Science News

Autism Investigations Take a New Turn

Sat, 4th May 2002

Part of the show Neural Development, spinal injury & spinal cord regeneration

The investigation into autism has taken a new twist, in that a new theory has emerged that autism is an autoimmuine disorder, In other words the result of the body turning upon itself. In the latest work, Simon Murch and colleagues from the Royal Free Hospital studied 25 children with regressive autism, in which symptoms begin between the age of 1 and 2. In 23 of the children, they found antibodies towards the same sites of the intestine. None of the children without autism had these traits. According to Murch, the report's author, if the autoimmune process sets in at an early stage, it can impair brain development and lead to autism. Other immuinologists are not convinced. Derek Jewell at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford says that the molecules could simply be the result of inflammation. He says, "if it doesn't mean that autism is an autoimmune disorder."
Show featuring autism expert Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen.


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