Autism is mysterious, because we know that its cause is partly environmental and partly genetic, but it's hard to pinpoint each part of the puzzle. Researchers have used the age when a child speaks his first word as a tool for identifying a new gene linked to autism. And the question of whether vaccines cause the condition just won't go away.
Researchers have discovered that a gene that is most active in the brain regions involved with language and thought is also involved in this syndrome. Researcher Daniel Geschwind says, "This gene?may predispose children to autism."
A team studied the DNA of almost 300 families with at least one autistic child. They also determine the age at which the children in the family learned to talk. The study did not include any children who had never spoken. The scientists found the gene was most common in families with autistic boys. Less of an association appeared in families with autistic boys and girls, or in families with autistic girls only. Researcher Maricela Alarcon says, "Autism strikes boys three times as often as girls. This finding may partly explain why." The 3:1 gender ratio between boys and girls also applies to attention deficit disorders, learning disabilities and language disorders.
But some scientists decided there was no evidence for a link between the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination and autism. These findings were based on a community sample of almost 250 children aged between 10 and 12, born from a population of 57 000, born between 1990 and 1991 in one area of Southern England. The sample was made up of 98 children who had an autism, and two comparison groups: 52 children with special educational needs, but no evidence of autism, and 90 children who were developing normally. All the children had been vaccinated against MMR. The children who were autistic and those with special educational needs were less likely to receive the second dose of MMR, possibly reflecting parental concern about vaccination following the diagnosis of a developmental abnormality. This is now the third, and largest, study that has failed to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
But a new peer-reviewed scientific/medical case study by researchers David A. Geier and Mark R. Geier confirms that many children with autism suffer from mercury poisoning. Government health officials have finally admitted that childhood vaccines can make a rare disorder worse, leading to autism-like symptoms in a few vulnerable children. Many parents have tried to sue the government over this and lost, but the parents of an autistic girl in Georgia have finally won their lawsuit. CNN News says that "reported cases of autism have been rising in the U.S., even after thimerosal was removed from most childhood vaccines. However, some experts believe the rise is due to an expansion of the definition of autism and related conditions, and a desire to diagnose children so they qualify for special services and aid."
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