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Autism Speaks funds $5 million to studies on genetic and environmental risk factors for autism
Date:2/26/2009

ination and correlation of the brain and behavioral changes in very early life that may mark the onset of autistic symptoms. Little is known about the abnormal processes during early brain development in children with ASD and this research could offer new insights that lead to earlier diagnosis of ASD.

"These comprehensive studies will help us better understand the onset of ASD and hopefully capture the earliest possible indicators of autism. Both of these studies will also significantly add to our knowledge about the causes of autism by looking at the interaction between genetic susceptibility and environmental exposures. It is our hope that this collaborative effort will facilitate early screening and hopefully lead to effective prevention and treatment strategies," noted Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks. "Autism Speaks, through the funding it provides, seeks to enhance the capacity of some established core research efforts by allowing DNA and additional exposure data to be collected, supporting longitudinal research over time, and facilitating collaboration among separate research institutions to maximize the scientific opportunities available and the impact of their findings." Environmental exposures during pregnancy and infancy are another significant aspect of the EARLI study. A number of environmental exposures, including dietary and lifestyle factors, medications and personal care product use, and suspected neurotoxicants including persistent organic pollutants will be investigated with data and samples collected in EARLI.

"The EARLI study is designed explicitly to collect accurate information on a wide range of exposures during the most important times for brain development," said Dr. Newschaffer, a professor and department chair at the Drexel University School of Public Health. "We are optimistic that this unique study, which also incorporates genetic information from parents and children, will give us
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Contact: Jane E. Rubinstein
jrubinstein@rubenstein.com
212-843-8287
Autism Speaks
Source:Eurekalert

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