Good News or Bad news ! Autism can be detected in womb.

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Mylove
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12 Jan 2009, 4:09 pm

Please read this Article from TimesofIndia.



Autism can be detected in womb

Close on the heels of a cancer-proof baby being born in UK, screened in the womb to exclude a cancer-causing gene, a new research raises possibility of prenatal screening for autism by potentially identifying the condition in unborn babies.

Scientists at Cambridge University discovered that high levels of testosterone in the amniotic fluid of pregnant mothers was linked to autistic traits in their children, the Telegraph reported on its website on Monday.
The findings raise the possibility of undertaking tests in the womb to detect the condition, which would allow parents the controversial ability to decide whether to terminate fetuses. Experts are now calling for a debate on the consequences of the screening process, called amniocentesis, which is already used to detect Down’s syndrome in unborn babies.

“If there was a prenatal test for autism, would this be desirable? What would we lose if children with autistic spectrum disorder were eliminated from the population?” professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the research team, was quoted by the Guardian as saying. “We should start debating this. There is a test for Down’s syndrome and that is legal and parents exercise their right to choose termination, but autism if often linked with talent. It is a different kind of condition.”

Experts from the university’s autism research centre discovered the testosterone link after studying 235 children from birth to the age of eight. They found that when high levels of the hormone were found, children showed autistic traits such as a lack of sociability and verbal skills by the time they were eight.


Flip side: We might lose geniuses in the process
People with autism include those with extraordinary abilities in mathematics and music. And as researchers report that they might be able to detect autism in the womb, the debate about whether this would be ethical is intensifying.
Autistic kids have an extraordinary grasp of facts, but they have no concept of analysis or interpretation. With this incapacity comes social isolation, an inability to form lasting relationship, reports Times Online.
The thousands of autistic children are at the centre of an ethical debate with far-reaching consequences. Within a few years it may become possible for expectant mothers to have prenatal tests to determine if their child is likely to be autistic.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge, says that autistic males often turn out to be skilled at mathematics and engineering — some reaching near-genius level. He says that Newton and Einstein were almost certainly autistic, finding relationships difficult. Artists, too, have suffered from autism or Asperger’s — including the blind pianist Derek Paravicini and, reportedly, the film director Steven Spielberg. So if we found a test for autism, and gave parents the opportunity of aborting the fetus, we might eliminate not just a difficult child but a potential genius.



falcorn
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12 Jan 2009, 4:12 pm

i'd rather there be more aspies, i'd fell like less of an outcast



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12 Jan 2009, 4:24 pm

I always take these kinds of studies with a grain of salt. First of all, did they include a suitable sample size? Not only does coming to a conclusion based on only 235 subjects seem a bit sketchy, but you don't even know the ethnicities or genetic predispositions of these subjects. Secondly, how do they know that it was JUST testosterone in the amniotic fluid that led to the onset of the autistic traits (note that they merely said "autistic traits" and not "autism"). I wouldn't call myself an expert in the field, but I just don't see that one factor leading to a prenatal test for autism (like we even need to have one in the first place)



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12 Jan 2009, 4:31 pm

agree with the above, but also a lack of testosterone would indicate a non autistic foetus and that could have it's uses too, for people who prefer autism.



Willard
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12 Jan 2009, 4:35 pm

Mylove wrote:
Please read this Article from TimesofIndia.
Scientists at Cambridge University discovered that high levels of testosterone in the amniotic fluid of pregnant mothers was linked to autistic traits in their children, the Telegraph reported on its website on Monday.


This is far from proof of anything, much less a reliable test. Leave it to the media to stir up a controversy where none yet exists. Personally, AS appears to run in my father's side of our family, so is unlikely to be related to levels of amniotic anything.



garyww
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12 Jan 2009, 4:43 pm

That's kind of akin to being able to spot the tendencies towards nicotine addiction in the womb as the fetus exhibits 'traits' that seem to be 'kind of like' other stuff that 'might' indicate a 'possible' way for some research groups to get some grant money.


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12 Jan 2009, 4:53 pm

Image


Sorry, but it had to be said.



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12 Jan 2009, 5:15 pm

Seems to me that if you're selecting your aborted foetuses (foeti?) on the basis of "elevated" levels of testosterone in the amniotic fluid, you're going to wind up birthing a rather high proportion of females...


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12 Jan 2009, 5:18 pm

Lol, NQ.

OK, the science is dubious, and the facts in the article aren't really facts; the writing is too loose. BUT, the article does jump right into the key question: what would society lose? And, personally, I'd suggest that it would be a LOT.


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NocturnalQuilter
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12 Jan 2009, 5:22 pm

DW_a_mom wrote:
Lol, NQ.
OK, the science is dubious, and the facts in the article aren't really facts; the writing is too loose. BUT, the article does jump right into the key question: what would society lose? And, personally, I'd suggest that it would be a LOT.


Define "a lot". I agree with a previous (or other) post that stated the contributions of Person's on the Autistic Spectrum are vastly over rated, over counted and over hyped. Does anyone really think that if Einstein hadn't lived there wouldn't have been another scientist (NT or otherwise) able to do the same work?



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12 Jan 2009, 5:42 pm

NocturnalQuilter wrote:
DW_a_mom wrote:
Lol, NQ.
OK, the science is dubious, and the facts in the article aren't really facts; the writing is too loose. BUT, the article does jump right into the key question: what would society lose? And, personally, I'd suggest that it would be a LOT.


Define "a lot". I agree with a previous (or other) post that stated the contributions of Person's on the Autistic Spectrum are vastly over rated, over counted and over hyped. Does anyone really think that if Einstein hadn't lived there wouldn't have been another scientist (NT or otherwise) able to do the same work?


Ah, but it isn't that simple. You can't just tally up historic achievements and base everything on that. Life is complex. Society is complex. We're all part of the fabric and often times we don't even know what role each thread is designed for ... until you pull it out. And sometimes, even then, it isn't clear if you've got a tiny snag or a substantial weakening in the fabric.

I think we've lost a lot by culling out Down's children before they are born, and there aren't many historic achievements tied to that. I recall one of my teen year experiences, being around the severe Down's child of one of my teachers. That child taught me things about life. It's difficult to explain, but she provided a window on things that is hard to find otherwise.

And so it is with AS. My son provides a new window. And, yes, he brings talents. He's an asset to his school and his community. People really feel that, they tell me that. And, yet ... it's difficult to define or articulate exactly what he is bringing to the table at times. The gifts come with burdens.

But, you know, important things in life rarely come without some sort of burden attached to them. Anyone trying to skate through life without any burdens and without any hardship isn't going to experience much of anything. Which is sort of what I see our world being left with if you take out all the unique and "disabled" individuals: a really dull and plain piece of fabric that exists but doesn't transcend.


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garyww
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12 Jan 2009, 5:57 pm

Thankfully I wasn't aborted and I do admit that I've been a burden but I like to think that I've been an interesting burden. My parents have not had regrets even though they've had a lot of misgivings over the years. Hopefully I've contributed in my small way to improving life for other humans on this rock.


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12 Jan 2009, 6:05 pm

I think that's very bad news. Now mothers are going to start aborting their unborn autistic children. That really makes me sick. Another reason for expectant mothers to murder their unborn special needs children.


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12 Jan 2009, 6:05 pm

DW_a_mom wrote:
NocturnalQuilter wrote:
DW_a_mom wrote:
Lol, NQ.
OK, the science is dubious, and the facts in the article aren't really facts; the writing is too loose. BUT, the article does jump right into the key question: what would society lose? And, personally, I'd suggest that it would be a LOT.


Define "a lot". I agree with a previous (or other) post that stated the contributions of Person's on the Autistic Spectrum are vastly over rated, over counted and over hyped. Does anyone really think that if Einstein hadn't lived there wouldn't have been another scientist (NT or otherwise) able to do the same work?


Ah, but it isn't that simple. You can't just tally up historic achievements and base everything on that. Life is complex. Society is complex. We're all part of the fabric and often times we don't even know what role each thread is designed for ... until you pull it out. And sometimes, even then, it isn't clear if you've got a tiny snag or a substantial weakening in the fabric.

I think we've lost a lot by culling out Down's children before they are born, and there aren't many historic achievements tied to that. I recall one of my teen year experiences, being around the severe Down's child of one of my teachers. That child taught me things about life. It's difficult to explain, but she provided a window on things that is hard to find otherwise.

And so it is with AS. My son provides a new window. And, yes, he brings talents. He's an asset to his school and his community. People really feel that, they tell me that. And, yet ... it's difficult to define or articulate exactly what he is bringing to the table at times. The gifts come with burdens.

But, you know, important things in life rarely come without some sort of burden attached to them. Anyone trying to skate through life without any burdens and without any hardship isn't going to experience much of anything. Which is sort of what I see our world being left with if you take out all the unique and "disabled" individuals: a really dull and plain piece of fabric that exists but doesn't transcend.


There was an episode of Star Trek Voyageur that clearly showed something like that. It was titled Year of Hell, part 1 & 2. Basicly one race of aliens has designed a weapon that alters the time-space continuum by removing threads from existance. This group that developed the weapon was slowly losing a war and wanted to turn the tables, so they did so by using the weapon to remove the ancestors of the group they were waring against from existence. This caused a gene that was introduced into the race that controlled the weapon to no longer exist, and that gene allowed them to fight off one disease. The captain of the ship that the weapon was on lost his wife due to the disease that he made his race susceptable to, and his race's population was dwindling because of it. In the end the problem was fixed by removing the weapon itself from existance.

A potential screening process and what it means to society would be much like that temporal weapon. It would be like removing a thread from our existance, the ASD thread, and could cause much harm to society, and the only way that harm can be prevented, much like the episode of Star Trek would be to remove the weapon from existance, or in this case, not allow prenatal testing for autistics to ever become an option, or more so, the abortion of a child based completely on the idea that the child is ASD. If a person wants to test for a disorder through prenatal testing, then they should have to sign off saying they do not intend to abort the child, and become unable to abort. If they want to abort, it must be done before prenatal screening.



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12 Jan 2009, 6:05 pm

This is only a first study; it has to be reviewed by peers, and the research duplicated, before it can be scientifically validated.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.