Autism Science Progression

Across the country, researchers are scanning the brains of hundreds of autistic children, looking for insights into a condition that has proved frustratingly hard to understand.

As part of autism awareness month, here is some of the latest research and findings released throughout April.

  • Doctors want to redefine autism; parents worried
  • With autism rising, researchers step up hunt for a cause
  • Autism may be linked to obesity during pregnancy
  • CDC: Autism is more common than previously thought

The quest to unravel the mystery — and get children and families the help they need — has become more urgent as autism has become more widely diagnosed. The condition now affects one in 88 children, according to a report last month from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yet researchers today also say they’re beginning to make progress, perhaps for the first time, in understanding the autistic brain. Scientists are getting a glimpse of what might go wrong in early brain development, says Sarah Paterson, a developmental psychologist at Children’s Hospital.

And while some of the field’s most exciting discoveries have come only in the past year or two, researchers such as Paterson say the findings could soon make a real difference . A decade from now, she expects doctors to diagnose the condition earlier and treat it more effectively, at least for children whose family history singles them out as high-risk.

Szabo, Liz. “Autism science is moving ‘stunningly fast’.”USA Tody. 30 04 2012:  <http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-04-08/Autism-science-research-moving-faster/54134028/1>.

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