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Medical geneticists discuss Autism Spectrum Disorders

Medical geneticists from across the state gathered Friday, Feb. 20 for the Lowcountry Genetic Conclave. Jane Charles, M.D., was keynote speaker for the meeting, which focused on Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) cause impairment in thinking, feeling, language and the ability to relate to others. These disorders are usually first diagnosed in childhood and can range from mild to severe. Charles, an associate professor of pediatrics in MUSC’s Department of Pediatrics/Division of Genetics and Child Development, discussed advances in ASD research, including an established baseline for ASD that will allow a standard for comparison of future prevalence data, an increased awareness of autism and a platform for policy reform.
Accurate reporting of ASD prevalence stemming from this established baseline will help people plan for necessary resources including therapies, trained teachers, diagnosticians, health care providers, and related service pro-fessionals. It also will provide justification for limited research dollars, greater awareness, and lead the way to more effective intervention and prevention.
Epidemiological studies conducted through the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network have helped pass the Combating Autism Act, which promises to double the money available for autism research over the next five years and attract greater numbers of researchers. This research also has made autism a public health priority, by pressing the American Academy of Pediatrics to publish a protocol for pediatricians to develop a strategy for early identification of children with ASD.
The S.C. Genetic Conclave has allowed genetic professionals from Charleston, Columbia, Greenwood and Greenville to meet on a routine basis for the past few decades and present their research findings.
Since the Genetic Conclave has been in existence, funding for genetic outreach services and support for general services has been made available by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs for genetic centers at MUSC, Greenwood Genetic Center and University of South Carolina.


Friday, March 20, 2009

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