Monday, April 19, 2010

Autism Challenges American Science to Seek Cure

The struggles of parents and children coping with autism was in focus again when an 11-year-old autistic girl in Florida was found Tuesday in a swamp, incredibly four days after going missing.
Her story had a happy ending, but for millions of children, many challenges remain, CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.
Autism is a brain disorder, typically diagnosed when a child is 2 or 3. Among Americans, it has skyrocketed 600 percent over the last two decades from 1 in 1,500 kids in the 1990's to 1 in 110 kids today and 1 in 70 boys.
Part of the solution may come at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There, a lab's testing the DNA of autism in a revolutionary way.

Dr. Hakon Hakonarson is the hospital's director of the Center for Applied Genomics. He's found two-thirds of autistic people share a certain gene mutation.
"If I was able to fix this gene or eliminate it, how many autism cases would then go away?" Hakonarson asked. "That is as high as 15 percent - one-five - 15 percent of cases."

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