Does TB Testing Cause Allism?

This post originally appeared on the Field Notes on Allistics Tumblr.

So the CDC recently reported that 67 of 68 children now have some degree of allism.  Naturally, the Internet has exploded with commentary about these new statistics – and so has our extended family.

My sisters (I’ll call them Anna and Elsa) have both climbed onto the popular “tuberculosis testing causes allism!” bandwagon.  Now, I’ll admit that the first symptoms of allism do show up as early as six months, when the first TB test is given, and that milder cases of allism present in toddlerhood, when kids are getting TB tests for daycare and school.  It is also true that the instances of allism have risen at the same time the number of active tuberculosis cases have dropped (at least here in the U.S.).  And, yes, both Al Jr and Alia had their TB tests at six months, twelve months, and each year thereafter.

But just because these things occur at the same time does not mean they are related.

To make this point to my sisters, I gave them the same “correlation does not equal causation” test I give my college freshmen: because both the number of drownings and the number of ice cream sales go up in the summer, do we assume that eating ice cream causes drowning?  Of course not.  Honestly, it’s the kind of reasoning I expect from allistic people with their obvious cognitive deficiencies.  Not from normal individuals who are perfectly capable of gathering and analyzing the data for themselves.

Nevertheless, my sisters are dead set against TB testing for their children.  Or I should say, for their potential children: Anna isn’t even married yet, and Elsa and her wife are expecting their first child any day now.

Does anyone know if it’s safe to let a 10-year-old, an 8-year-old, and/or a 7-year-old play with an infant who may or may not have TB?


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