Recently I posted a response to a comment on the vaccine issue (recent scientific studies show no statistical link between immunizations and autism).  I hypothesised that there were many other factors that needed to be considered for the possible causes of the rising autism rates.  One I failed to mention was television.  Cable TV, VCRs, and specialized children’s programming became very popular about 1980, just the time autism rates began to increase.  A new study by Cornell University reports what appears to be a link between children younger than 3 years old watching TV and autism.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended that no child under 2 years old watch TV, this is the first study to link TV watching with a serious complication.  Growing Families International has also warned parents that TV can over-stimulate infants and toddlers who have trouble just focusing on their own hand, a single toy, or a sibling moving around the room, much less the crazy jumble of colors and rapidly changing images of most TV shows.

The findings seem to point to the 2 dimensional objects on TV causing the brain to have abnormal activity in the visual-processing centers (consistent with findings in most autistic children).  While it may be an easy babysitter, Teletubbies and Baby Einstein might not be helping your child that much after all.