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UT Houston, Jamaica researchers launch autism study
Date:9/29/2009

enrolled in this study to serve as a control group and will be compared with children diagnosed with ASD.

"By utilizing the most current available diagnostic methods in Jamaica, our study in the future will promote the earlier identification of children there who are on the autism spectrum," said Katherine Loveland, Ph.D., co-investigator and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. "Also, because most children in Jamaica who need developmental assessment receive it at the clinic directed by Dr. Samms-Vaughan, we will ultimately have the unique opportunity to reach and to research autism in the majority of children in Jamaica who have an autism spectrum disorder."

Samms-Vaughan, professor of child health, child development and behavior at UWI, Mona Campus, is the only developmental and behavioral pediatrician in Jamaica and one of four in the Caribbean. She founded the Child and Family Clinic for Developmental and Behavioral Disorders of Childhood.

"This grant allows us to utilize the most recent diagnostic methods available for participants in the study," Samms-Vaughan said. "There is a lot of information on autism in developed countries, but more limited information from developing countries. Researching similarities and differences across nations will better inform us of the causes. If we can unearth the causes, we will be well on our way to preventing the disabling condition that autism is."

Eric Boerwinkle, Ph.D., professor and director of the Division of Epidemiology at the UT School of Public Health, will lead the project's study of variations in the glutathione-S-transferase genes in relation to autism, as well as their possible interaction with genes involved in contaminant metabolism and metals involved in developmental toxicity. Those metals include mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium. The study team will collaborate with geneticist Wayne McLaughlin, Ph.D.,
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Contact: Deborah Lake
deborah.m.lake@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3304
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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