Latest research on Autism: a new theory
Anecdotal evidence that autistic children improve when they have a fever was confirmed last year when the journal Pediatrics published a study documenting their positive behavioral changes. In November of 2008, scientists at Yeshiva University’s Einstein College of Medicine published a theory that may explain these changes. They suggest that the brains of autistic people are structurally normal but disregulated, meaning that the symptoms of autism might be reversible.
They describe a case of epigenetic changes, in other words changes that happen to the fetus during gestation. The authors theorize that prenatal stresses on the mother during development cause disregulation of the locus coeruleus-noradrenergic (LC-NA) system. The LC-NA system is a pervasive neural system that can cause changes in the functioning of the neural networks involved in the core features of autistic disorders.
The importance of this theory lies in its promise for development of new therapies and diagnostic approaches to autism, as well as other neuropsychiatric disorders.