Eating Marshmallows Causes Autism

Are you outraged by the title of my piece? Are you ready to tell me what a ridiculous statement it is? Well you should be because it is but this week, seeing that a so-called scientific study claims babies born by c-section are more likely to be autistic, has made me see red and I had to write about it.
Photo by Rebecca Freeman on Unsplash

The Swedish study, a mishmash of results bolted together from 61 studies from 19 countries dating back to the 1960s, was published this week and apparently found that babies born by Caesarean are one third more likely to develop autism (and also more likely to have ADHD).

Can I just say,  I'm not entirely sure babies "develop" autism anyway. The signs of autism just become more apparent the older they get.

The study didn't go as far as to say that surgical deliveries actually caused autism but just the implication will engender massive guilt in many parents who will already be wondering if they somehow caused their child to be autistic (no you didn't by the way).

It may also panic mums to be who face planned or emergency sections and may now put themselves at risk trying to avoid the surgery in the hope it will prevent autism.

As our country faces a potential measles epidemic which could kill our precious babies partly thanks to the completely disproved theory that vaccinations cause autism, now we could lose still more children as their misguided mothers refuse surgical intervention in case it causes autism.

In my view, this study is almost as ridiculous as my statement that eating marshmallows causes autism. I'm sure there is a percentage of mothers or autistics who eat marshmallows. It doesn't mean the sweets caused the autism!

Lets drill down into the study a little.

Firstly the statistics show that "more than a third" actually means around 2% of C-section births produce children who go on to be diagnosed with autism.

Secondly there are common risk factors shared by women which means they are more likely to have a c-section and/or a child with autism/adhd.

These include being an older mum-to-be, being overweight or obese and having a history of immune conditions including asthma.

On paper I fit the bill on all counts. I had c-sections, some when I was considered older in gynaecologists terms, and I have a variety of auto-immune conditions. I still don't think any of these factors definitely "caused" autism in my children.

I have autistic children, nieces, nephews, siblings and possibly many other relatives who were never diagnosed. The so called "risk factors" did not apply to their births.

I'm not entirely sure I am not autistic myself (I recognise now that my masking is worthy of an Oscar winning actress) and I was not born by C-section and my mum was young, fit and slim. My sister has a diagnosis of autism and also was born naturally while my mum was still young and slim.

As I learn more about girls/women with autism I think the belief that it is more common in boys might turn out to be incorrect. I wonder if since girls just present differently diagnosis is harder. My girls certainly don't fit the stereotype.

Anyway. I'm sure there are variety of reasons why some people are autistic and some people are not. I'm not sure I really care.

Whilst research into the root of autism may be helpful, it's far more important for us all to work on accepting autistics into a world which is largely built around making life easy for the neurotypical community.

Oh and while I am on my soapbox please don't send me information about how I can "cure" autism. No amount of healthy smoothies, nutritional supplements, blood plasma injections or bleach drinks  (I know right!) are going to change the way autistic brains work.

PLEASE. Think of autism as an "otherness" rather than a tragic health condition or abnormal state or autistics as people to be fixed or brought into line with "normal" people and you'll be playing an important part in making our world a better place for everyone to live in. Don't cancel your C-section and for goodness sake, get your baby vaccinated.

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