London: Faults in children`s genes may be
the new clue to autism in children, say scientists.
A landmark study by 60 teams of experts from
12 countries, published in the `Nature` journal, has revealed
that many autistic children suffer a rare mutation in their
DNA from the moment they are conceived.
While their parents have normal DNA and therefore show
no signs of the disorder, the children are born with multiple
copies of some sections of their DNA with other parts missing,
according to the scientists.
They hope their finding may one day lead to simple
DNA tests that will help them identify children with genetic
autism earlier. But, it will not identify every child with
autism because sometimes the condition is triggered by other
factors, say the scientists.
In fact, the study shows that the genetic mutations
were almost 20 percent more common in autistic children.
One British team from Oxford University, working with
colleagues from Newcastle, has already applied for funding for
a pilot study that will look for the genetic glitch in 1,000
newly diagnosed autistic children.
Professor Tony Monaco, who is leading the Oxford team
from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, was quoted
by the `Daily Express` as saying, "Our research suggests that
this type of rare genetic variation is important and accounts
for a significant portion of the genetic basis of autism.
"By identifying the genetic causes of autism,
we hope in the future to be able to improve the diagnosis and
treatment of this condition. Just knowing about these genetic
changes can help the families involved come to terms with why
their child has autism, but it can also be important in
determining future risk."