Autism Research News

The seventh annual International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) was held last May 15 – 17 in London. Autism Speaks has provided brief summaries of some of the IMFAR presentations in the areas of autism etiology, biology, diagnosis and treatment.

2008 IMFAR Shows Progress in All Areas of Autism Research

The seventh annual International Meeting for Autism Research recently concluded in London with more than 1150 researchers from around the world attending and making more than 850 presentations. Among the countries represented were Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela and Vietnam.

ETIOLOGY
The following are brief summaries of some of the IMFAR presentations in the areas of autism etiology, biology, diagnosis and treatment. The record number of attendees and the depth and breadth of the science presented signals that autism research is truly becoming global, with advances being made across the board. But most importantly, the science presented and discussed will help individuals and families who are living with autism by uncovering more effective means to diagnose, treat and determine the causes of autism.

Environmental Science
Several presentations focused on the role of the environment as a risk factor for autism. Genetic risk factors may be acted upon by additional environmental factors to ultimately cause autism. This year IMFAR hosted an educational symposium concerning links between the environment and autism. These presentations, led by Craig Newschaffer, Ph.D., were intended to educate the community on ongoing research and current thinking in environmental health science, genetics and epidemiology that is relevant to the investigation of environmental risk factors in autism. This symposium also served to complement other presentations on environmental exposures that are being examined for links to autism, which include such factors as method of birth induction, ultrasound frequency, as well as chemical exposures found in the home.

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Source: Autism Speaks

Physical Therapists Help Detect Lymphedema

There was a recent study made which shows that pre-operative assessments of patients with breast cancer by physical therapists allow for early diagnosis and successful treatment of lymphedema.

The study, conducted by the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and in collaboration with the University of Michigan-Flint and George Mason University, was published in the journal, Cancer (April 25, 2008). The authors demonstrated the effectiveness of a surveillance program that included pre-operative limb volume measurement and interval post-operative follow-up to successfully detect and treat lymphedema, a chronic and often irreversible condition that can cause significant swelling of the upper and lower extremities due to the build-up of excess lymph fluid.

“This study is significant for several reasons, but none more so than it showing that detection and management of lymphedema at early stages may prevent the condition from progressing to a chronic, disabling stage and may enable a more cost-effective, conservative intervention,” said American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) spokesperson and the study’s lead author, Nicole L Stout Gergich, PT, MPT, CLT-LANA, of the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) Breast Care Center, in Bethesda, Maryland.

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2008 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures

What else is there to know about Alzheimer’s disease aside from the most common symptom of massive memory loss? Well, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, the 2008 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures is a comprehensive statistical abstract of U.S. data on Alzheimer’s disease that includes: prevalence; mortality; the costs of Alzheimer’s care; family caregiving; and a special report on lifetime risk.

The Association’s report details the escalation of Alzheimer’s disease, which now is the seventh-leading cause of death in the country and the fifth-leading cause of death for those over age 65. It also offers numerous statistics that convey the burden Alzheimer’s imposes on individuals, families, government, business, and the nation’s health and long-term care systems. For example:

  • Every 71 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease; by mid-century someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.
  • Women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop Alzheimer’s disease (17 percent vs. 9 percent). One in six women and one in ten men age 55 and older can expect to develop Alzheimer’s disease in their remaining lifetime. Although it may appear that being female is a risk factor, more women will develop Alzheimer’s because on average, women live longer than men, thereby having more time to develop the disease.
  • In 2007, there were nearly 10 million Americans age 18 and over providing 8.4 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s disease valued at $89 billion, four times more than what Medicaid pays for nursing home care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
  • In addition, a quarter million American children age 8 to 18 years old are providing care to loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
  • There are 1 to 1.4 million “long-distance caregivers” in the United States. About 1 million live more than two hours or more away and another 400,000 live at least an hour away from their loved ones.  Many of these long-distance caregivers also incur higher caregiving-related expenses compared to other caregivers.
  • Seventy percent of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias live at home where friends and family take care of them.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

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