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Possible Cure For Autism

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the umbrella-for-the-rainman dept.

Biotech 431

Henry V .009 writes "Scientists in New Jersey are claiming that children with autism are unable to metabolize key fatty acids that fight brain-damaging inflammations. They have already developed urine/blood tests to identify at-risk children. A preventive cure to autism may be as simple as a 'therapeutic cocktail' of fatty acids. Human trials could start later this year."

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Oblig. Definitely fatty acids... (4, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077280)

... definitely, definitely.

Hey cool - my med school - UMDNJ (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077850)

They also take care of the largest population of patients with Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, where the people self mutilate themselves, biting off their lips/tongues,fingers, etc. They often have most of their teeth prophylatically extracted to prevent bodily harm. What's worse is that they know when they are about to start doing it, and will ask for help to be restrained.

New Jersey is also the state with the most Nobel prize laureates (although, I'm not sure about that now, since a few died).

Re:Hey cool - my med school - UMDNJ (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077880)

New Jersey is also the state with the most Nobel prize laureates (although, I'm not sure about that now, since a few died).

      You'd think they'd have figured that little bit out by now.

This is not good! (5, Funny)

kraemate (1065878) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077288)

What will happen now to the legions of slashdotters who claim to suffer from autism/aspergers ? How can i relate to Knuth now? I'm doomed.

Re:This is not good! (-1, Troll)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077484)

They'll have no more excuse to be rude fucking assholes!

Too often I see people being cut some slack because they have xxx syndrome. Give it a label and bad behavior is suddenly OK. "No he isn't a rude prick, he's got xxxx, and famous person yyy had this.". "He's not slack about spelling and grammar, he's dyslexic..."

Sure, often said people are bright, but it is no guarantee. If the person is very hard to deal with then you waste a lot of time mopping up. In one place I worked, we had a very bright guy with some condition or other, but it absorbed about 50% of a senior experienced person's time to keep him doing the right stuff. As a result the experienced person had insufficient time to bring their wisdom to bear on the problems.

Re:This is not good! (2, Insightful)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077694)

i agreed with you until you ragged on dyslexia.. because that one ACTUALLY IS A DISORDER and is older than the "fad" of making everything a disorder - and it actually involves the brain having a problem with spatial implacement of visual and auditory stimuli. My brother has it, and he's smarter than most people by far. His spelling is great, and he reads 2 living languages, and 3 dead languages - he just reads and writes slower.

Re:This is not good! (4, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077932)

They'll have no more excuse to be rude fucking assholes!

Just like you.

Autism is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder, not "smart people acting weird". Just because Hollywood somehow made it glamorous to be autistic, doesn't mean it's remotely accurate.

Re:This is not good! (2, Interesting)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077550)

Knuth has neither.

Re:This is not good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077724)

he's a weird mofo regardless

Re:This is not good! (5, Insightful)

Deliberate_Bastard (735608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077716)

Wishful thinking, really.

People want to believe that Aspies are fakers, because Aspies generally inspire dislike, which makes people want an excuse for disliking them.

The issue is, if people are really faking, and they *can* be likable, what is it they need an excuse for? Saying that someone is faking Asperger's to have an excuse is a bit like saying someone is faking Tourette's to have an excuse for shouting obscenities in public. If they *didn't* have Tourette's, why would they be shouting them in the first place?

(Because it's a lot more pleasant to fit in than to not fit in, but have an excuse, even if the excuse is accepted.)

Re:This is not good! (1)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077816)

So anyone who is an asshole or shouts obscenities in public should be given a free pass, because why would they do those things if they didn't have a psychological disorder.

Re:This is not good! (2, Insightful)

Deliberate_Bastard (735608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077860)

Who said anything about a free pass? Regarding someone as neurologically disordered is hardly a free pass. Hell, the social stigma attached is often far worse than that for being an asshole.

Re:This is not good! (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077888)

So, um, is your username totally unironic then?

A blood test eh? (1, Troll)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077294)

I guess all those "high functioning aspergers" people on the Internet are going to finally realize they don't have some excuse anymore when it turns out they don't have autism at all.

This is great. It's about time they tied this down to something that can be tested for so the people with real problems can get help, and all the Internet whiners can learn to deal with life instead of always searching for a cop-out.

Re:A blood test eh? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077390)

You seem to have a strong opinion on this... were you also diagnosed with asperger's syndrome?

Re:A blood test eh? (4, Funny)

slughead (592713) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077486)

This is great. It's about time they tied this down to something that can be tested for so the people with real problems can get help, and all the Internet whiners can learn to deal with life instead of always searching for a cop-out.

I've been using chat programs and on online forums since 1996 and have never seen someone flame someone else and then later claim to have aspergers.

So, I just have to ask: What the hell straw man are you roundhousing to the face, chuck?

Re:A blood test eh? (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077746)

When did I claim to have aspergers?

Re:A blood test eh? (2, Insightful)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077522)

And what about those of us who have been finally diagnosed through traditional means, but sadly a decade or two too late for therapy to actually make a difference in our lives, due to our being told over and over again through the years that we were just your "Internet whiners".

Don't be too quick with the label. As a society, we've started to overdiagnose many conditions, and that hampers proper medical care. But it is just as bad, if not worse, to underdiagnose those who are suffering.

Re:A blood test eh? (3, Interesting)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077650)

Sorry to reply to my own comment, but as long as we are discussing Asperger's and such, I though I'd add this note to the original issue of urine/blood based diagnosis:

Apparently, those suffering from "non-chelated pervasive developmental delay not otherwise specified or Asperger's disorder" do not have "significantly increased median coproporphyrin levels", which is the method used in the article to diagnose the more severe forms of autism spectrum disorders. (Note: There is an increase in the median urinary porphyrins for those with Asperger's and PDD-NOS, but not sufficient to be statistically significant based upon the authors' criteria.)

Source: Nataf R, Skorupka C, Amet L, Lam A, et al. "Porphyrinuria in childhood autistic disorder: implications for environmental toxicity." Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2006;214:99-108
...and related Wikipedia Article [wikipedia.org] .

Re:A blood test eh? (0, Troll)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077718)

If you can post a comment like that, then you don't have a serious mental disorder. Period. Everyone always forgets that the DSM diagnostic criteria require the disorder to seriously affect the ability to do things like... post articulate messages on the Internet.

So shut the fuck up. You aren't special. You are a normal geek, you are smarter than most people out there, and you aren't "sick". Stop it with the bullshit.

Re:A blood test eh? (3, Informative)

Deliberate_Bastard (735608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077770)

This is used against autistic individuals on all levels of normal function.

The general argument goes like this:

"It's okay for us to torture autistics, because anyone who can object isn't a real autistic. Therefore no one objects."

http://www.autistics.org/library/whoisautistic.htm l [autistics.org]

Unlearn.

Re:A blood test eh? (2, Interesting)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18078000)

Have you ever actually looked at DSM criterion for a diagnosis? Asperger's or otherwise? There is no prerequisite that the individual must be a babbling idiot before a diagnosis can be applied (heck, Homosexuality used to be a diagnosis in older DSM's).

I'd rather not go into how having this has affected my life, as that is fairly personal to me, but Asperger's Syndrome is vastly different from a diagnosis of "geek" or "smart" or whatever else. And yes, I can suffer from Asperger's and still have the capacity to wish to be seen with some sort of dignity.

There is a chance that, had my condition been diagnosed at the age of 12 rather than at 22, that I could have had a normal relationship with my family and my now-fiancee, rather than being thrown into occasional depressive episodes due to the stress of attempting to associate closely with a neruotypical individual.

You aren't special. You are a normal geek, you are smarter than most people out there, and you aren't "sick".
Give me a break. I wish.

Re:A blood test eh? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077532)

I guess all those "high functioning aspergers" people on the Internet are going to finally realize they don't have some excuse anymore when it turns out they don't have autism at all.

It's about time they tied this down to something that can be tested for so the people with real problems can get help, and all the Internet whiners can learn to deal with life instead of always searching for a cop-out.


How is being autistic anymore of an excuse for not dealing with life than being normal? Life doesn't stop fucking with you just because you have a diagnosable disability. Everybody still has to deal with life regardless of the hand we are dealt. Eventually, everybody has to get past the friday night charades of youth and accept who they are, ravaged faces and lacking in the social graces.

Re:A blood test eh? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18078042)

THen how the hell can I find more people to join my wow raids?

Fat kids.. lol (1)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077306)

Hey kids!!! Eat your cookies!

Fuck that! (1)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077312)


Drink some funky oil cocktail and give up my hugbox? Fuck that, let's get outta here Bram!

fatty acids (2, Funny)

senatorpjt (709879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077328)

So, my daily diet of fried chicken and beefaroni is responsible for me being somewhat social lately? People just said it was bad for me.

I can relate... (0, Flamebait)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077330)

It can be very hard living with Asperger's Syndrome. This is particulary evident when you have to keep many variables in your mind at once such as in any typical programming or scripting Let's go ride BICYCLES!!

I could use a therapeutic cocktail (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077358)

Bombay Gibson, sweet.

Make it a double.

This prevents damage (5, Insightful)

SeanMon (929653) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077406)

it won't cure autism. It sounds like the treatment would prevent the brain from being damaged, not that it would reverse any existing damage, for everyone with The Geek Syndrome.

Re:This prevents damage (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077744)

There is alot more wrong with autistics than just a deficiency of fatty acids. To say this is a potential comprehensive cure for autism would be overhopefully to say the least. There are reasons why autistics are "unable to metabolize key fatty acids". The severe issues autistics have with heavy metals like copper and mercury and how those factor in the causes of autism are now well known.

Furthermore, taking fatty acids wouldn't even fully prevent the brain from being damaged in an autistic. They would just be... less autistic.

Ah hah! (4, Funny)

bryanp (160522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077414)

*looks down at his waistline*

It would appear I have no problem metabolizing fatty acids. I'm definitely safe.

Slashdot quoting (4, Informative)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077436)

I know that spelling, grammar, and punctuation, are lost causes for Slashdot editors, but proper use of quotations is easy. I didn't write the sentence "human trials could start later this year." Nor is it accurate exactly. The only "human trial" starting up later this year is a preliminary study of the effects of fatty acid supplements on autistic children aged 5-7.

Also, I'm not responsible for the story link that pops up a big Printer Dialog when you click it.

Re:Slashdot quoting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077872)

Be kind. Kdawson is autistic.

Autism rates (-1, Troll)

kaan (88626) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077444)

This whole autism topic is rather annoying. Finding a "cure"? Omfg. There's a ton of evidence showing that medical science (pharmaceutical companies, in particular) have basically caused the autism rates we're faced with today.

Over the past 10 or 20 years, there's been a way-more-than-coincidental relationship to the presence of mercury in most shots we give our children and the rates of autism. A quick google for "autism mercury" might give you some interesting reading: http://www.google.com/search?q=autism+mercury [google.com] The latest autism rates are now below 1 in 100 children. Think about that - when you were a kid (however old you are), had you even heard of autism? Today, there are entire wings of schools that are dedicated solely for the autistic children, in addition to schools / learning centers that cater exclusively to autistic kids.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a goddamn shame that so many kids are autistic today. I'm a parent, and I cannot imagine what life would be like if my child were autistic. But this whole topic infuriates me, because the "problem" is apparently caused by the very companies who are now producing a "cure". How convenient. I wonder how many billions of dollars that'll be worth to those pharmaco bastards.

The sad thing is, if you actually compare the data for most diseases for which children are vaccinated, the extreme negative side effects (caused by the drugs / shots, even if only in a small percentage of children) are so, so much worse than if the kid contracts the disease in the first place. Plus, vaccinations produce immunity that is not passed on to your offspring (by mothers), so vaccinations eff with nature's own process of protecting our offspring. Instead, if a child fights an illness naturally, their body will build a natural immunity and their immune system in general will be much better at doing what it's supposed to do - keep the kid healthy.

Re:Autism rates (0, Flamebait)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077474)

You're an idiot, and need to have your tinfoil hat adjusted.

Re:Autism rates (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077524)

Please stop spreading this lie. You are killing people by convincing them to avoid vaccination. It is more likely a result of trans-fats in food. Or a new neurological virus caused by sexual promiscuity (cerebral herpes maybe). How do I know these things? Well, both have increased at the same time as rates of autism. And, both can get a rise out of people by making them feel abused by others or powers at be.

And that, is the Modern Scientific Method.

Re:Autism rates (1, Troll)

kaan (88626) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077792)

Ok, I'll bite.

How much more evidence of trans-fat induced mental illness can you provide than currently exists showing that mercury is a known, proven poison for developing brains? Seriously, one question. That's it. Every doctor on the planet will tell you that mercury is toxic. What evidence exists showing that trans-fats have anything to do with autism? Or brain development?

It's rather suprising how nobody seems to question doctors, pharmacos, or the drones of citizens who read a fucking marketing brochure and think all of their problems are solved with a magical pill or shot. What the hell happened to critical thinking?

Look, as kids in the 80s (or earlier) everyone received a handful of shots, and this was drastically increased around 1990 to be way more than 3 shots. The FDA references citing tolerable amounts of mercury are talking about ONE SHOT. They do not discuss taking that tolerable amount and multiplying it for each shot the kid gets, which results in 4x or 8x or whatever.

Seriously, you think transfats are what's turned a 1 in 2,500 autism rate into 1 in 100 in 10 years? And that mercury in most vaccines and shots has nothing to do with it?

Re:Autism rates (4, Insightful)

DMadCat (643046) | more than 7 years ago | (#18078018)

While I don't agree with the asshat who responded to your original post, I will tell you this. My son displayed the signs of autism far before his two year shots (typically the ones autism is blamed on). Your assessment that it has to be "caused" rather than genetic is flawed.

It took me quite a while to come to grips with the fact that my son has this condition. I've also done a lot of thinking on why so many kids today are being diagnosed with it as opposed to twenty years ago and the answer came from my Mother of all people. She saw nothing wrong with my son. "He's just a little behind" she said. "Your brother didn't start speaking until he was almost three" she said.

Explaining away the condition as some medical conspiracy is ignorance at its finest. Perhaps in the future you should study a little more and get a little more experience with topics you feel you need to comment so strongly on before you make such absurd statements (and no, the internet, while fun, is not the best place to learn if you're looking for facts).

While I appreciate the fact that you took five minutes out of your day to give the matter some thought and you decided that in your limited experience you've never heard of or seen anything that would lead you to believe autism was anything more than mercury poisoning, I'll have to side with the researchers and the doctors and the therapists I've spoken with who have actual years of experience dealing with children afflicted by this condition.

Just because you'd never heard of it in such numbers before doesn't mean they weren't there. They were simply explained away, ignored, or treated quietly while the rest of society went about its business. Not understanding a disease is not the same as it not existing.

Re:Autism rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18078036)

Complete and utter bullshit. There is zero scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism.
Your 1 in 100 statistic is also complete fabrication.
Fucking unscientific loon.

Re:Autism rates (1, Flamebait)

wolfgang_spangler (40539) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077548)

You would sing a different tune if your child contracted polio or smallpox and died.

Freaking moron.

Re:Autism rates (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077778)

You're right, and I feel that the anti-vaccination people are both crazy and dangerous, but you should probably pick some other disease instead of smallpox, which hasn't been a routine vaccination for the citizenry of the US since 1972. Maybe diphtheria or hepatitis B? :)

Re:Autism rates (5, Informative)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077554)

Stop [who.int] trolling [cdc.gov] .

Re:Autism rates (2, Interesting)

Kozz (7764) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077750)

THANK YOU! (Someone please mod parent all the way up!)

After my son was born, I had concerns about thimerosol as a preservative in various vaccines. The way I looked at it, mercury is a known neurotoxin, and I'd rather not introduce it into his system if I could help it. I had concerns. I didn't know the differences between methyl mercury and ethyl mercury (nor do I know much more now as I'm not a chemist, but those articles were helpful).

Shockingly, my wife's OB didn't know squat about my questions, or even what thimerosol was. Our pediatrician, while very good with most everything, was likewise ignorant and somewhat dismissive of my concerns. I'm happy to read any scientific material to help me make my decision, and this stuff would have been a huge help. But in my state of ignorance (at the time), I went ahead with all the vaccines but crossed my fingers, the shadow of doubt far in the back of my mind.

Why can't OBs, GPs and Peds be more informed on this kind of stuff? Oi! I felt when I said the word "thimerosol" I was getting funny looks. I wondered if I knew more (albeit misinformed) than the doc on this topic, and found that alarming.

Re:Autism rates (1)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077576)

Well if they didn't create diseases then what would the growth potential be once they cured everything? You have to think of the stockholders! They have more money than the children anyway.

I think they're coming out with a chickenpox vaccine...now that's a bad idea. Kids sick for a week, then immune, or vaccinate everyone wait a generation for a serious outbreak...

Re:Autism rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077672)

Actually, I don't think they'd vaccinate only once a generation. You'd give it to the kids as they reach some pre-defined age, therefore giving them immunity. It would be a continuous process, like getting DTP vaccine, (diptheria, tetnus, polio), etc etc.

Re:Autism rates (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077870)

As noted above, you're proceeding from the faulty assumption that vaccines are only utilized for a limited period of time. Some vaccinations are maintained in use pretty much permanently, like MMR, DTP, and others.

Additionally, it's well and good that children who get chicken pox are only sick for a short time and very rarely have long-term problems from the disease, but take a look over yonder [cdc.gov] and find out some more before you dismiss it as being no big deal. Specifically, it notes that even amongst children, about one in ten who contract the disease will suffer complications serious enough to see a doctor, and, yes, it's possible for chicken pox to kill. Why take the chance if people can be vaccinated against it?

Re:Autism rates (1)

simple english major (940333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18078030)

For the record, there is now a vaccine for varicella (chickenpox) and they are already requiring it in some areas before children can start school.

Fearmongering (1)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077606)

I'd like to see the data you refer to in the last paragraph of your post. I'm certain the reactions to, say, the polio vaccine are _far_ worse than polio itself. Don't paint "all vaccinations" with a broad brush if you have concerns with a specific vaccine--you'll get labeled as a loon and for good reason. What about flu vaccination for the elderly? Do you oppose that, too?

Also, here [autism-watch.org] is a link that contains information that should do a lot to refute your hypothesized link between thimerosal-preserved vaccinations and autism. I'd like to see the Danish studies to which they refer--I'm a little disappointed they didn't provide a link.

I'm not fond of the big pharmaceutical companies, either--but please don't paint conspiracies where are are none. You're discrediting people who are interested in the legitimate concerns about Pharma (things like marketing drugs to consumers).

Re:Autism rates (1)

BrickM (178032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077636)

Here's an informative Slate article on why there's no autism epidemic:

http://www.slate.com/id/2157496/ [slate.com]

Essentially it boils down to the fact that correlation does not equal causation. Then, when you look at history, you see there isn't really any correlation at all!

Re:Autism rates (2)

neil.orourke (703459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077654)

I was going to mod this down, because much of what you say is not true. But simply modding you down doesn't correct the misinformation present.

There is no medical evidence that vaccinations cause autism. In particular, the MMR vaccination is given at around 3 years old, which is when autism starts to show, because expected neurological functioning does not develop. But the autism has been there all along! Correlation is not causation!

There is more autism around now because the diagnostic criteria has been refined and expanded into groups. Aspergers, for example, are counted as austistic because it falls within the autism spectrum, although a high-functioning autistic person (ie. aspergers) is quite capable of living a full, productive life.

The growing numbers of autistic and ADD and ADHD children can be attributed bad parenting and unreal expectations. Every child is special and above average - that's what we want to believe. Unfortunately, not every child is above average. There are equally numbers of above average children as there are below average children - it's called the Bell curve. If you put a below average child into a high average class, they may not be able to comprehend the work, and thus exhibit bad behaviour, which leads to a diagnosis of ADHD and then a course of Ritilin. Now, that is overly simplistic and is not meant to deny that there are ADHD suffers out there. But the vast bulk are not.

Given ADHD, above, it's not too big a step to see that a child who keeps to themselves and is quite; well they can't possibly be normal, therefore autism.

Now that I've had my rant. I'll be off... ... and just as I've previewed, I see that you've been modded as a troll. I don'k know that's totally fair, but there you go.

Re:Autism rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077786)

You know nothing about autism.

It's not bad parenting -- or wouldn't all my kids be autistic? Was I all of a sudden a bad parent with my youngest, rendering him completely unable to speak?

His neurologist, developmental pediatrician, occupational therapist, speech therapist, the social workers, the audiologist, all wrong. They testing, the analysis, everything out the window. My son would be able to speak if I was a better parent -- like the parent I was to my eldest who spoke at 9 months.

Autism is more than just bad social habits and shyness, or lining a bunch of toys up. For some children, it is a very debilitating illness. My son may never live an independent life. Yes my other two children will. So explain to me what my parenting has to do with all this?

Re:Autism rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077940)

As a parent of a child with autism, I can definently tell you that the rising cases of autism is not due to parent's with high expectations or misdiagnosis. Try reading the DSM-IV guidelines and you may get a better idea of the traits involved in a child with autism. The explosion of autism diagnosis today usually falls in the area of spectral or ASL. My son was diagnosed with this and he actually quite social. Kids don't really want to play with him when he is babbling and waving his hands in their face. He has actually gotten alot better at not doing that but he struggles everyday to stay focused and learn. He perseverates on pirates and is barely learning his letters/numbers at the age of 7. He can't keep eye contact for more than a second and I have to constantly and patiently repeat instructions to him.

The problem with autism is that there is no single cause or traits. The DSM-IV does an okay job at trying to categorize the different types of disabilities associated with "autism" but IMO, it is very early in what we actually know about this disease. In the end we could see that there are many contributing factors and disorders that stem from the general disorder label. As someone who deals with it first hand, I am not ruling out vaccination and neither is a majority of the autism community. Our geneticist has ruled out the disorder as being genetically passed but my wife did get an MMR before we knew she was pregnant during first trimester. The fact alone that newborns are basically given a multiple vaccine cocktail that induces high temperatures in the recipient does give pause for thought. I don't think vaccines are the sole reason for this explosion in diagnosis, but I am not going to disregard it either. It hasn't been the first time that the science community has missed the mark on something like this (eg. Asperger's was originally thought to be associated with unresponsive parents.) I wouldn't attribute the explosion to irresponsible diagnosis either. It took 3 years for me and my wife to actually label our child as "autistic." In fact, many educators try to avoid the diagnosis, because admitting it means that the child is entitled to more therapy in their IEP. As someone who has battled the school system for years, I have seen it first hand.

It really pisses me off when people make these armchair science assessments about such complex and involved issues like autism. Googling autism and doing an hour research will not give you an understanding about the problem. Try actually talking to parents of children with autism or the doctors that specialize in it, and maybe then you can make some comment of value.

Re:Autism rates (2, Insightful)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077658)

If Autism is caused by mercury why has a gene recently been found that correlates highly? Why does a vaccine "transform" one child (anecdotally) but not affect anyone else in the class?
How many other growth trends have been occurring while the rates of autism have been growing? Global warming? The strength of the Japanese economy? The price of oil?

Leave the "A mother's story: We must fight against the growth of the Japanese economy for my special little autistic Suzy" stories to geocities please, and leave medicine to the pharmacologists (who recently discovered a key genetic link [bbc.co.uk] ).

Re:Autism rates (1)

whitis (310873) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077918)

I am not advocating the mercury link. However, IIRC the theory is that about 0.4% of the population has a genetic defect
that makes them more susceptible to mercury and those are the people who are affected by the mercury in the vaccine.

Re:Autism rates (2, Informative)

DebateG (1001165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077678)

I just heard a lecture on this subject today, so I can assure you that there has *NEVER* been any reputable study that showed a link between autism and childhood vaccinations. The entire argument is based on a post-hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: children get their vaccinations while around 1 years old, and the first signs of autism are noticeable about 6 months later, therefore the vaccinations cause autism.

What have the studies shown [washingtonpost.com] ?

1) There is no difference [nejm.org] in the rates of autism between vaccinated and un-vaccinated children.

2) Rates of autism have increased even though thimerosal was removed from the vaccines [aappublications.org] .

3) The increased rate of autism diagnosis is due to better identification and broader criteria [nih.gov] , not due to a new cause.

Regardless, this has generated so much controversy that thimerosal has been removed from nearly all vaccines [cdc.gov] .
Don't get me wrong: vaccines do have a risk associated with them. But as far as the best science shows, autism is not one of them.

Nonsense (1)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077692)

A study showed that Denmark used the same Themarisol-based vaccination with nowhere near the levels of autism in the US. This is nonsense.

Re:Nonsense (1)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077810)

Inter-country comparisons are difficult, because there are so many possible hidden factors that might skew the results. While I'm very suspicious of the alleged link between vaccines and autism, you describe the study in such a way that it sounds like it proves nothing.

Linky?

Three studies (1)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077882)

--Madsen et al. (2002) conducted a study of all children born in Denmark from January 1991 through December 1998. There were a total of 537,303 children in the study; 440,655 of the children were vaccinated with MMR and 96,648 were not. The researchers did not find a higher risk of autism in the vaccinated than in the unvaccinated group of children.

--A study by Gillberg and Heijbel (1998) examined the prevalence of autism in children born in Sweden from 1975-1984. There was no difference in the prevalence of autism among children born before the introduction of the MMR vaccine in Sweden and those born after the vaccine was introduced.

Sorry, no links.

Re:Autism rates (1)

blitz77 (518316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077732)

"The sad thing is, if you actually compare the data for most diseases for which children are vaccinated, the extreme negative side effects (caused by the drugs / shots, even if only in a small percentage of children) are so, so much worse than if the kid contracts the disease in the first place. Plus, vaccinations produce immunity that is not passed on to your offspring (by mothers), so vaccinations eff with nature's own process of protecting our offspring. Instead, if a child fights an illness naturally, their body will build a natural immunity and their immune system in general will be much better at doing what it's supposed to do - keep the kid healthy."

ROFLMAO. I started laughing at the point you said 'so much worse than if the kid contracts the disease in the first place'. Now, what is the rate of autism? 1 in 100. From vaccination, we have wiped out smallpox, polio, diptheria from Australia. Do you have any clue of the rates of getting diptheria/polio are in other countries? India, one of the remaining countries still trying to complete a immunisation program against the disease has DISABLED 20 million people in the country. Polio by itself has had a greater than 1% rate in the population there.

Imagine what life would be like without immunisation having eradicated smallpox. The estimate of the number of people who died from smallpox in the 20th century was 300-500 million people.
You go and live in your dream world of no immunisation-I imagine that you'd find the world a lot less pleasant than the current one. The rest of us would far rather live in a world where EVERYBODY is immunised, so that such diseases will eventually be eradicated.

Re:Autism rates - no relationship to Thimerosal (3, Informative)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077780)

Thimerosal has been virtually eliminated in childhood vaccines in the US, yet we see no decline in autism rates. A large scale Danish study http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/ full/112/3/604/ [aappublications.org] persuasively argued that there was no link between autism rates and Thimerosal. As in the US, they found that the elimination of thimerosal had no effect on the rate of autism. What causes autism? Hell if I know, but it sure doesn't seem that thimerosal does.

Bad modding habits (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077812)

Why is parent getting modded 'troll' and 'flamebait'? This seems to be an example of the bad habit of modding down people that the modder disagees with. P presents a sane and reasonable argument, and backs it up with references. FWIW, my opinion is that he and his references are dead wrong, but his style does not deserve the negative mods.
If you disagree with P strongly enough to mod him down, it would be better to reply and tell him why he is mistaken.
Please save the negative mods for people who actually lower the level of discourse, not for those who are in error.

Re:Bad modding habits (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077944)

Well, he opens by saying he finds the topic "rather annoying," he doesn't address the article itself, his only "reference" is a f***ing Google search (would you consider this [google.com] to be adequate reference for the assertion that aliens visit Earth?) and in his first paragraph he blames "medical science" (instead of, you know, ethylmercury) for higher autism rates. I consider his downmods well-earned...

Re:Bad modding habits (1)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18078012)

P presents a sane and reasonable argument, and backs it up with references.
He didn't present references, he presented a link to a google search. Why are people so incensed about him? Many people consider anti-vaccine advocates such as this fellow very dangerous to public health.

Re:Autism rates (1)

BeBoxer (14448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077832)

That was a good theory, but they pulled the mercury out of childhood vaccines back in 2000 and it hasn't helped. If the thimerisol was causing autism, we should be seeing almost no new cases now that it's seven years later. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Yeah, the increase over the past few decades points to an environmental factor. But thimerisol is looking like a worse and worse candidate every day.

Re:Autism rates (1)

lagfest (959022) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077866)

Plus, vaccinations produce immunity that is not passed on to your offspring (by mothers), so vaccinations eff with nature's own process of protecting our offspring.
Immunities aren't passed on to your offspring. If that was the case, we wouldn't have to vaccinate in the first place. The initial load of breastmilk is full of antibodies, but that's hardly the same. Let your kids eat some dirt and get them vaccinated.

But why am i even replying? You are obviously trolling.

Re:Autism rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18078044)

The only reason that you are hearing about Autism more today than you did when you were a child is because it's being diagnosed today and it wasn't when you were a child. My uncle is autistic, but since there was no diagnosis when he was growing up people just thought he was weird, antisocial and non-communicative. Especially with neural diseases, it's easy to mis-diagnose as feeble-mindedness (the catch-all diagnosis for a very long time) or some other completely inaccurate nonsense. Oh, and your whole anti-vacinnation rant? Tell that to the kids paralyzed by polio. Oh, wait. There aren't any now. Hmmm...wonder why that could be?

Expect a shitstorm to arise from this (4, Insightful)

tpjunkie (911544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077460)

There are going to be people vocally declaring that we have no right to "cure" (or prevent, as the case may be) autism, and that it's not a disease. At the same time, others will insist that we should do everything in our power to mitigate the effects of autism, which can be quite formidable...I myself know a family friend a year younger than me who has pretty severe autism, he lives in a group home, but he plays the piano like a concert pianist (and has since he was 12) as well as being completely bilingual. He is quite intelligent but really can't function independently in society. I'm going to reserve judgement on this until the trials are completed and the results are in, but I can promise that there is going to be a HUGE amount of controversy over this.

Re:Expect a shitstorm to arise from this (1)

m_maximus (750318) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077734)

here are going to be people vocally declaring that we have no right to "cure" (or prevent, as the case may be) autism

If you're inferring that the "Autistic community" will react to this the same way the Deaf community did when the cochlear implant was invented, I don't think it's going to happen, simply because autistic people live in their own little world, and are not only isolated from the rest of the world but from each other was well.

Re:Expect a shitstorm to arise from this (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077910)

If you're inferring that the "Autistic community" will react to this the same way the Deaf community did when the cochlear implant was invented, I don't think it's going to happen, simply because autistic people live in their own little world, and are not only isolated from the rest of the world but from each other was well.
A large part of the noise generated by the [deaf/blind/retarded/dwarfism/other] communities is coming from caregivers, parents & family members.

A certain percentage will always say "I wouldn't want them any other way," despite (or perhaps because of) all the incredible obstacles the family/caregivers have had to deal with.

Re:Expect a shitstorm to arise from this (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 7 years ago | (#18078016)

Don't count on it. When I was a kid the kids we were told were "autistic" were really severly debilitated, often with no ability to speak, etc. I knew only one autistic kid at my school who could speak pretty well (fun fact: he also had memorized the addresses and phone numbers of everyone in the entire school system).

Today, there's a much wider group of articulate, seemingly reasonably well functioning adults who self-identify as "autistic" and have created what some might think is oxymoronic, a real "autistic community." That community may protest anything that would "fix" them. I think you can see from the posts in this thread that a lot of people think of these super-high-functioning autistics as "assholes looking to justify their assholeness in a way that frees them from responsibility for it, and enables them to play the victimized minority card," but I think that's an over simplistic reading of it.

The one kid I know who falls into this new modern category of autism (I first met him when he was a hyperactive 8 year old with no friends, and last saw him as an "I'm autistic, deal with it" campus crusader type) has found a group of people who he really gets along with, and has a great social scene to interact with. So, is he autistic? Does his ability to fit in with the other self-identified autistic kids make him prima facia non-autistic? I'm not sure. To me, it's like a 12 step group. If it works for you, have at it.

Re:Expect a shitstorm to arise from this (1)

operand (15312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077854)

Overall, I think more people should know wtf Autism is, how it affects people and how they live with it on a daily basis. But leave it up to /. posters to make a stab at their comedy on a serious topic.

With two nephews having Autism and knowing other families with kids who have it, its a disease no matter how you spin it.

The problem is that we live in a world where pyschological impairments aren't viewed as diseases.

Re:Expect a shitstorm to arise from this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077862)

The vast bulk of those with severe autism don't have any redeeming features due to autism. I have an cousin (in-law) who is essentially a 4 year old in a young man's body. He requires constant care, and that care isn't joy on earth - imagine trying to get a 4 year old to do something they don't want to do, then give that four year old the size and strength of a 20 year old man.

Re:Expect a shitstorm to arise from this (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077898)

The vast bulk of those with severe autism don't have any redeeming features due to autism. I have an cousin (in-law) who is essentially a 4 year old in a young man's body. He requires constant care, and that care isn't joy on earth - imagine trying to get a 4 year old to do something they don't want to do, then give that four year old the size and strength of a 20 year old man.

      I think you've just described about 70% of us reading slashdot. Except for the "strength" bit.

Shitstorm (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077928)

Yeah, but there are comparable shitstorms anytime you attempt to cure a disability.

There was some deaf kid, and when doctors discovered that his hearing could be restored surgically, the deaf community freaked right out. Apparently some people have started to think of deafness as some wonderful gift that makes them unique and special, rather than as the hideous disability that it really is.

I've even started hearing about people who regard Down's syndrome as a legitimate form of Human variability, rather than as a compelling argument in favour of offering all pregnant middle-aged women free abdominocentesis and karyotyping.

Speaking as someone who has a disability (APD in this case), anyone who would try to force children to live with a disability despite the availability of treatment is someone that is in desperate need of a bullet-related attitude-adjustment. Forcing a child to live their lives without a sense of hearing, or with autistism, or with any other treatable disability, is truely criminal.

Re:Shitstorm (1)

Saganaga (167162) | more than 7 years ago | (#18078032)

Um, I hope you realize that there's a big difference between finding a cure for Down's Syndrome and making it easier for them to be killed before they are born.

Re:Expect a shitstorm to arise from this (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077966)

Yeah, why don't they cure a more damaging disease -- like the one that causes you to be utterly unable to communicate an idea, and still expect your romantic interests to be able to immediately infer it from subtle hints. I believe the literature calls it femalism.

Fish oils baby! (4, Funny)

Fizzlewhiff (256410) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077472)

Now they need to find a cure for printer dialogs.

Oh great... (4, Funny)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077488)

Oh great. Now we'll have another drug to dope our kids up on. I predict an increase in the diagnoses of autism in children as soon as this gets marketed.

"Drink your fatty acid cocktail, dear, your psychiatrist has a new BMW to pay for..."

Re:Oh great... (1)

Marcos Eliziario (969923) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077634)

I am sure Tom Cruise would agree to you.

New career direction (1)

ronrib (1055404) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077662)

Now I think about it, psychiatry doesn't sound like such a bad career choice after all.

Re:Oh great... (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077830)

FTFS: "They have already developed urine/blood tests to identify at-risk children".

Re:Oh great... (1, Troll)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#18078020)

Hey, it's YOUR retarded commercial healthcare system. You COULD have voted for a government that would ban Rx kickbacks and advertising by pharmaceutical companies directly to doctors. But you didn't, presumably because you WANTED the current system.

Always keep this in mind: things are the way they are precisely because people want it that way. If they wanted things to be different, it's entirely within their power to change. All they have to do is stop being idiots for the 0.4 seconds it takes to put a check-mark in a box on a ballot slip.

do we want to do this?! (1, Interesting)

np_bernstein (453840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077494)

Caveat: I don't know anyone with full blown autism or have much experience with anyone like that. I do, however, know a large number of people with asperger syndrome, which is often considered the low end of the autism spectrum. People with autism often have amazing abilities. They have social problems, to be sure, but if we offer people the ability to prevent/cure autism, then it will be difficult to do any research on the subject, and honestly, what's more important than how to improve the capacity of the human mind?

Re:do we want to do this?! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077638)

I'm sure if they cure it by correcting the root cause that they can also throw the root cause out of wack. All you have to do is get in touch with interested scientists and they can hook you up with a sweet case of autism.

Or did you not want to be a research subject just because somebody else thought it was cool?

hey fags (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077502)

how do you like sucking them dicks?

isn't this just fucking fantastic? if this was an article that a political spin could be put on every faggot would come running to post. instead this involves real science. the type of shit your average linux fag knows nothing about. the same is true for other pure science articles.

a million fucktards will scream about some cop somewhere sueing some bimbo or something without even bothering to read the fucking article but when it comes to real human matters and science? fuck, they can't be bothered with that.

cmdrdildo has just turned this into one big flamewar cos he knows that real aricles don't get the big mouth fags all a'bitchin and moanin. you've being used like some two bit whore, you dumb faggots.

you may now resume sucking them dicks.

Re:hey fags (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077582)

fuck those filthy faggots. fuck them in the ass.

Re:hey fags (0, Troll)

Marcos Eliziario (969923) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077684)

The worst thing in psychopaths like the GP is that they tend to be ACs not only on slashdot. Usually people with views like that are child molesters, or they spank homosexuals, or do some other stupid acts while covering as role model citizens, and here at slashdot they troll as ACs because they are not man enough to assume their opinions.

hey marcos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18077774)

You know people may actually listen to you if you take the little boy's dick out of your mouth.

It is about time. (1)

ryepnt (1064238) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077602)

It's about time we start curing stuff like this, with all the tech we have I think that a whole lot of diseases and conditions are going to be cured soon. (but lets just hope that the new tech doesn't cause new health issues)

Wasn't this already put on film? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077656)

IIRC, there was a film about this years ago. Can't remember the actress' name, might have been Meryl Streep??? Basically this mom didn't want the doctors to tell her nothing could be done, so she found some info blah blah and in the end started feeding the kid crisco or some such and all turned out better for the kid?

Does anyone else remember this? It was a made for tv type movie.

Re:Wasn't this already put on film? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077700)

It was Ms Streep, but the problem was epilepsy, and the movie is called ".. First, do no harm"
The movies outlines a diet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketogenic_Diet [wikipedia.org] called the ketogenic diet, consisting of a coctail of fats basically. I should have went to IMDB.com first. From IMDB.com:

10 out of 10 people found the following comment useful :-
PG-13 - intense emotional and physical depiction of a child's illness, 20 December 2004
Author: ryanlupin from London, England

In this alternately heartbreaking and uplifting drama inspired by actual events, a small town Midwest family discovers that their youngest son suffers from epilepsy. Left without hope after their insurance runs out, the mother presses on, studies everything she can find out about the illness, and, against the wishes of her local doctor, takes her son to Baltimore for treatment with the controversial ketogenetic diet.

The title of this movie-made-for-television, First Do No Harm, comes from the Hippocratic oath which doctors take as part of their vocation.

However, in many cases physicians are loath to recommend procedures not because they do anyone harm but because their efficacy is not supported by scientific research. This is the case when four-year-old Robbie (Seth Adkins) is diagnosed as having a type of epilepsy for which the cause is unknown. His parents, Lori (Meryl Streep) and Dave (Fred Ward), agree to a series of excruciating drug treatments which only seem to worsen his condition. Their situation becomes more complicated when they learn that their health insurance policy has lapsed.

Then Lori discovers a regimen called the Ketogenic Diet; one-third of the epileptic children on this diet have experienced no additional seizures. Robbie's parents are furious with his doctor (Allison Janney) for not telling them about this treatment and then refusing to facilitate their trying it. Instead, she recommends brain surgery for the boy.

The finale of the drama demonstrates the distance some families have to go to take control of the health and welfare of their loved ones. First Do No Harm presents a blistering attack on the rigidity and insensitivity of the medical establishment.

Outstanding performances from both Meryl Streep and child sensation, Seth Adkins. Definitely a 'must-watch!!'

Sounds like Lorenzo's Oil (1, Interesting)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077704)

Lorenzo's Oil [wikipedia.org] ? But I am no fatty acid expert.

simple explanation (2, Informative)

moonbeams (1066254) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077708)

"key fatty acids" = aka Fish Oil/Cod Liver Oil = Essential Fatty Acids

As a parent of a child with autism who follows the DAN! protocal EFAs are essential to my son's progress. He takes a daily dose of fish oil. This is nothing new or great or even a "cure"....for those of us parents who are working on recovering our children this has been around for a while.

In fact EVERYONE can benefit from a daily dose. Its much better than the cod liver oil of the past, many are flavored now or in gel cap form, my entire family takes them and we're better off for it.

Another day, another stupid false hope. (5, Interesting)

TheMohel (143568) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077768)

Obligatory claim of relevance: I am a pediatrician with developmental training. I am also the parent of a teenager with severe autism. It is my informed (but not omniscient) opinion that the odds that this is anything other than a complete red herring are too small to measure accurately.

We will begin with the obvious problem that they are treating autism as a single disorder. We don't know a great deal about the spectrum, but we certainly know that autistic symptoms can be found in a large number of discrete conditions. "Autism" is probably a final common pathway of subtle neurologic failure, and the idea that a single enzyme is associated has been discredited repeatedly. In fact, every time we think we've found "the" cause, more research shows us that we have found, at most, "a" cause, and usually not one that is common. Fragile X syndrome, Rett's syndrome, and others were all previously lumped in as "autism", and I don't think we're done finding things.

The next obvious problem is that if we indeed have a single liposomal storage disease causing most or all autism, you would find it with brain biopsy and/or MRI. We have not found this. You would expect other commonalities as well, since failures of fat metabolism generally have organ impacts outside the brain. We have not found these. I would be unsurprised to discover that there is a rare disorder of this sort with autistic symptoms present, but it means nothing for the vast majority of individuals with autism.

Don't get me wrong - I would give the rest of my life willingly if it would cure my son. I will be grateful beyond words if this works. But it won't, any more than secretin did when it was the last great hope for autism. I have learned much in the fifteen years of my son's life, and the thing I have learned most is that people who claim to have "the cure for autism" are lying. Not always in an evil fashion, and not necessarily knowingly, but they are saying something that is not true.

Re:Another day, another stupid false hope. (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077976)

Hey Doc, I think you might have actualy gotten the last word on this subject. Thanks for weighing in.

UMDNJ is crooked as a dog's leg (2, Interesting)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18077970)

As a bitter ex-UMDNJ employee, I am glad these guys actually had the money to carry out there research. Our project involving AIDS and children was shutdown as a cost-saving measure because of the various and sundry financial scandals at that hellhole. Bully for them.
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