Autism a whole body disorder
Scientists find problems in several organs
ICANWEST NEWS SERVICE
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.
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.