< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://caltechgirlsworld.mu.nu/" /> Not Exactly Rocket Science: New ideas on Autism, or, Inflammation Really Stinks

Monday, November 15, 2004

New ideas on Autism, or, Inflammation Really Stinks

Kevin has some interesting news on possible causes of Autism here.
I said some of this in his comments, but this is a little more coherent.

What can I say? It looks promising. We know that in utero exposure to the inflammatory response (specifically, a group of inflammation-related molecules known as cytokines) is associated with increased risk of developing schizophrenia, and that there may be some functional similarities between autistic brains and schizophrenic brains. Not that autistics are schizophrenics, or vice versa, but rather that their brains display some of the same alterations and respond to some of the same medications.

But one big caveat: this is new. NEW. There's not a lot of corroboration in the literature yet. I would hate to see such promising research get lost in the din created by hyperexcitable parents searching a cure or a cause. Remember vaccinations? That was shown to be WRONG (K. M. Madsen ET AL., Pediatrics 112, 604 (2003) and L. Smeeth ET AL., Lancet. 2004 Sep 11;364(9438):963-9.)

Interestingly, on the Johns Hopkins webpage discussing this research, one of the researchers says that he was influenced to do this study because a larger than expected percentage of moms in his clinic were Rheumatoid Arthritis patients, and later he discovered high rates of auto-immune diseases in many of his patients' families. For those of you unfamiliar with RA, it's an auto-immune disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the synovium (joint lining) and eventually destruction of the joints. A better description is found here, courtesy of the nice folks at the Arthritis Foundation.

RA sucks. Let me tell you firsthand (pun intended). It doesn't need any more reasons to be a rotten thing to have.


At Monday, November 15, 2004 10:27:00 PM, Blogger Boudicca said...

I have a child (Son#2) we thought at one point might be Autistic. He is a really bright little boy, but luckily we were NEVER misdiagnosed, it was just a possibility listed amongst many. Turns out he has an apraxia of speech. For some reason, I like to read about any knew finds they have on Autism. Thanks for posting this.

At Tuesday, November 16, 2004 2:10:00 AM, Blogger Jay Solo said...

I find autism fascinating because I find Asperger's and the "geek syndrome" theory fascinating. After learning about the whole spectrum, I could relate, and also thought my nephew seemed to fit.

As for vaccinations, it's nice to see the mention and cite of it being discredited. Sadly, that hasn't stopped people from clinging to that as "fact" all along.


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