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Autism Researchers Discover Possible Causes

The Journal of American Medical Association just published a study of possible causes of autism completed by researchers from the University of California at Davis. The team found that a biological "mitochondrial dysfunction" may be the cause of the baffling developmental condition.

Researchers from UC Davis studied ten children, ages two to five years who participated in a 2003 study in California known as the Childhood Autism Risk From Genes and Environment. The team found that mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and other factors contributed to the prevalence of autism.

Though researchers have yet to identify precisely what triggers and if autism is a brain disorder or biological illness, they have determined that damaged mitochondria is prevalent in children with autism. Researchers found that the disturbances in energy production in children with autism were not due to genetic mutations but a lack of function within brain cells. The brain cells are unable to produce enough energy, which causes oxidative stress. Neurons within the cells misfire, and brain connections are just not made in children with autism.

Additionally, researchers found children with autism had mitochondrial dysfunction, mtDNA overreplication, and mtDNA deletions - all detectable through white blood cells known as lymphocytes. The neurodevelopment, brain function, and behavior of autistic children is greatly impacted as a result of the mitochondrial dysfunction, but the mitochondrial condition is easily reversible and may assist children living with autism.

Mitochondrial dysfunction is easily treated and often reversed by removing environmental toxins, eliminating infections, determining food and environmental allergens, and detecting, as well as replenishing, nutritional deficiencies.

For more: AMA

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