Autism Research

Learn about research being conducted concerning autism from pediatrician and child development expert Asma J. Sadiq, M.D. in this Howcast video.

Transcript

There's lots of new research around autism at this present point, from genetic studies to interesting new studies with immune dysfunction that are being researched all over. Mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, these are areas that are being looked at and not just in the fact that these children have these particular differences or issues but some of these areas are also being seen to be interconnected at a genetic level. There's a lot of interest in the gut immune or what they call the neuropsychoimmunology where the gut brain connection is there together with the immune dysfunction. There's research with energy and mitochondria which are the energy houses of cells and we're finding that children with autism spectrum have more mitochondrial dysfunction.

They have difficulty with the DNA, not just of the cells but of the DNA of the mitochondria which has its own DNA, which had its own genetics in a sense and the research connects all the systems, which actually connect together. So you are having oxidative stress which means the balance between free radicals and the balance between energy and how things get detoxified and rebalanced because for a free radical, let me describe, it’s almost like a terrorist which has to be balanced out. Otherwise, it causes more damage, it causes ageing, it causes difficulty in elimination and we're finding children with autism spectrum having difficulty with detoxification and the antioxidant which is the most potent in the body and particularly in the liver which is the organ of detoxification is glutathione and we're finding children with the autism spectrum having lower levels of glutathione.

So this research is interesting and exciting because not only does it help us understand what other systems are involved with an autism spectrum disorder but also, what are the possible therapeutic interventions that can then be offered to children, and going back to Leo Kanner’s initial diagnosis or description of the children that he wrote about in his classic paper. He does talk about some children having enlarged tonsils also which mean immune system problems.

Some children having digestive issues and we see different subgroups of autism and it is important to recognize these subgroups because in doing studies, we have to deal with subgroups and different subgroups to do interventions and see what is beneficial because what works with one child may not work with another because every child is not the same for sure and there is biomedical individuality and we are learning of that through genetics, methylation, immune, oxidation, all these different areas come together and it is important to approach the child holistically and yet look at each separate area and what are the different subtypes as we do the research and as we treat each child individually.

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