Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Possible genetic screening at birth to help parents:

Researchers identify combination of genes that indicate risk of ADHD, autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia.
By Motherpedia
Date: February 11 2013
Editor Rating:

Genetic screening at birth may allow researchers to determine a child’s risk of developing mental illness later in life, according to researchers from the Queensland Brain Institute.

Associate Professor Charles Claudianos and Dr Alex Cristino have analysed genetic data from groups of patients with mental illnesses such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia, to identify combinations of genes that indicate a risk of developing a particular illness.

By arranging the thousands of genes they identified as being involved in these diseases into acomplex network, the researchers have developed an analytical tool to predict which disease will arise from a certain combination of genes.

Currently, developmental brain disorders like autism and ADHD are diagnosed by observing behavioural and mental abnormalities in children, such as delayed language development and impaired memory and learning.

In five years, the researchers would like tobe able to screen the DNA of newborns and older children to make a molecular diagnosis, determining the child’s risk of developing a mental illness or improving the accuracy of an existing diagnosis based on behaviour.

Such an early diagnosis would allow interventions such as speech therapy and intensive education to be started early in life, programs which have been shown to significantly improve learning outcomes in children.

The researchers hope to further develop the tool as part of a proposed new Co-operative Research Centre for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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