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Study Finds Fever may Lead to Improved Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Date:12/3/2007

Kennedy Krieger Institute Research Confirms Parent and Physician Reports that Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Exhibit Fewer Autistic-like Behaviors during Illness with Fever

BALTIMORE, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Over the past few decades, parents and clinicians have observed that the behaviors of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) tend to improve, sometimes rather dramatically, during a fever. Longer concentration spans, increased language production, improved eye contact and better overall relations with adults and peers have all been reported. In a study published today in the journal Pediatrics, researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland confirmed, for the first time, parent and clinician reports that the behavior of children with ASD improves with fever. The study evaluated children with ASD during and after an episode of fever and found that fewer autistic-like behaviors were recorded for children with fever compared to controls. Understanding how fever affects the behaviors of children with ASD may provide insight into the causes of the disorder and potential treatment opportunities.

In typically developing children, signals are constantly being sent through pathways that connect the different regions of the brain and allow them to communicate with one another. Research has shown that these connections between brain regions are not made in children with autism, which limits their ability to communicate and socialize. But, the rapid behavioral changes observed with the onset of fever in children with ASD suggest that the different regions of the brain are in fact capable of connecting and communicating with one another, and that something about the fever state triggers or speeds up the signaling between brain regions. Understanding this "fever effect," including why and how connections are made between brain regions during a febrile (fever) state and not in an afebrile (without fever)
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SOURCE Kennedy Krieger Institute
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