Autism a whole body dis­or­der

Sci­en­tists find prob­lems in sev­eral or­gans

Calgary Herald - - Top News - TONY LO­FARO


OTTAWA t’s time to look at autism as a whole body dis­or­der and not just as a brain prob­lem, re­searchers from Canada and the U.S. said at a news con­fer­ence on Par­lia­ment Hill on Thurs­day.

“I think what we’re look­ing at is a tran­si­tion from just a be­hav­iour and brain dis­or­der to a whole-body con­di­tion,” said Martha Her­bert, a pe­di­atric neu­rol­o­gist from Har­vard Med­i­cal School.

“We’re look­ing at a tran­si­tion from it just be­ing (con­sid­ered) ge­netic to be­ing ge­netic and en­vi­ron­men­tal,” said Martha Her­bert, a pe­di­atric neu­rol­o­gist from Har­vard Med­i­cal School, “and mov­ing from be­ing in­cur­able to be­ing some­thing that we can treat in var­i­ous ways to make the qual­ity of life bet­ter and to have more op­tions.”

She said look­ing at autism as a whole-child, whole-body con­di­tion is not a par­tic­u­larly new the­ory, but re­searchers are ad­vo­cat­ing that it be put more into the spot­light to have the pub­lic bet­ter un­der­stand the dis­ease.

Re­searchers have dis­cov­ered there are of­ten other sys­temic prob­lems along­side autism, she said.

“We’re find­ing im­mune ab­nor­mal­i­ties in prob­a­bly the ma­jor­ity and gas­tro-in­testi­nal ab­nor­mal­i­ties. And when you study chil­dren for gas­tro-in­testi­nal ab­nor­mal­i­ties di­rectly in­stead of just look­ing at old med­i­cal records, you find the ma­jor­ity have prob­lems of this kind.

“Th­ese prob­lems af­fect more than one or­gan sys­tem and they travel around the body and af­fect ev­ery­thing,” she added.

A re­search study done last year by Der­rick MacFabe, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor from the de­part­ment of psy­chol­ogy and psy­chi­a­try at the Univer­sity of West­ern On­tario, along with other re­searchers, found that when a com­pound known as pro­pi­onic acid was ad­min­is­tered into the brains of rats, it pro­duced be­hav­iours and brain changes sim­i­lar to autism in peo­ple.

MacFabe, who is also a di­rec­tor of the Kilee Patchell Evans Autism Re­search Group, said they hear about the prob­lems of autis­tic chil­dren from their par­ents.

“Th­ese chil­dren are sick. A lot of th­ese chil­dren have gas­tro-in­testi­nal symp­toms, very strange be­hav­iours with eat­ing cer­tain foods,” said MacFabe.

Rod MacIvor, CanWest News Ser­vice

Dr. Martha Hebert, left, of Har­vard Med­i­cal School, and Dr. Der­rick MacFabe, di­rec­tor of the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Re­search Group, an­nounce in Ottawa on Thurs­day a new sci­en­tific model that re­gards autism as a com­plex whole body dis­or­der.

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