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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Be Cautious About Reporting Autism Research

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss various ideas about what causes the condition and how to treat it.  I also write:  "If the science were not confusing enough, its coverage in the mass media has added another layer of murk.  News reports hype tentative findings and weak correlations as “breakthroughs” in the quest for autism answers. "

A release from Stanford Medicine:
Autism diagnosis is slow and cumbersome, but new findings linking a hormone called vasopressin to social behavior in monkeys and autism in people may change that. Low vasopressin in cerebrospinal fluid was related to less sociability in both species, indicating the hormone may be a biomarker for autism.
A release from the University of California at San Diego:
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine are preparing a first-of-its-kind, multidisciplinary investigation to determine if and how cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant, provides therapeutic benefit to children with severe symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
In both cases, the research could turn out to be productive.  Or it could turn out to be a dead end, which is why headlines like this are wildly premature:

Autism test and treatment on horizon as scientists find hormone deficiency link