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The first autism disease genes
Date:9/1/2008

This release is available in Spanish.

The autistic disorder was first described, more than sixty years ago, by Dr. Leo Kanner of the Johns Hopkins Hospital (USA), who created the new label early infantile autism. At the same time an Austrian scientist, Dr. Hans Asperger, described a milder form of the disorder that became known as Asperger Syndrome, characterised by higher cognitive abilities and more normal language function. Today, both disorders are classified in the continuum of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), more often referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

The prevalence of (classic) autism in the general population is about 15-20 in 10.000, while all Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) affect about 60 in 10.000 children. Males are affected four times more often than females. In approximately 10% of cases, autism is associated with a recognized cause, such as Fragile X Syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis or diverse chromosomal abnormalities (mean observed rates between 5-10%), but in a vast majority of cases, no known causes are associated with autism (see figure).

All of these neurodevelopmental disorders are characterized by varying deficits in communication skills, social interactions, and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of interests and activities. Problems that may accompany these disorders are sensory distortion, mental retardation or seizures. Disease onset occurs during the first three years of life. Although early intervention has considerable impact on reducing symptoms and increasing a childs ability to learn new skills, it is estimated that only 50% of children are diagnosed before the age of 3 years.

Most children with ASD respond well to behavioural management and highly structured, specialized programs in educational settings. Other therapeutic interventions comprise medications to tr
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Contact: Sonja Mak
s.mak@update.europe.at
43-140-557-340
European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Source:Eurekalert

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