A new study carried out by a team of American researchers led by Michael Waldman, an economics professor at Cornell University, have found that watching television for long periods may trigger autism in young children. Even though the findings of this study were not ‘conclusive’, the researchers involved in the study claim that they have established a correlation between the number of hours that children less than three years of age watch television, and the rates of autism among children in four states.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which manifests in to delays in social interaction, communication and imaginative play in children and this disorder usually onsets prior to the age of 3 years in children. Autism can be treated with a wide array of therapies, which can improve the behavioral and cognitive functions of individuals affected by autistic disorders.

This study has found that the 17% growth in autism rates in two of the four states studied, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, could be a result of watching television for long periods. Watching television has long been considered as harmful to young children, especially to those under the age of three, in spite of the fact that scientists were not able to establish clear links between television watching and child development problems. Many parents of autistic children have reported that the behavior of their children is adversely affected by television. However, the findings of this study have sparked angry debates across the United States, since it could not establish a definite link between autism and television.

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