Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Cause of Autism!

This is wonderful news, but it still doesn't answer the question of "how can we prevent autism?"

FROM NBC: Science has long known that autism is some type of developmental disorder in the brain. But there's never been a definitive answer for a cause. Now a Cleveland Clinic researcher released a study that may provide one.
The center part of your brain... called the corpus collosum... allows each side of the brain to communicate.

The study found them to be much smaller in kids with autism.
When five year old Paul first came to the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism, he could not communicate and had serious behavioral problems. But after early intervention, he has made much progress.

Doctor Thomas Frazier thinks autism is linked to the size of the corpus collosum in the brain... Dr. Thomas Frazier/Cleveland Clinic "So you can imagine if your corpus collosum is not working right then the two sides of the brain aren't going to communicate correctly." People with autism typically are not able to process complex social and emotional cues. If a smaller corpus collusum means brain neurons can't develop, it may explain part of the disorder and scientists can start looking for the genes responsible. "The best way to study the genetic side is not to study every kid with autism like they have the same disorder. It's to actually look at more specific aspects of the disorder like brain structure."

It's hope for Paul's mom. Amy Witzigreuter/Autistic Boy's Mother "This is proof that there are areas of their brains that are different and affect the way they develop." Doctor Aletta Sinoff runs the clinic's autism program. She's seen first hand how early intervention treatment helps many children with autism go mainstream. She hopes Dr. Frazier's research develops a way to actually measure if treatment improves brain connections.

Dr. Aletta Sinoff / Cleveland Clinic "That would allow us to predict for particular children what treatment works better than others." While a handful of genes have been linked to autism, Doctor Frazier thinks there's dozens more yet to be found.
Witzigreuter "If in our lifetime we can not only understand and identify those genes but manipulate them to change the outcome of autism wow, that just makes everyday working with your child easier." Doctor Frazier's study actually looked at several other studies that involved m-r-i scans on children with autism. When he and a colleague put them all together, that's when they noticed the measured difference in size of the corpus collosum.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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