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SCIENCE
July 10, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
An immune system that ensures survival is one of the earliest gifts from a mother to her child. But sometimes, that gift can be a Trojan horse, sending soldiers that are programmed to attack the body's own antigens into the fetus, where they interfere with brain development. The result is maternal autoantibody related (MAR) autism, which may account for as much as 23% of the cases of that spectrum of brain disorders. Now UC Davis researchers believe they have found the targets of these maternal autoantibodies, a potential step in the path toward preventive treatment for women contemplating pregnancy.
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NEWS
May 5, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Children conceived in winter are more likely to develop autism than those conceived in other months of the year, according to a study of more than 7 million births in California. The findings suggest that at least some cases of the disorder may be linked to infectious diseases or other environmental facts, say researchers from UC Davis who conducted the study. Epidemiologist Irva Hertz-Picciotto, graduate student Ousseny Zerbo and their colleagues studied birth records of more than 7.2 million children born in California from 1990 to 2002.
HEALTH
June 21, 2010 | By Amanda Leigh Mascarelli, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Though the causes of autism are unclear, and many researchers believe that environmental factors play some kind of role, they are sure of one thing: Genes are strongly involved. Scientists once harbored hopes that autism might be linked to a handful of genetic mutations that would clearly explain why someone develops it. But the genetic roots of autism (known these days as autism spectrum disorders because behaviors and severity differ widely) are proving much trickier to untangle than anticipated . One problem is that the number of people in most studies has been limited; another is that the small tweaks in genes that scientists have linked to autism so far are very rare in the human population.
NEWS
April 28, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
Autism treatment works best the earlier a child is diagnosed and begins therapy. A new screening test for babies at their 1-year-old check-up may be reliable enough to be used in pediatricians' offices around the world, said the authors of a review of the method. The screening test was performed on 10,479 1-year-olds in San Diego. The babies were the patients of 137 different pediatricians. Parents or guardians gave their permission for the babies to be screened. Using a checklist that took about five minutes to complete, doctors asked questions about the child's use of eye contact, sounds, words, gestures, object recognition and other forms of communication.
HEALTH
December 7, 2009 | By Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan >>>
James Coman's son has an unusual skill. The 7-year-old, his father says, can swallow six pills at once. Diagnosed with autism as a toddler, he had been placed on an intense regimen of supplements and medications aimed at treating the disorder. He was injected with vitamin B12 and received intravenous infusions of a drug used to leach mercury and other metals from the body. He took megadoses of vitamin C, a hormone and a drug that suppresses testosterone. This complex regimen -- documented in court records as part of a bitter custody battle over the Chicago boy between Coman, who opposes the therapies, and his wife -- may sound unusual, but it isn't.
HEALTH
August 7, 2006 | From Times wire reports
Different genes may be responsible for causing autism in boys than in girls, researchers said last week, a finding that may help explain why the condition is more common in boys. And, writing in the journal Molecular Genetics, they said other genes might play a role in the early onset and late onset forms of autism.
NATIONAL
January 11, 2007 | From Times Wire Reports
Researchers at 11 universities will create a databank of DNA samples from 3,000 autism patients in an effort to identify different kinds of autism and develop treatments. The University of Michigan will lead the three-year, $10-million effort funded by the Simons Foundation, the school announced this week. The New York philanthropic group aims to spend $100 million long-term to find a cure for the disorder that affects one in 200 children.
OPINION
June 15, 2003
Re "Brother's Wish to Help His Sister Is Winning Formula in Essay Contest," June 11: Daniel Boyce has accomplished a great deal toward curing one of the most serious aspects of autism. His story and the picture of him with his beautiful sister Suzie will go a long way to dispel the erroneous notion that persons with autism are not capable of affection or family relationships. Theresa DeBell Beverly Hills
SCIENCE
December 23, 2006 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
French scientists have identified genetic mutations in a small number of children with autism that could provide insight into the biological basis of the disorder. They sequenced a gene called SHANK3 in more than 200 people with autism spectrum disorders, which include autism, and found mutations in the gene in members of three families, according to the report in the journal Nature Genetics.
OPINION
February 27, 2009
Re "A dose of reality on autism," editorial, Feb. 25 The court decision that additives in the measles vaccine do not cause autism may not be the final word on the issue. As history has shown, officials tend to downplay beliefs of parents or other nonprofessionals. But parents have brought needed attention to this important issue, and the demand now should be that government and the pharmaceutical industry dedicate adequate resources to the discovery of any and all possible environmental causes for autism.
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