put babies on their stomachs. And, although I would agree that the diagnosing of autism spectrum disorders has skyrocketed, I don't necessarily believe that the actual prevalence has increased very much.
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#13 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 07:22 PM
 
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Here the campaign is "The ABCs of Sleep" which is A=Alone, B=on their Back, C=in a Crib. It's expands on the back to sleep by basically talking badly about cosleeping, which again has its own set of risk factors that can be overcome.
I find this campaign really annoying. My friends' baby was born at Miami Valley Hospital and came home with a onesie that said, "I sleep Alone on my Back in a Crib." The family co-sleeps, so obviously Baby never wore it.

There are lots and lots of bad theories about what can cause autism (pitocin and rainfall amounts, for example). This sounds like another one to add to that list.

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Mom to an amazing little guy, age 9 (Autism, Hyperlexia, Dyspraxia, Albinism, Chromosome Microdeletion)

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#14 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 07:53 PM
 
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I find this campaign really annoying. My friends' baby was born at Miami Valley Hospital and came home with a onesie that said, "I sleep Alone on my Back in a Crib." The family co-sleeps, so obviously Baby never wore it.

There are lots and lots of bad theories about what can cause autism (pitocin and rainfall amounts, for example). This sounds like another one to add to that list.
Rainfall? Wow.
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#15 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 08:03 PM
 
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I think it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics. Just because the rise in autism and the rise in back sleeping coincide does not mean that there is a causal relationship between the two....
Yes- correlation does not show causation, but it does indicate the potential for a relationship. I'm not saying there is one here, but a correlation DOES (sometimes) mean SOMETHING. And, of course, there are degrees of correlation. So, while it does not imply causation, and sometimes things can have a correlation when there is no direct relationship, correlations can often be a starting point for further research and ideas.

What I'm saying is that while you have to be careful to not imply causation, discovering correlations and exploring them is not a worthless endevour.

The things that are going into this theory (autism, sleep, neurology, genetics and social programs) are all complex. I'm certainly no expert, but I doubt that a direct line could be drawn from sleep to autism without at least passing though genetics and most likely other factors as well.

As frustrating and sad as it is, there is no "neat and tidy bow" to tie up autism. We want so badly to say "THIS causes autism, so if we just don't do that, the kids won't get it...". But it is just not that simple.
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#16 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 08:30 PM
 
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Rainfall? Wow.
Here are a couple of articles about the "connection" between autism and rainfall:

http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/ne...-may-be-linked
http://www.reuters.com/article/healt...4A34WG20081104

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#17 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 09:56 PM
 
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First of all, Back to Sleep is not a new thing.

My grandmother's edition of Dr. Spock (1941) tells parents how crucial it is to make sure baby sleeps on its back so that it doesn't spit up and then drown in the puddle of spit-up.

Secondly, I'm not convinced that having newborns go into deep sleep cycles is at all a good thing or what nature intends. Infants have trouble regulating their sleep/wake cycles and controlling their basic functions if they go too deep. When cosleeping, they adjust to the breathing of the adults in the room with them. But sleeping on their own, they should probably *not* sleep deeply.

THink about how babies must have slept before the invention of firm, flat, mattresses. If you're nestling your baby in a cradle lined with a straw-stuffed mattress, are you going to put it face down into a soft surface that will plug its nose and mouth? If you are sleeping with your baby on a straw-covered, fur-lined platform, are you going to put it face down, or are you going to nestle it against you on its back or side in the crook of your arm.

ARguments about babies sleeping "better" on their tummies on a hard mattress are kind of irrelevant, since that's the setup that anyone had anywhere until relatively recently, and there is no evidence that sleeping deeply like an adult is "better" for a baby in a health sense of the word.

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#18 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 09:59 PM
 
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lollybrat, just had to say i think that onesie saying is hilarious!!! the only way it'd be funnier is if they had it in adult sizes, and you saw someone wearing the shirt.
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#19 of 27 Old 05-30-2009, 02:19 AM
 
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Someone somewhere needs to write "I will not start post hoc ergo propter hoc rumors" on the chalkboard in the manner of Bart Simpson. That or we should start our own rumors just to see if they catch on. Anyone? I haven't heard autism attributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall yet, we could try that one.
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#20 of 27 Old 05-30-2009, 03:33 AM
 
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DS was a tummy sleeper (and co-sleeper), and while we may have caused all manner of ills to befall him, he was born autistic . And he slept far better than my NT DD as an infant.

I personally think babies and parents need to work out sleep that works best, and that a wide variety of possibilities exist. Babies are pretty adaptable creatures, and sleep in lots of places and ways.

Nothing like hooking two hot button issues together to make people crazy .

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win. ~Jonathan Kozel
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#21 of 27 Old 05-30-2009, 03:49 AM
 
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I came up with that theory in 2007. BTW, thank you alexsam as you said exactly what I've been trying to say (albeit much more precisely than me).

Here's a discussion I had with a child educator last year about my theory. She understood my concerns about how the proper development of motor skills (procedural learning) are necessary for the proper development of speech and language as children get older:

http://larisanaples.blogspot.com/2008/08/nap-time.html

Anyway, here's how I came up with my theory. Basically, I figured 2 conditions must be true of any potential factor that increases autism (assuming that there is an actual increase in autism which I believe there is): (1) This factor would have had to increased in the 1990's (2) It would have to cause "similar" symptoms as autism.

In 1992 10% of U.S. parents put their infants to sleep on their backs and by 1999 65% of parents put their infants to sleep on their backs. Condition 1 is met.

Back sleep has been shown in studies published in peer reviewed journals to cause milestone delays, motor skills delays, increase gastroesophageal reflux, increase apnea episodes, increase plagiocephaly, and increase torticollis rates. My hypothesis is that in about 0.5% of the girls and 2% of the boys there reaction to back sleep is so physiologically negative that they eventually get diagnosed with PDD-NOS Autism as children. I believe Asperger's Autism and "Classical" Autism are solely genetic.

Further, the whole point of the back sleeping campaign as outlined by the AAP is to reduce slow wave sleep (Stage 3 and Stage 4 NREM sleep) because that is when infants die of SIDS (mainly between the age of 2 months (sleep spindles first appear) and 4 months (about the time an infant gains control of neck muscles)). In addition, it is believed that the birth defect that causes infants to not be able to arouse from SWS (and thus die of SIDS) is very rare (say 1 in 2000). Therefore, back sleep only reduces the risk of SIDS in children with this rare birth defect so for 1999 out every 2000 infants the back to sleep campaign is a complete waste of time. If an infant doesn't have the birth defect then there is no reduction. The reason they make all infants sleep on their backs is because they don't have a test to tell them which kids have the birth defect and which kids don't.

If the AAP began recommending that all infants get anti-cancer chemotherapy because it reduces the rate of pediatric cancer by 50% and only causes "mild and transient" developmental delays would anyone in their right mind go along with it? Of course not. But, because this is a sleep position is has flown under the radar and been given very little scrutiny. Unfortuantely, the head of the AAP SIDS Back to Sleep Campaign, Dr. John Kattwinkel, had a daughter die at 3 days of age in 1966 and has whipped up a huge amount of paranoia and hysteria among parents regarding SIDS. His daughters death is a tragedy but I think it has biased him to much towards preventing SIDS and not balancing his viewpoint with the negative aspects of the SIDS Back to Sleep Campaign: developmental delays, acid reflux increases, sleep apnea increases, torticollis increases, plagiocephaly increases....and who knows what further down the road since motor skills do have an impact on speech, language, and emotional and physical development.

BTW, this is just my hypothesis. Also, I think back sleep is the major factor in the increase in autism but I think there are other factors. I think anything that disrupts SWS (pacifiers, enlarged tonsils, etc.) is a potential factor in increasing the autism rate. I definitely think autism is a multifactorial condition. Also, I think my theory is more logical than vaccines, rainfall, cell phones, etc. I do think vaccines cause a very bad reaction in say 1 in every 100,000 kids but I don't think they are the cause of the increase in autism. Nor do I think the increase in autism is caused solely by diagnostic criteria changes and increased awareness (although I do think part of the increase is caused by that).

Here's a petition I have (it has all my sources):

http://www.petitionspot.com/petition...dPlagiocephaly
(Scroll down and you will see all my sources)

Here's my Blog (I haven't worked on it in quite some time):
http://tummysleepcentral.blogspot.com/

Here's a very good plagiocephaly petition with thousands of comments by parents/guardians, etc.:
http://www.petitiononline.com/0799/petition.html
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#22 of 27 Old 05-30-2009, 06:07 AM
 
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Basically, I figured 2 conditions must be true of any potential factor that increases autism (assuming that there is an actual increase in autism which I believe there is): (1) This factor would have had to increased in the 1990's (2) It would have to cause "similar" symptoms as autism...

Back sleep has been shown in studies published in peer reviewed journals to cause milestone delays, motor skills delays, increase gastroesophageal reflux, increase apnea episodes, increase plagiocephaly, and increase torticollis rates. My hypothesis is that in about 0.5% of the girls and 2% of the boys there reaction to back sleep is so physiologically negative that they eventually get diagnosed with PDD-NOS Autism as children. I believe Asperger's Autism and "Classical" Autism are solely genetic.
Hi Tom!

I agree with you that back doctors are quick to throw simplistic solutions at complex problems, and "back to sleep" has consequences they didn't intend.

But I part ways with you connecting that to autism. My issue is with your (2) above. The core of autism isn't motor skills delay or sleep apnea or reflux. It's social and communicative. In many cases, autism isn't "delays" - that implies normal development on a slower schedule. Autistic kids have profoundly different development. Children suffering from every symptom you list wouldn't meet most of the diagnostic criteria for ASD (PDD-NOS or otherwise).

Not saying you're wrong, just saying I don't see the connection, even at an "out there hypothesis" level.

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win. ~Jonathan Kozel
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#23 of 27 Old 05-30-2009, 07:37 AM
 
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My son spent most of his sleeping time on his side as we co-slept and he was a boob barnacle - he has autism.

nak
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#24 of 27 Old 05-30-2009, 11:37 AM
 
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None of my three slept on their backs. All three have varying forms of autism. None of them had apnea or reflux and all slept well. Interestingly that changed as they got older but as babies they slept pretty 'typically'.

However most of my family tree has strong autistic traits. We know it wasn't anything but plain old genetics in our case.

I'm wondering what will be the 'cause of autism' next week? I seem to see a new 'cause' every week - usually involving something a parent 'did' to cause it.
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#25 of 27 Old 05-31-2009, 06:49 PM
 
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I've got a far fetched theory for you:

I think it is more likely that NPR has a new sponsor (or an old one with a new agenda) that is on a campaign to get more kids vaccinated. Did anyone see the recent story about anyone thinking that there is a vaccine/autism connection is a crazy kook?

It caught my attention since is assumed that the fear of autism was the only reason parents decline vaccines for their children. I thought that was a bit shallow for NPR.

I think this recent story is a bit weird too. It's not like babies never slept on their backs until the powers that be started this campaign.

I don't trust big pharma to not try to shift blame away from something it is selling.

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#26 of 27 Old 10-26-2013, 10:09 AM
 
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This is just not true, there is a statistical relation, but that is it! There is just not biological backup to this relation at all. Brain development is not influenced by the position a baby sleeps. If there was a real influence the rise of Autistic Spectrum (AS) diagnosis should be delayed as it takes a few years before most diagnoses are made and the graphs I have seen do not show this delay. It is just some one playing with statistics and other people taking it serious. AS has a genetic background, without the genetic make up AS will not develop not matter how a child is sleeping!

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#27 of 27 Old 11-04-2013, 02:09 PM
 
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Thank you Lolly for posting the rainfall articles. I think there is some validity in suspecting the chemicals we breathe in our home continually. I just finished reading an article on TILT in Discover magazine and how people have become so sensitive that theere is a whole community of folks who sleep outside in the desert for relief. But wouldn't this also correlate with winter babies and cold climates as well?

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