Early Brain Injury and Autism

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A pediatrician writing for The Daily Beast discusses a recent study in the journal Neuron that found links between autism and brain injury during fetal development. “For children known to have a cerebellar injury at birth, Dr. Wang’s paper reports an increased relative risk for an [autism spectrum disorder] roughly equivalent to that of a smoker developing lung cancer.”

Dr. Samuel Wang, an associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton University, tells Daily Beast that, “Problems in cerebellar function (whether caused by injury or genetic mechanisms) aren’t the cause of autism, but they are potentially a significant cause of autism.”

“Autism researchers have been hacking away at the genetics for years, but genes are a far cry from brain circuits,” says Wang. “There’s such a gap between genes and child development. I hope our article can help bridge that gap.”


Early Brain Injury Might Be the Root of Autism
(The Daily Beast, September 9, 2014)

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3 COMMENTS

  1. “Autism researchers have been hacking away at the genetics for years, but genes are a far cry from brain circuits”
    That is what anyone who is has any idea about neuroscience should know. We have the genome and the wiring diagram of an earth worm and still can’t understand how it’s behaviour gets generated let alone mammals, let alone humans.

  2. There’s apparently also a link between autism and the MMR vaccine, according to a CDC whistle blower, I’ve read. And I think I’ve also read that mothers who take antidepressants during pregnancy have a higher chance of having a child who has autism.

    Creating diagnoses out of lists of symptoms really makes no sense whatsoever, because any number of things can cause various symptoms, and just dismissing a person as “mentally ill” doesn’t allow one to figure out what’s actually wrong with the person and possibly help them. Or prevent the same thing from happening to others.

    What’s good, though, is we’ve figured out that the puzzle behind autism is that autism is just a catch all diagnosis based upon a list of symptoms, not a real disease. I remember in 2006, before I had researched medicine, when I was going through my drug withdrawal induced “psychosis” / awakening to my dreams, that I drove past a car with one of those autism puzzle bumper stickers and innately knew then that autism was an invalid “disease.”

    • That is certainly true. Autism (like all the DSM) is just a bunch of symptoms which can be caused by a lot of different things bundled together and labelled as one condition.
      I don’t know about the MMR vaccine specifically (could you pass me a link maybe?) but the general idea of vaccines causing autism as such was debunked – there were numerous studies and none has shown a connection. Plus with many vaccines the benefits clearly outweigh the risks like in case of polio. That is not to say that vaccines do not have the same problems as all the other medicines these days – the avian flu panic scam is clearly one of them.

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