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UMDF Statement on the Connection Between Mitochondrial Disease and Autism

PITTSBURGH, April 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation released the following statement from its executive director and CEO, Chuck Mohan, in light of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee's (NVAC) meeting of its Vaccine Safety Working Group and recent published reports of possible links between mitochondrial disorders and autism.

"Recent published reports about the potential links between mitochondrial disorders and autism demonstrate the urgent need for more research into mitochondrial disease, a devastating and often fatal illness.

"Mitochondrial dysfunction has also been implicated in Alzheimer's Dementia, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, heart disease and diabetes.

"Mitochondrial disease is not rare. Researchers estimate that every 15 minutes a child is born with mitochondrial disease or will be diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by the age of 10. Most affected children do not live beyond their teenage years.

"The National Institutes of Health currently spends about $11.8 million on research into mitochondrial-related research -- with only about one third of that earmarked for primary mitochondrial disease research. That is less than 1/1000 of one percent of NIH's $29B annual budget. That is why the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation supports the effort by the National Institutes of Health to place mitochondrial disease research on an NIH roadmap.

"Mitochondrial disease deprives the body of energy making it difficult to function properly. It can affect any organ of the body and at any age. The brain may be impaired, vision may be dim, muscles may twitch or may be too weak to allow the body to walk or write, the heart may be weakened, and the ability to eat and digest food can be compromised.

"Finding the cause of and cure for mitochondrial disease would not only alleviate the suffering of families around the world, it would also unlock the door to a world of scientific knowledge and could help lead the way to possible treatments for many other diseases."

SOURCE United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation
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