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UC Davis to begin identifying eligible families for study on environmental factors in autism

(SACRAMENTO, CALIF.) -- UC Davis researchers are ready to launch the first-ever major epidemiological case-control study of up to 2,000 California children to examine genetic and environmental factors that may affect the development of autism, mental retardation and developmental delay in children.

Parents of children who recently have become eligible to receive services from California's Regional Centers will receive information on how their child can join the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study of children between 2 and 5 years of age. Recruitment will continue over the next three years as newly diagnosed children enter the Regional Center system, which coordinates services to developmentally disabled children and adults for the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

This study is one of three projects within the UC Davis Center for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention, that was created last fall with grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the M.I.N.D. Institute at UC Davis. The center is the first to specifically look at severe impairments of social behavior in relation to both genetic and environmental factors. "Most importantly, our researchers will be tackling how genes and environmental factors interact," said Isaac Pessah, the center director and professor of molecular biosciences at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

"It's clear that genes play a role in autism and developmental delay, but evidence suggests that the environment is also an important factor," said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center. "By studying a large number of children with different types of development, we expect to gain a better understanding of the multiple ways autism and other developmental delays may occur." Hertz-Picciotto,
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Contact: Martha Alcott
martha.alcott@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9027
University of California, Davis - Health System
5-Dec-2002


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