The following stories appear in full on today's Vidyya Medical News Service Web site.
Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have identified a gene that may predispose people to developing autism. The gene, known as HOXA1, plays a crucial role in early brain development. The study was conducted by a research team in NIH's Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism and was published in the December issue of Teratology.
Autism is a complex, life-long, developmental disability that results in social interaction problems, communication difficulties, and restrictive or repetitive interests and behaviors. One in 500 persons might be affected by some form of the disorder.
A citizen’s group in Brick Township, New Jersey contacted the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) in late 1997 with concerns about an apparently larger than expected number of children with autism in Brick Township. Because of the complexity of the disorder and the citizens’ concern that environmental factors might play a role, the New Jersey DHSS, U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli, and U.S. Representative Christopher Smith contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) for assistance. A report in today's issue presents the results of the prevalence investigation.
Women with epilepsy may not be getting adequate healthcare according to a new survey released today by the Epilepsy Foundation and reported in the November issue of the "Journal of Women's Health and Gender-based Medicine." The survey has documented a low level of knowledge and a high degree of uncertainty among health care professionals about best practices in caring for women with the disorder. It is the first national assessment of knowledge and awareness of health issues for women with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder that is characterized by unprovoked, recurrent seizures that disrupt communication among brain cells. Although epilepsy is often amenable to clinical treatment through medications, surgery, and diet, it can be a life-altering condition for persons affected by it. These life-altering effects result in part from the unpredictability of the seizures, which can curtail, to some degree, daily activities such as driving, school attendance, and employment. Persons with epilepsy and seizures also contend with the discrimination and misunderstanding of those around them—the results of decades of stigma and misunderstanding about the disorder and its consequences.
As always, we hope you enjoy the issue.