• Kenneth Johansson/Corbis

    Shut Up

    Anti-Vaxxers’ Newest Scheme

    After years of alignment with anti-vaxxers, Jenny McCarthy says she’s not anti-vaccine—she’s pro ‘one poke per visit.’

    So close, Jenny McCarthy. So close. Well… not really. But I’m trying to adopt the same conciliatory tone that McCarthy affects in a recent Chicago Sun-Times op-ed, in which she claims that she was never really “anti-vaccine” and that believing otherwise is just a big misunderstanding.

    “For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, ‘pro-vaccine’ and for years I have been wrongly branded as ‘anti-vaccine,’” she writes.



    Autism Linked to Induced Labor

    Study found babies had a 35 percent greater risk.

    Baby boys born through induced or augmented births had a 35 percent greater risk of autism than babies born without intervention, according to research done by JAMA Pediatrics. Male babies seem to be more affected than baby girls: the study shows that 1.3 percent of male children were diagnosed with autism over the course of the study compared with 0.4 percent of females. The study showed that those children later diagnosed with autism more often endured some form of “fetal distress” during birth. Although multiple issues can contribute to higher autism risk—the woman’s health, the unborn child’s health, fetal distress, and medications/drugs in the mother or child’s system—fetal distress is most closely linked to autism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 50 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism or a related disorder.

  • Liu Jin/AFP

    Genetics, social learning are factors.

    For every four boys diagnosed with autism, only one girl is diagnosed, and new research is beginning to provide insight into why. Although underdiagnosis in girls may have a hand in producing the numbers, researchers believe that the gender distribution is meaningful. According to a new study out of Yale, being female affords genetic protection against autism, while experimenters at Emory found that autistic boys learn social cues differently than autistic girls do. Emory researcher Ami Klin notes that further research is needed: “We tended to assume that boys and girls [with autism] do the same thing when they adjust to everyday life ... There’s emerging evidence that it’s to the contrary.”

  • Rengim Mutevellioglu/Getty

    Visual Thinking

    Temple Grandin: My Big Idea

    The animal-science pioneer and autistic activist looks inside her brain to learn about autism—and discovers that she’s quite face-blind.

    What’s your big idea?

    That there are three kinds of thinking. The traditional way of describing different kinds of minds is to say that some people think visually and some people think verbally. But “visual thinker” doesn’t really describe that part of the population well. I think in pictures, but I found that other visual thinkers don’t think like me at all. They think spatially. The more I asked people how they think, the more convinced I became that picture/object thinking and pattern/spatial thinking were as distinct from each other as the old visual and verbal categories. But did my hypothesis have any basis in scientific fact? To my delight, I discovered it does. Research by a neuroscientist named Maria Kozhevnikov has convincingly shown that not only do different parts of the brain correspond to picture-object thinking and pattern-spatial thinking, but that a brain that’s really good at one of those ways of thinking is usually weak in the other. They truly are different kinds of thinkers. Which makes sense. If you look at scientists and artists, they’re both visual thinkers, but they don’t think the same way.

  • LaCoppola Meier/Getty

    Medical Mystery

    Are Ultrasounds Causing Autism?

    Scientists are uncovering disturbing evidence that those sneak peeks at baby could damage a developing brain.

    Toward the end of my first pregnancy, a doctor ordered an “emergency” ultrasound because she believed I was measuring small. She turned to go to her next client before I could talk to her about it, muttering that she suspected “intrauterine growth retardation.”

    My husband and I sat in the waiting room, flooded with anxiety. The scan showed the baby was fine. It wasn’t until years later when I started researching and writing about pregnancy that I learned that ultrasound scans have not been shown to be any more effective in predicting intrauterine growth restriction (doctors these days try to avoid using the word retardation) than palpation of the pregnant woman’s abdomen by an experienced clinician.