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Mothers of children with autism earn less

Mothers of children with autism earn, on average, about 35 percent less than mothers of children with other health problems that prevented them from engaging in activities that their peers could do, a study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found. They made 56 percent less than mothers whose children had no health limitation.

The researchers looked at national data for the families of 67,531 children collected between 2002 and 2008 in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

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The mothers of children with autism were 6 percent less likely to be employed and worked fewer hours, on average, than mothers of children with no limitation. There was no significant impact on fathers’ income. But overall income for families that include a child with autism was 28 percent less than for those of children with no health limitation.

Such economic impacts are especially significant given that specialized care for children with autism is expensive and often not fully covered by insurance, the authors note.

BOTTOM LINE: Mothers who have children with autism work fewer hours and are paid considerably less than mothers of children with other health limitations or with none.

CAUTIONS: The researchers could not definitively link decreased income to the incidence of autism. They did not account for other factors that could have affected family income.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Pediatrics, April 2012

Consumption of white rice linked to type 2 diabetes risk

Frequently eating white rice raises a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new analysis of research on the topic by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The authors reviewed four large studies, including a total of 352,384 participants who were free of diabetes at the start of the studies and whose rice intake was tracked over time. The studies were conducted in Australia, China, Japan, and the United States. Among all participants, 13,284 people developed diabetes during the study periods, which ranged from four to 22 years.

The authors found that each daily serving of white rice was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes of about 11 percent. Using that figure, the authors estimated that 167 cases of diabetes would occur annually for every 100,000 middle-aged people in the US for each serving of white rice added to their diets.

The authors noted that the link between white rice and diabetes was more pronounced in women than in men and more significant in Asian populations.

BOTTOM LINE: People who eat a lot of white rice are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

CAUTIONS: The review looked at just a few studies and could not account for socioeconomic differences among all participants. The review did not look at the effects of brown rice or of substituting it for white rice.

WHERE TO FIND IT: BMJ, March 16

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