Monday, 30 January 2012

Hypertrophy Hypothesis of Autism put to the Test.

A hypothesis must be testable to qualify as a hypothesis. Then it must be tested, failing falsification many times in many different ways, before being accepted as a 'Theory'.

This is why your theory about vaccines gets laughed at, while your hypothesis about vaccines gets you hummed at.

The most common version of the Hypertrophy Hypothesis of Autism states that the epigenetic changes that are required to produce an autistic individual are acquired over one or more generations where the following conditions are satisfied:

1) The mother's food was very regular.
2) The mother's food was fully nutritious.
3) The mother never genuinely believed that starvation was an option for her family.

In order to test this part of the hypothesis, we would need to find two populations, as similar in ancestry as possible, where one population had suffered considerable periods of widespread starvation but the other had not.

Planet earth, with all it's separate nation states and laws, provides a huge laboratory rich with data. If only we can work out how to mine it...

Last year, a South Korean study found an estimate for the autism rate within their country by screening large numbers of children. The criteria for 'autism' were very loose so the research gave us a figure of approximately 2.5% of South Korean children having some form of autism.

If we sent the same team to North Korea, to perform the same testing on North Korean children, the Hypertrophy Hypothesis makes the following prediction:

Autism rates in the North will be significantly lower than autism rates in the South, even after adjusting for all other known risk factors.

Getting permission to do the research may be a bit of a problem. However, if the autism rate is likely to be lower than the South's, then the North might be just interested...

PS. Still hung up on the 'Neanderthal Hypothesis of Autism'? There's a test for that too. In the meantime, find me 100 full-blood ethnic south Africans with Autism and we can say *goodnight darling* to the Neanderthal story.