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Why autism?

In "Blood hints at autism's source" (SN: 4/16/05, p. 254), researcher S. Jill James implicates low glutathione and heavy metal exposure in autism. This maybe the case, but glutathione has a number of important functions that have nothing to do with heavy metal binding. As an antioxidant, glutathione reduces toxic free radicals. Glutathione is also a key factor in the maintenance of cellular redox poise. It goes without saying that it is also possible that low glutathione is correlated with, but not causative of, autism.


I would venture that at least part of the explanation for the rise in autism's incidence is related to its recent recognition. When I was a kid, there was no such thing as autism. You can't diagnose something you don't recognize.


Studies published in the past 2 years have investigated the extent to which autism's increasing incidence traces to changes in diagnosis. At least a few of these studies have found that incidence has increased even after accounting for better diagnosis. --J. RALOFF
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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:Raloff, J.
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jun 11, 2005
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