Autism Symptoms

You can observe some Autism symptoms in a person as young as two years old and sometimes even younger. Here are the main Autism symptoms that will allow you to identify or wonder if your a member of your family, a friend or anyone else might be affected by this disorder. The severity of these Autism symptoms may vary as each individual is unique. That is why it is evaluated on a spectrum.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Can Autism Symptoms be reduced by diet?

London researchers have found a link between food and autism, a discovery that's creating a buzz in the world of medical research.
Their study is giving clout to a long-held claim by many parents who say they can alter their children's behaviour -- and lessen autistic symptoms -- by altering their diets.
"What parents are telling us about the digestive system complaints of these children has a great deal of merit," research director Dr. Derrick MacFabe said yesterday from Atlanta.
"But I want to show that there is some hope. This study allows us to examine things which have the potential to reduce the risk of the disease and possibly treat it.
"There is something common to diet, digestive system, immune system, behaviours and to brain function of autistic children."
The neuroscientist is director of the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group at the University of Western Ontario.
Named after the 10-year-old autistic daughter of David Patchell-Evans, the team was established three years ago to search for causes of the disease affecting one in 166 children.
Autism is a mental condition characterized by failure to communicate, difficulty in learning and self-stimulating or aggressive behaviour.
"I'm excited because for a long time, parents have said that what their kid eats makes a difference," said Patchell-Evans, the chief executive of GoodLife Fitness who established the research team with a sizable donation.
"Now we've moved from gossip to science and when you stop gossiping and move to a scientific foundation . . . then you can start some real progression because the medical community needs a scientifically rigorous study."
Like many parents of autistic children, Patchell-Evans took his daughter off wheat and dairy about a year after she was diagnosed on the basis of anecdotal evidence that it could help.
The difference, he said, was "night and day. She learns better, she pays better attention, her hyperactivity decreases, her sociability increases . . . and she sleeps through the night."
The research team began looking into a possible link between autism and diet after hearing many accounts from parents claiming their children had digestive problems.
Patchell-Evans' findings were similar to those of thousands of parents, said MacFabe, who studied whether digestive upsets could worsen autistic symptoms such as repetitive behaviours, social isolation and poor impulse control.
The team focused on a compound called propionic acid, present in some foods such as refined wheat and dairy products.
The acid is also produced by many types of digestive bacteria, particularly those associated with antibiotic-associated diarrhea, MacFabe said.
Scientists put the compound into the brains of lab rats, which became hyperactive and repetitive, showing signs of social impairment that resembles that in autistic patients.
Repeated exposure showed worsening behavioural effects, said MacFabe, and brain changes that resemble seizures that often co-exist with autism.
Then analysing the brains of these animals, researchers showed an inflammatory response closely resembling those found in a recent John Hopkins study on autistic brain material.
The UWO research team includes MacFabe, psychology chair Dr. Klaus-Peter Ossenkopp, Dr. Donald Cain, Dr. Martin Kavaliers, Dr. Elizabeth Hampson and Dr. Fred Possmayer.
MacFabe and other team members are in Atlanta to present their study at a major neuroscience conference.
Soon to appear in the prestigious biomedical journal Behavioral Brain Research, the study is garnering international attention for the team.
Some of the team's work has already been well received at a Montreal conference, the International Meeting of Autism Researchers.
The paper has also attracted the attention of the Brain Development and Disorders Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
"We need this kind of integrative research to understand what is going on in autism and how the gut-brain axis is involved," said project director Dr. Martha Herbert, who will be collaborating with MacFabe to further examine this in human patients.
The next step for the UWO group is to work with Queen's University's Dr. Jeanette Holden, director of the Canadian-American Autism Research Consortium


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