Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Clinic Notes: New Autism Screening Recommendations

This week the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all children be screened for autism at 18 months of age and again at 24 months. No doubt early interventions by Speech-Language Pathologists, Psychologists, ABA Therapists, and other professionals will better lives for children with autism. At least that's the theory. But I'm worried about logistics. I already have a full clinic schedule and waiting lists of children that I can't get to or refer anyplace. If we are serious about treating all the children diagnosed then we are going to have to mobilize more financial and manpower resources then we have now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Clinic Notes: Video Clip Diagnosis of Autism

Today's Schafer Report (October 16, 2007) has an article on a free new web site that features video clips of toddlers displaying autistic behavior such as stimming, echolalia, fascinated by a spinning cup, and other early signs of autism. The creators of the tape caution that these behaviors can be seen in normally developing children, but alert parents to the fact that an early evaluation might be advisable. As the article points out parents are often the first to recognize that something is not right. Unfortunately, parents, especially first time parents, wait too long. If you have concerns about your child or are just interested in the video clips go to http://www.autismspeaks.org

Monday, October 08, 2007

Clinic Notes: Predicting Autism

We just completed a study, which found among other things, that the mother having an infection while pregnant was a statistically significant predictor of autism in male children. Now a new published study finds that there is a link between schizophrenia, autism, and flu in the mother. Previous studies have found that flu in mothers during pregnancy
increases the risk of schizophrenia 3-7 times. Schizophrenia and autism are thought to have a genetic component triggered by some pre or postnatal factor. As many as 21% of the cases of schizophrenia may be related to flu in the mother. It is not the virus itself that causes schizophrenia but the body's immune system reacting to the infection. The immune system's response to an infection at the cellular level releases proteins called cytokines. Theoretically, the fetus is affected by a cytokine called interleukin-6. If a pregnant mouse is injected with interleukin-6 her off spring display schizophrenia or autistic like behavior.