Friday, November 24, 2006
Autism is being diagnosed in more children than ever - 1 in 166, according to the CDC. The disorder affects a 1.5 million people, a number that could grow to 4 million in the next decade, according to the Autism Society of America.
Since we first aired our program on autism last summer, a few things have changed. Back then, autism groups had high hopes for more funding to find the disorder's cause. In August, the Senate passed the "Combat Autism Act," which authorized nearly $1 billion over five years for research. The House was expected to take the issue up this fall. That didn't happen. However, the chairman of the committee where the bill got stuck is still hoping for a compromise in December, before congressional leadership changes hands.
In October, researchers from Vanderbilt University reported that a child with two copies of a specific gene mutation is twice as likely to develop autism than one without the mutations. A month earlier, a study from Israel suggested that if a father is over 40 at conception, his child's risk for autism goes up, possibly because sperm from older men may have more genetic defects. These are just a few more parts of the puzzle of autism spectrum disorders. There are still too many pieces missing.
Tune in to House Call this weekend at 8:30 a.m. ET for more on the causes of autism and the tolls it takes on families. Our guest is Dr. Anshu Batra from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. In addition to specializing in treating children with autism, she's the mother of two autistic children.
Also this weekend at 8 p.m. ET, watch CNN Presents: Autism Is A World, a rare look at autism through the words of a young woman who lives with it.
ABOUT THE BLOGGet a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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