The CHARGE Study (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment) is a case-control study of 2,000 children with differing patterns of development. These include children with autism, children with developmental delay but not autism, and typically developing children. Subject groups will be compared with regard to a broad array of exposures and physiologic factors. Autism cases will also be characterized into more homogenous subgroups to determine whether particular genes or environmental exposures are associated with certain subtypes of this condition.
In *my* words:
they’re taking kids 2-5 with all sorts of developmental situations and looking at their environmental exposures back to pregnancy… meds you took, agriculture you lived near, hazardous materials at work, pesticides and paint you used, every time you were sick, ate fish, took a vitamin, gave your kid tylenol, as best you can remember up until now.
they take hair, urine, and spit from the whole family to test genetics and heavy metals and who knows what else. They use baby’s first haircut too.
they collect medical records from everywhere possible, even mom’s dentist and delivering hospital. Questionnaires galore about health/sleep/behavior/eating/…
then they do about 5 hours of developmental / psychological testing on the kid.
the goal is to break “autism” into subtypes. For example, one type could be regressive and caused by toddler heavy metal exposure, another type may be more genetically determined and non-regressive, another type may have more of the immune dysfunction and be triggered by vaccinations, another type may have a certain genetic marker, late regression, and come with a cluster of gut symptoms.
The point of subtypes would be more accurate diagnosis and better fitting a treatment plan to the kid’s situation.
If you’re thinking that looking back and trying to remember what you took for that cold in ’04 isn’t the very best way to study this, no fear, another current study is actually tracking kids *during* pregnancy and early life.
But 1) you’ve got to get pregnant 2) I think they’re full. It was on 60 minutes last year and the buzz was high.
So anyway, we finished today. it was really interesting to be involved in. hmmmm, don’t know where to start.
I don’t know if they’re still recruiting. Pay was $250 for about 20 hours work, but if you needed all these reports done, it would be so very worthwhile. At the last visit talking with all the drs about what they’re looking at and where the research is going next, and having this fun day just with E… it was really a great time and well worth it.