The Politics of Autism includes an extensive discussion of scientific research.
Thousands of Northern California families of children with autism are being recruited to join a new project to help scientists understand how heredity and environmental factors determine where each youngster falls on the spectrum of the disorder.‘Teasing apart the [autism] spectrum, we might makes some leaps forward.’
Kaiser Permanente aims to sign up 5,000 children and young adults with autism — along with their biological parents — to contribute a blood or saliva sample to a “biobank” that will enable researchers to track and identify common factors in various types of autism.
Kaiser Permanente has 3.8 million members in Northern California, with 17,000 children and adults diagnosed with autism. Because participating children are Kaiser health plan members, researchers plan to evaluate their health records in conjunction with the genetic samples in an effort to unlock insights into autism causes, best treatments, medications and possible prevention strategies.
“We have a really incredible population to study,” said Lisa Croen, director of the Kaiser Permanente Autism Research Program and a senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. “We have lots of information for them like lab tests, medications taken –- a huge wealth of clinical information. We have the ability to re-contact these families and collect even more.”
Since recruitment began in July, Kaiser has enrolled 270 families, health plan officials said.
“This resource can’t exist without families participating,” Croen said. “Hopefully, together we can all make a difference.”