Autism Health Policy Forums

SafeMinds is forming Autism Health Policy Forums that address four potentially life-threatening, commonly co-occurring conditions with autism. They are:

The purpose of the forums is to identify current research findings that may have clinical application for patients with autism today—but are not yet being used in most settings. The forums will also identify gaps in research that are necessary for providing the safest and most effective treatments for people with autism.

SafeMinds research committee members are developing the parameters for each forum, and are identifying the most appropriate researchers and clinicians for them. We are also seeking funding sources, from both public and private sources, to implement the forums. If you are interested in supporting the forums, consider a donation to SafeMinds.

May 24, 2018

Why We Can and Should Focus on Autism Prevention

In light of the recent increase in autism from 1 in 68 to 1 in 59 children in just two years, a new video by scientist Bruce Lanphear it worth watching and sharing. The video makes the case for preventing chronic diseases like autism rather than chasing down genes or finding cures. In “Cause or Cure. Is the relentless pursuit of a cure hazardous to our health?”, Dr. Lanphear says that more health and science dollars need to be directed to prevention. His approach to prevention is identifying environmental exposures that promote disease and then investing in removing these exposures.

April 23, 2018

Two Treatments with Positive Results and the High Cost of Autism

Two abstracts being presented this week at the annual conference of the American Academy of Neurology report positive outcomes from two treatments for autism. A third article on healthcare utilization reports double the cost for adults with autism. A MitoCocktail was tested in eleven children with autism and mitocondrial (mt) dysfunction. Mt dysfunction is common in autism. The MitoCocktail contained carnitine, coenzyme Q10 and alpha-lipoic acid. Investigators Craig Newschaffer and colleagues at Drexel University conclude: “This small pilot study supports the hypothesis that in ASD MitoCocktail may have a therapeutic benefit, improving mt function and maladaptive behavior and speech. Larger placebo-controlled trials are needed to demonstrate efficacy.”

April 13, 2018

Help Find the Causes of Autism through the National Birth Defects Registry

The non-profit Birth Defect Research for Children maintains a registry of thousands of children with birth defects. Through a questionnaire completed by parents, the organization is helping to link pre-conception and pre-natal exposures of parents with disabilities in their children. Autism is one condition they focus on. Parents of a child with autism can help identify pre-birth risk factors for autism by completing a registry questionnaire. Autism parents may not think of autism or a developmental disability as a “birth defect”, and some parents may feel that the cause of their child’s autism happens from exposures after birth, i.e., in early childhood, or is due to genetics. However, the research from this registry is applicable to autism and to cases that might have a genetic or a childhood exposure component.

April 12, 2018

Long Term Functional Improvement from an Achievable Diet and Nutrition Protocol

A new study by researchers at multiple universities has found that a comprehensive dietary and nutritional regimen is effective at reducing symptoms of autism, increasing functioning level and reducing associated gastrointestinal (GI) problems. The regimen is safe, uses readily available products, and can be implemented by the average family. Lead investigator James Adams of Arizona State University and colleagues tested a combination of supplementation with vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids, sulfate through epsom salt baths, carnitine, and digestive enzymes, as well as a “healthy” diet. The creation of the treatment protocol was based on prior research showing effectiveness of each of the components individually. This study was the first to test them as a combined treatment over a period of one year. The goal was to determine if the components together would have an even greater positive effect than that reported for each individually. Another goal was to measure the effects of the diet and nutrition protocol over a longer period of time, as these types of interventions may take longer to show an effect than a standard drug.

April 05, 2018

Canada Announces Autism Prevalence Study Results – On Time and Going Up

While America’s attention has been focused on its southern border, our northern neighbors have announced the results of a Canadian autism prevalence study. The study received little attention in the U.S., despite its relevance to our situation here. The study found the prevalence of an autism spectrum disorder among Canadian children to be 1 in 66, or 15.2 per 1000 children. The study results were announced by the Public Health Agency of Canada and survey data was collected in 2015 and covered 40% of the Canadian school-aged population ages 5-17. Seven of the 13 provinces/territories in Canada participated in the survey.

March 29, 2018

Autism’s Co-Occurring Conditions: Time to Act

The evidence is piling up on the severe burden of health problems that accompany autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These problems are often unrecognized and not addressed. According to a new study from scientists with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), “the high prevalence and diversity of co-occurring conditions/symptoms in ASD suggest the need for a comprehensive system of care for these children.”

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