Medical geneticists discuss Autism Spectrum Disorders
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
Friday, March 20, 2009