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New autism news

The term “autism” was coined in 1911 by a Swiss psychiatrist named Eugen Bleuler. It applied to only adult schizophrenics and later became the term to diagnose children with schizophrenia. Regardless of the term, medical and psychological diagnoses were rarely correct at that time. It’s only been within the last 50 years that true knowledge and awareness of autism has become popular.

Within the past ten years, celebrities like Jenny McCarthy have brought awareness to popular culture about what autism is and how to protect your children from an increased risk. Because of books like Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism, by McCarthy, and many others, Americans have become interested in learning more about the disability that could affect their own children.

Controversy surrounds everything attached to autism. While scientists try to prove if children immunized or vaccines and autism are connected, parents must decide whether or not to take a chance and immunize saying, “They haven’t proved it does, but they haven’t proved it doesn’t.” It’s hard to know what to do especially considering there’s not very much known about the cause.

According to a 2007 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of 150 children and one out of 94 boys will develop autism. As with most disabilities, this doesn’t only affect the person, but also the family, community and country. The Autism Society of America (ASA) estimates that “the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism ranges from $3.5 million to $5 million, and that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism.”

Autism develops within the first three years of a person’s life, and according to the ASA some signs include:
• Delay in spoken language
• Strong use of motor mannerism (“talking with their hands”)
• Little or no eye contact
• Little or no interest in relationships with peers
• Little or no make-believe play
• Easy fixation on parts of objects

In recent autism news found in Science News, three different studies point to brain molecules’ connectivity as a possible autism culprit. In one of these studies, scientists found that only 65 percent of the 14,000 autistic people studied have a “variant.” The conclusion with that is because only 65 percent of those with autism have the variant, there must be other genetic and environmental factors involved.

The “variant” in this study was found on chromosome five (one of the 23 found in our DNA) between two genes that carried special encoding for cells. The variants are two molecules responsible for the encoding connectivity named cadherin 9 and cadherin 10. Cadherons are cell adhesion proteins responsible for binding cells to a surface. It’s a bit confusing, yes, but basically all you have to know is this: the genes in chromosome five that include these cadherins put a person at a higher risk of developing autism.

This study further confirms the belief that autism is caused by brain connectivity problems. Cadherin 10 was found in the frontal cortex of the brain, which is the part of the brain most affected by autism. Because a big part of cell adhesion proteins’ jobs is to make sure neurons get to the right place, the severity of them not working properly is a step in the right direction in further understanding autism.

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