EDITORIAL

Data in public health

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Science  17 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6326, pp. 669
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam9455

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Summary

In 1854, physician John Snow helped curtail a cholera outbreak in a London neighborhood by mapping cases and identifying a central public water pump as the potential source. This event is considered by many to represent the founding of modern epidemiology. Data and analysis play an increasingly important role in public health today. This can be illustrated by examining the rise in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), where data from varied sources highlight potential factors while ruling out others, such as childhood vaccines, facilitating wise policy choices.