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Largest Study Ever to Investigate Risk Factors of Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities Will Begin Enrolling Families in Bay Area and Across U.S.
Date:11/14/2007

OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers from Kaiser Permanente and the California Department of Public Health, as well as from five other sites nationwide, today will begin enrolling families in the largest study to date investigating the genetic and environmental factors that may cause autism and other developmental disabilities.

The five-year research study, called the Study to Explore Early Development, will involve 2,700 children and their parents from six areas around the nation, including Santa Clara and Alameda counties. The study is open to both Kaiser Permanente members and non-members with children who were born from September 2003 to August 2005 in Santa Clara and Alameda counties. Children with autism and other neuro-developmental impairments (developmental delays), as well as children with typical development, will be studied and are being recruited.

"We hope this study will help us learn more about the factors that may lead to autism and other developmental disabilities, and how genes and the environment may affect child development," said Lisa A. Croen, PhD, the study's local principal investigator and an epidemiologist with Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. "The results may also contribute to better services and treatments for affected children and to prevention strategies."

For reasons not fully understood, autism is on the rise, affecting on average about one in 150 children born in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also is involved in this study. The chronic, lifelong condition affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development of social and communication skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released guidelines recommending all children be screened for autism between the ages of 18 and 24 months, even if parents haven't expressed any particular concerns.

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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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