Thursday, May 19, 2011

Clinic Notes: More Links to Autism Reported

This week two studies found links to an increased risk of having a child with autism. A study at the University of California at Davis found mothers who had fever during pregnancy and a difficult labor were more likely to have a child with autism.
A second study also from the University of California at Davis found that women who were obese before becoming pregnant, or suffered from hypertension, or diabetes were more likely to have children with autism. Some of these correlations were large--mothers were as much as twice as likely to have a child with autism if these factors were present. Well, anybody who keeps up with the research into the causes of autism is seeing a steadily increasing list. I am almost to the point of asking what does not cause autism. Forty years ago when I was a graduate student in a medical psychology program the research on cancer was very similar. It seemed that everyday a new study came out reporting an association between a variable and cancer. Often the follow up research was not supportive, but we still do not know exactly what causes cancer. Fortunately, we understand enough about cancer to develop effective therapies. And it will be the same with autism.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Clinic Notes: Autism Rates Are Up Again

What would a recent study on the rates of autism find? Well, if you guessed another increase you would be correct. Autism rates in South Korea are reported at 1 in 38 children. The sample was large 55,000 ages 7-12. That compares to 1 in 110 in the United States. While most studies, including the one in the US, looked at children in special ed programs, the one in South Korea looked at the prevalence of autism in the entire population.