Editor's note: In the wake of our original report on a paper exploring a possible link between high-fructose corn syrup and autism and the followup critique we posted by science writer Emily Willingham, the authors of the paper asked for a chance to respond. Below you'll find, first, the response by Renee Dufault and David Wallinga, M.D., and then a reply from Willingham.
From Renee Dufault and David Wallinga:
Since our scientific paper “A macroepigenetic approach to identify factors responsible for the autism epidemic in the United States” was published a few weeks ago in the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Epigenetics, it has attracted a lot of discussion. We generally welcome that, especially when the discussion includes us, but much of it hasn’t. So, we’re eager to lay out for the public what our study does and doesn’t say.
Contrary to what’s been implied, our current paper does not allege consumption of HFCS causes autism. Rather, our model shows the science of how it may be one important risk factor of many that contributes to a cumulative or “total load” of risks. When we say “total load” we are referring to the accumulation of several risk factors, including nutrition, exposures to toxic chemicals, physical and emotional stressors, and more.