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New study will investigate the influence of environmental factors in autism


Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a group of developmental disabilities that are caused by an abnormality in the brain.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 500 (2/1,000) to 1 in 150 children (6.7/1,000) have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and four boys are diagnosed to every one girl. ASDs range from a severe form, autistic disorder (classic autism) to a mild form, Asperger syndrome. If a child has symptoms of either disorder but does not meet the specific criteria of either, he/she is diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PPD-NOS).

The new study:
Scott Faber, MD, a specialist in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) will lead a team of scientists for this pilot project that aims to study the effects of environmental factors on this debilitating set of disorders. Duquesne University's H.M. "Skip" Kingston, Ph.D., will conduct the analytical tasks providing biochemimarker data. At the conclusion of the feasibility phase, the work will be expanded with funding from other sources, both public and private. According to Scott Faber, MD, the lead investigator, "the Alcoa grant gives The Children's Hospital an opportunity to explore the possible connections that may exist between environmental factors and autism."

Analyses of samples from autistic  children for metabolic biochemical assessment will be performed by using the Biochemimarker(TM) Discovery Products provided by Applied Isotope Technologies ("AIT").

Matt Pamuku, CEO of AIT said, "The products offered by AIT, especially the consumable kits are tailor-made for this pioneering work. Through accurate profiling of biologically significant mercury species as a function of response to environment exposure, for example, some of the questions concerning thimerosal -- a mercury containing vaccine preservative also known as thiomersal -- might be answered." Mr. Pamuku added, "In the future, such measurements will reveal new information that may lead to better health risk assessment and early intervention choices for ASD similar to the currently mandated PKU tests that are done for all newborn babies in the US." PKU, or phenylketonuria, is an inborn error of metabolism that affects 1 in 10,000 babies. Identification of PKU in children at birth allows immediate intervention through a special diet that circumvents severe ASD-like disabilities.

Mr. Pamuku stated "There is an urgent need for an accurate biochemical diagnostic tool that will permit accurate assessment and early intervention of ASD which afflicts as many as 1 in 150 children in the USA today."

Related EVISA Resources

Link database: Information related to autism
Link database: Information about the toxicity of mercury and its compounds
Link database: Information about environmental mercury pollution

Related EVISA News (newest first)

May 14, 2008: Autism risk linked to distance from power plants and other mercury-releasing sources
  November 16, 2006: A silent pandemic: Industrial chemicals are impairing the brain development of children worldwide
May 3, 2006: Texas Study Relates Autism to Environmental Mercury
March 24, 2006: PLSG Invests $100,000 in Applied Isotope Technologies, Inc., for Development of New Technologies for Environmental and Biological Analyses
April 4, 2005: New results about toxicity of thimerosal
February 11, 2005: New findings about Thimerosal Neurotoxicity

last time updated: May 25, 2024


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