Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Autism & Anorexia - something to get your teeth into...

For all sorts of reasons I won't bore you with, I have an interest in autism...
...and have always been a little at variance with the belief that there will never be a brain anomaly, -(function and/or structure)-, explanation for autism.

I have believed for years that most,-if not all-, illness  is best understood as being a continuum  process and not just a spectrum. And that autism is no different.
And that it is in fact a "disease" in the sense that there may be a medical explanation for the behaviours and possibly a genetic  treatment, even if there might never be a cure.

So my interest was particularly  piqued by this article,  Do girls with anorexia nervosa have elevated autistic traits? published in the current edition of Molecular Autism which is a peer-reviewed, online open access journal that publishes high-quality basic, translational and clinical research that has relevance to the etiology or treatment of autism and related neurodevelopmental conditions.

In June 2009, Time magazine published an article entitled  "A Genetic Link Between Anorexia and Autism?".

The introduction to the article said : "At the Eating Disorders Unit at the Maudsley Hospital in London, anorexia is not seen as a social disorder — or even primarily a psychological one. While most American treatment providers blame perfection-seeking parents and the media's idealization of hollow-cheeked actresses for eating disorders (among other dysfunctional behaviors), researchers at Maudsley believe the root cause has little to do with social pressure. 
Rather, they think anorexia is better explained by heredity — perhaps by some of the same genes associated with autism."

It discusses a number of different studies and ends by saying, "according to Dr. Eric Hollander, an attending psychiatrist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City and an expert on autism, 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. 
Imaging studies of patients with either condition have found variations in the activity of brain regions like the anterior cingulate cortex, for example, where disruptions contribute to obsessive-compulsive behavior and aberrant social behaviors"

Read the full 'Time' article here :,8599,1904999,00.html

So the study published this month tested whether patients with anorexia nervosa (anorexia) have an elevated score on a dimensional measure of autistic traits, the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), as well as on trait measures relevant to the autism spectrum: the Empathy Quotient (EQ), and the Systemizing Quotient (SQ). 

And concluded that females with anorexia have elevated autistic traits. 
Clinicians should consider if a focus on autistic traits might be helpful in the assessment and treatment of anorexia. 
It warned though that future research needs to establish if these results reflect traits or states associated with anorexia.

Read the whole article here

And just for the record.....vaccinations do not cause autism.

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