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    Mar 2009

    Autism researchers shifting away from genes - Scoliosis next?

    I know this isn't an Autism board but sometimes it's useful to see the latest thinking and research on other childhood disorders. It's hard to get a good feel for what might be going on when you only read about Scoliosis which doesn't get a lot of funding.

    For a long time Autism was thought to be a genetic disorder. Genes have been discovered that appear to correlate with Autism and if one identical twin has the disease the other will have it roughly 50% of the time. That's 4 times higher than Scoliosis which has a concordance rate of just 13% among identical twins. Until recently most Autism research dollars went towards genetics but today that's rapidly changing.

    Until recently, about 90 percent of autism research has focused on genetics, and only perhaps 10 percent on environmental factors, said Dr. Gary Goldstein, chairman of the scientific board of Autism Speaks, a national research and advocacy group. In the coming years, he expects the ratio to be 1 to 1.
    Why is the focus of Autism research shifting? Evidence is mounting that Autism is triggered by an environmental insult in genetically susceptible children. This damage could be triggered by a common childhood infection or even an environmental toxin.

    Right now a lot of Scoliosis research dollars go towards genetics. I believe that very soon Scoliosis researchers will shift their focus towards the environment just as Autism researchers are doing now.

    Autism news and research

    July 16, 2007 - Schizophrenia and Autism linked to flu virus

    Of course not every woman who gets a cold during pregnancy will have a schizophrenic offspring, that's because of… presumably because of the genotype, you have to have a certain set of genes to be susceptible to these environmental insults.
    Feb 12, 2008 - Some Cases Of Autism May Be Traced To The Immune System Of Mothers During Pregnancy

    New research from the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute and Center for Children's Environmental Health has found that antibodies in the blood of mothers of children with autism bind to fetal brain cells, potentially interrupting healthy brain development.
    Nov 16, 2004 - Autistic kids have inflamed brains

    These findings reinforce the theory that immune activation in the brain is involved in autism
    Jan 11, 2009 - California's Autism Increase Not Due To Better Counting, Diagnosis

    results from the study also suggest that research should shift from genetics to the host of chemicals and infectious microbes in the environment that are likely at the root of changes in the neurodevelopment of California's children.
    "It's time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism in California," said UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a professor of environmental and occupational health and epidemiology and an internationally respected autism researcher.
    Aug 13, 2007 - Researchers now believe that autism can be caused by genes in combination with environmental triggers.

    As the ranks of children diagnosed with autism grow, researchers are focusing more on such efforts. They are casting an ever-widening net to try to detect possible environmental factors -- such as chemicals or infections -- that could be interacting with genetic risk factors.
    Last edited by Dingo; 04-13-2009 at 03:04 PM.

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