London: Faults in children`s genes may bethe new clue to autism in children, say scientists. A landmark study by 60 teams of experts from12 countries, published in the `Nature` journal, has revealedthat many autistic children suffer a rare mutation in theirDNA from the moment they are conceived.
They hope their finding may one day lead to simpleDNA tests that will help them identify children with geneticautism earlier. But, it will not identify every child withautism because sometimes the condition is triggered by otherfactors, say the scientists. In fact, the study shows that the genetic mutationswere almost 20 percent more common in autistic children. One British team from Oxford University, working withcolleagues from Newcastle, has already applied for funding fora pilot study that will look for the genetic glitch in 1,000newly diagnosed autistic children. Professor Tony Monaco, who is leading the Oxford teamfrom the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, was quotedby the `Daily Express` as saying, "Our research suggests thatthis type of rare genetic variation is important and accountsfor 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 andtreatment of this condition. Just knowing about these geneticchanges can help the families involved come to terms with whytheir child has autism, but it can also be important indetermining future risk." PTI
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