Study Will Investigate the Causes of Autism
> 11/19/2007 11:05:06 AM

The number of children diagnosed with autism has increased in recent years and the disorder is now said to affect about 1 in every 150 children. As researchers continue to examine the disorder and question its causes, the largest study to compare children with autism and other developmental disorders to those without developmental disorders is moving forward. The Study to Explore Early Development (SEED) has begun enrolling participants and will collect data over the next five years.

SEED aims to involve 2,700 children between the ages of two and five living in California, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, or Pennsylvania. The researchers hope that by examining children with autism spectrum disorders and children without these disorders, they can identify risk factors for autism. Through interviews and physical exams, the researchers will gather information on the physical health and behaviors of the children and their parents, medical issues that may have occurred during pregnancy, as well as genetic and environmental factors that may be related to autism and developmental delays. They will look at how the family's characteristics and behavior contribute to the child's development, including such factors as the parents' tobacco and alcohol use during pregnancy, the parents' age, and the parents' handling of chemicals.

The researchers hope to uncover more information relating to the potential causes and risk factors of autism spectrum disorders. With more information about which risk factors are most strongly linked to autism, future research can better address the most pressing concerns about autism. Hopefully, this study along with future research will provide us with better treatment options to help children with autism spectrum disorders and their families.

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