Today in Research: The Rise in Autism; Middle-Aged Alcoholics

Discovered: new tiniest frogs, climate change solution is more talking, email habits, autism diagnosis, and a drinking age gap.

  • The rise in autism (diagnosis). The Los Angeles Times is out with the first of a lengthy multi-part series on autism, and leads with a provocative claim: "Two decades into the boom, however, the balance of evidence suggests that it is more a surge in diagnosis than in disease." The Times doesn't appear to take the disease lightly, only pointing out evidence from researchers that "some of the same experts say that in the sweeping effort to find autism, some children are being mislabeled." The article also cites a 2009 survey of parents that found 40 percent of children who were previously diagnosed with the disease "no longer had the diagnosis." Duke University's Dr. Allen Francis told the newspaper that the increase in autism has more to do with labeling. "People don't change that fast," he said. "Labels do." [The Los Angeles Times]
  • Young vs. Old drinking problems. It's hard to read too much into this small, Scotland-based case study that questioned "36 people aged 35 to 50 from eight friendship groups." But, questioned by researchers, the trend was that the middle-aged used volunteering as a designated driver as a way to ensure that he/she didn't drink at all that night. Seems sensible. As The Telegraph reports it, the research had less to do with the ways to cut back on drinking and more on highlighting the notion that older drinkers have just as big of a drinking problem as the young, but they do it in less obvious ways. "When it comes to alcohol consumption, middle aged drinkers like to think they are 'older and wiser' than they were in their 20s. ... However, as the discussions progressed, stories of recent heavy drinking contradicted these claims." [The Telegraph]

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