nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beginning Signs of Autism Seen in Mid-Infancy

In another blow to the Society of Irrational Autism Beliefs, this study showed in a prospective way that infants who are later diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder have indications of the disorder developing as early as 6 months of age in some, but not statistically significant for the group until 12 months.  The progression continues up to 36 months--the end point of the study.    Note that MMR (the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine), thought by some--fervently--to be a cause of autism, is not given until 12-15 months (see the American Academy of Pediatrics schedule).

The measures the researchers thought significant were those which match with older autistic children:  frequency of gaze to faces, shared smiles, and vocalizations.  In simpler terms, these are signs of declining social communication.  Results were statistically significant in the autism-bound group for gazes and vocalizations at 12 months, not until 18 months for smiles and social engagement.

Of particular importance, this study showed that those infants affected had the same communication skills from birth through their early months as the normal group.  So, what we are seeing with autism is not something present at birth, but occurring later, as a loss of ability.

In a separate editorial, there was discussion of how few of the parents noticed these changes (through surveys) as they were occurring.

Despite my jab at the vaccine deniers, this is an important piece of work.  It forces a re-thinking of the complex nature of this spectrum of disorders:  what ability are we born with, but gets destroyed, and by what?

Doc D

Opinions are entirely my own

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