Much about autism is unknown, but researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) are working to learn more about the neurodevelopmental disorder and its most effective treatments. A team of researchers from URMC joins researchers from across the world in San Diego this week for the 10th annual International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR).
Rochester researchers are presenting six abstracts on topics ranging from complementary medicine-use rates to nutritional insufficiencies in children with autism spectrum disorders. They even looked at how artificial food dye might affect children with autism.
"It's incredibly important that we find the most effective interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders," said Susan Hyman, M.D., chief of Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at URMC's Golisano Children's Hospital and an active autism researcher and clinician. "We also need to examine whether traditional and non-traditional treatments may be helping or causing harm, and what roles environmental factors may be playing in autism."
Hyman said that participation in the Autism Treatment Network (ATN) funded by Autism Speaks and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and partnering with the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has allowed the growth of clinical research related to autism at URMC. The abstracts presented this week reflect Rochester data and analyses of the ATN database of more than 3,000 children and youth across 15 ATN sites in the U.S. and Canada.
Autism and nutrition
Patricia Stewart, Ph.D., R.D., director of Bionutrition for the CTSI at URMC, examined the nutritional intake of children with autism, including supplement use. It is important to understand how the significant food related behaviors and aversions that children with autism impact their current and future health. Her abstract shows that two-thirds of children with aut
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University of Rochester Medical Center