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

state in children with ASD may provide valuable insight into the neurological basis of the disorder.

"Since autism spectrum disorders are behaviorally defined and diagnosed, studying changes in behavior resulting from a wide range of physiological changes is critical to increasing our understanding of this complex group of disorders," said Andrew Zimmerman, Director of Medical Research at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. "The results of this study are important because they show us that the autistic brain is plastic, or capable of altering current connections and forming new ones in response to different experiences or conditions."

Researchers evaluated 30 children with ASD, ages two to 18 years, during and after an episode of fever (fever was defined as 100.4 degrees F/38.0 degrees C or greater). Parents were asked to observe their child's actions and complete a standardized behavior questionnaire at three different points: during fever; when the fever subsided and the child was asymptomatic; and when the child was fever-free for seven days. These data were compared to data collected from parents of 30 afebrile children with ASD who made up the control group. Children in the control group were matched to children in the fever group in terms of age, sex and language skills. Results revealed fewer autistic-like behaviors for children with fever compared to controls, with more than 80 percent of fever subjects showing some behavioral improvements and approximately 30 percent exhibiting dramatic improvements.

"Pilot research studies such as this provide clues about the underlying metabolic changes in the brain that may prove to be targets for novel autism therapies," said Dr. Gary Goldstein, President and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute. "These and other similar findings are shaping the future direction of autism research."

Further research involving a larger participant pool is needed t
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SOURCE Kennedy Krieger Institute
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