The Familial Risk of Autism

On the way to a leaving lunch the other day, I was tuned into Radio 4 listening to an article on Autistic Spectrum Disorder and the lengths to which some parents will go to help their children. One mother interviewed was spending up to £700 every three months on dietary supplements. Her child had been diagnosed with a variety of imbalances and too much mercury (a part of Thimerosal – useful link here: She had also been told children with ASD are unable to excrete certain toxins as well as children without it. To a medical professional who is used to Evidence Based Medicine and with a suspicion of some of the ‘quackery’ practised by certain organisations (plus their fees), I found myself getting angry at people being taken for a ride. I also thought that these parents are so desperate for help and so dedicated to their children, they spend thousands of pounds on treatments which are essentially placebo treatments. An expert in the field made valid comment on the paucity of good quality research out there with only £4M being spent annually compared to £650M on cancer and £150M on cardiovascular diseases.

Coincidentally I received my daily InfoPOEM today which summarised an article about ASD. I talked about how ICT can be used to help improve knowledge and skills ‘whenever and wherever’. I used to subscribe to this when a) it was very expensive (my subscription of $249 pa expired in 2007) and b) when I was writing my assignment & thinking about how I had used learning technologies in the past to assist in my education. From the Essential Evidence Plus website:

‘Daily POEMs (“Patient-Oriented Evidence that Matters”) are synopses of new evidence carefully filtered for relevance to patient care and evaluated for validity. Daily POEMs emerge from continuous review, grading, and critical appraisal of all 3000+ studies published monthly in more than 100 journals. Using Essential Evidence Plus, you will have complete visibility into the archived collection of 3,500+ regularly updated Daily POEMs. Tap into summaries of relevant and essential evidence-based research that are presented in an easy-to-understand format. Quickly identify and understand the information you need and apply the research to your clinical practice’

It is now $85 pa and I have re-subscribed with one of the intentions of blogging about freely available full text articles raised by InfoPOEMs with my own take on them. One of the concerns I have realised immediately is how easy it is to infringe on copyright and inadvertently plagiarise. I have linked to the InfoPOEMs site in the vain hope lenience will be applied by the judge when I am sentenced as a charlatan poaching other people’s hard work.

I have linked to the full text of the article. This is essentially a large cohort study of over 2 million patients which looked how relatedness affected risk of ASD. The most closely related were monozygotic twins with decreasing relative risk with reduced relatedness. There is a lot more to it than that though and with such a large cohort, it carries some weight. The article is worth a read as it is relevant to primary care, is a similar population (Swedish) and is applicable in the context of counselling parents who may visit for advice.

Click to access sandin-et-al_2014.pdf

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