Monday, June 22, 2009

Link between autism and anorexia?


Is there a link between autism and anorexia? Autism has been a really hot topic over the past several years as celebrities and other high-profile individuals have argued about a link between pediatric vaccination and autism. An article on Time suggests that there may be a genetic link. If anorexia is largely caused by a genetic component, then it could also be linked to autism.

Consider these points from the Time article:
  • Both anorexic and autistic patients have a tendency to behave obsessively and suffer from rigid ways of thinking...
  • In both conditions, patients have difficulty with "set-shifting," or changing course mentally
  • "Both autism-spectrum conditions and anorexia share a narrow focus of attention, a resistance to change and excellent attention to detail," says Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University...
  • Past research suggests that about 15% to 20% of patients with anorexia may also have Asperger's syndrome, an autism-spectrum disorder...
  • There is evidence that the "repetitive thoughts and behaviors, rigid routines and rituals and perfectionism" that characterize both autism and anorexia may be traced to the same regions in the brain...
So what does all this mean? What if autism and anorexia are somehow genetically similar? From a diagnostic perspective, perhaps this will help guide clinicians to identify patients who may be at risk for developing related symptoms. Eventually, this type of research could impact the way clinicians treat patients who have either condition. To read the article on Time, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin