Sweden, shoes, floors, and the brain

Sweden is the world leader in research that relates shoes and flooring to the human brain.

A March 31, 2009 report in Scientific American (originally published in Environmental Health News) gives the latest chapter, about work performed by Carl-Gustav Bornehag of Karlstad University:

Scientists Find ‘Baffling’ Link between Autism and Vinyl Flooring

Swedish children who live in homes with vinyl floors are more likely to have autism, according to a new study, but what’s behind the link is unclear

The new research echoes, if distantly, the study published several years ago by Jarl Flensmark of Malmo, Sweden, in the journal Medical Hypotheses. Flensmark argues that:

Heeled footwear began to be used more than 1,000 years ago, and led to the occurrence of the first cases of schizophrenia … Industrialisation of shoe production increased schizophrenia prevalence. Mechanisation of the production started in Massachusetts, spread from there to England and Germany, and then to the rest of western Europe. A remarkable increase in schizophrenia prevalence followed the same pattern.

(Thanks to investigator Rebecca Skloot for bringing the floor research to our attention.)