NZ scientists research autism cause




Researchers in New Zealand have set their sights on finding the underlying causes of autism.

Ambitious researchers in New Zealand have set their sights on finding the underlying causes of autism.
Source: 1 NEWS

The project looks at genetics and also examines the link between what happens in the bowel and the brain.

Ros Hill observes the condition not just as the mother of Claude, whose development has been slowed by autism spectrum disorder, but also as a neurologist.

"He's never really learned to talk, so he's just turned 10 and that's one of his big issues, his inability to communicate," Ms Hill said.

"The technology that has developed in the last few years allows us to analyse the genetic has opened up a huge opportunity," Ms Hill said.

"We're absolutely convinced that we are in a position to win this race and understand what causes this condition."

It's thought about 45,000 New Zealanders have some sort of autistic disorder and the researchers want those people to register on their database and take part in the study.

One researcher is examining the potential link between autism and the gut because many autistic people suffer from bowel problems.

Microbiologist Mike Taylor says most people can relate to the feeling of butterflies in the stomach when they are nervous.

"That's essentially your brain talking to your gut," Mr Taylor said. "But it really looks like this is a two way street and the bacteria that live in the gut that are so important to us can also have an effect on the brain."

Researchers believe one possibility is that toxins from the digestive system are escaping into the body.

"They should stay in the gut basically, but if they were to get out of the gut and into the bloodstream that's a potential avenue that might affect the brain," said Mr Taylor.

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