A new finding suggests there may be more genetic links to Autism than previously thought. A study just released sheds new light on what may cause the brain disorder in children.
When Melissa Kimmell's son Jonah was diagnosed with Autism, she was devastated. "I think I heard him say mommy once. And he's 6." When doctors told her younger son Gabe was also Autistic, she was shocked. "I wouldn't trade my family for the universe and I love my boys more than anything. But it's a struggle."
The Kimmells donated their DNA to an Autism gene bank; the largest ever studied by scientists around the world. Dr. Stanley Nelson of UCLA is one of those geneticists and he says the DNA pool shows a more complex array of genes may be behind Autism than previously thought.
He says, "In Autism there has been very strong evidence that there is a genetic component for decades, but we thought as a community that the number of genes playing a role might be pretty small."
In fact, the opposite now appears to be true, leading Nelson and his colleagues to conclude that hereditary origins of Autism are far more diverse than they realized. Researchers need more DNA samples to continue their work, which is just beginning. Dr. Stanley says, "Ultimately, we are working for cures or treatments or a better understanding of autism."
And giving Jonah, Gabe, and Melissa a reason to hope.
The "Autism genetic resource exchange" is actively looking for families who have at least one autistic member. To participate, you can call 1-888-Autism-2.