If there was a prenatal test for autism or a test that would tell you that you are a carrier of a gene (or several genes) that would predispose your future children to autism, would you get the test? Why or why not?
What happens to the children with autism when they grow up? I have worked with many children with autism whose parents spend many a sleepless night worrying about this. Will I be able to care for them? Will they have to go to an institution? What services are out there when my child with autism becomes an adult with autism?
A friend of mine recently sent me an article from New York Magazine that discusses the neurodiversity movement, which believes that society should accept autism as "another way of wiring the brain." This is a topic that I am often faced with as a researcher trying to understand the neural basis of autism with the long-term goal of developing more effective treatments. Here is the ethical dilemma...
Many parents of children with autism choose to restrict their child's diet to eliminate Gluten (wheat protein) and Casein (milk protein). Claims have also been made that once a child has been put on this restrictive diet, their autism has been "cured", so is there any truth to this?
Very hot and very controversial topic in the autism literature is whether mercury or vaccines or mercury in vaccines cause autism. In my opinion, No. Now a different question is whether mercury or vaccines are harmful to certain children either in utero or later in development. To this, my answer is maybe. Let's first look at the statements commonly used to support the belief that vaccines cause autism.
After telling people that I am a researcher studying autism, I am often asked the above question. Unfortunately, there is no straight answer for this question. If one goes back in the literature, it is true that for decades (several studies conducted from 1966-late 1990's) the prevalence estimates were on the order of 4-5:10,000 while studies conducted over the past decade have estimated the prevalence on the order of 2-6:1,000 with one study showing as high as 12:1,000. So, why this difference? Is it a real increase in the prevalence of the disorder or something else?
I first want to introduce myself. My name is Dr. Lindsay Oberman. I am a researcher in Boston Massachusetts and am currently working at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Harvard Medical School. My research over the past several years has focused on the brain basis of autism spectrum disorders.