The preliminary findings, published this month in the International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, were taken from an ongoing study of 200 Canadian infants, the largest study of its kind in the world. The infants, many of whom have been followed from birth to 24 months, are younger siblings of children who have been diagnosed with autism.
Studies show that families with one autistic child have a roughly five to10 percent chance of a second child being diagnosed with autism, a rate of recurrence about 50 times higher than the general population.
The Canadian study, which began as a collaboration of McMaster University's
Offord Centre for Child Studies in Hamilton, The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, has gained international attention. Initially funded by The Hospital for Sick Children Foundation, and currently by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), it has mushroomed into a global initiative involving leading autism researchers in 14 cities across Canada and the U.S.
Chaired by Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, a developmental pediatrician with the Offord Centre and McMaster Children's Hospital and a lead investigator for the Canadian study, the Canada - U.S. Baby Sibs Research Consortium is supported by the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the U.S. It is widely regarded as one the most exciting developments in autism research today.
"This is groundbreaking work that is pushing the frontier of what we know about the biological nature of autism, and why it emerges so early in life," says Dr. Zwaigenbaum. "Our hope is that it will lead to
Contact: Veronica McGuire
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