Medical Research Update

Article excerpt

DOWN SYNDROME CHROMOSOME DECODED

A team of scientists has successfully sequenced the DNA of chromosome 21, which is the most common genetic link to Down syndrome. (People born with Down syndrome usually carry three copies of chromosome 21, instead of the usual two.) The foremost benefit of identifying these genes and tmderstanding how, when, and where they operate could bring scientists closer to developing gene therapy to treat the syndrome. Dr. Roger H. Reeves, a geneticist at Johns Hopkins University says, ".....Defining the players and the playing field is a very major step that the Down syndrome community has been working toward for years." The research team makes up part of the consortium of academic centers led by the National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust of London. The research was published in the May 18, 2000 issue of Nature.

AUTISM AND VACCINES: NO LINK, SAY DOCTORS AND RESEARCHERS

Two prominent health organizations, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Network for Immunization Information (NNII), testified before a U.S. House Government Reform Committee that no scientific evidence exists linking autism to any of the vaccines commonly administered to young children. The Committee was convened to look into the marked rise in autism diagnoses in the US, and claims that childhood vaccinations may be the cause. The two organizations (among others, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]) stand by their recommendations that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccinations--those most widely blamed for the apparent increase in autism--continue as normal. Vaccines remain the safest way, the organizations say, to protect children against potentially devastating infectious diseases. The President of the AAP, Donald Cook, MD, says, "While I support any effort to discover the reason a child has autism, current scientific data indicate that vaccines are not the cause. What a tragedy it would be for any child to suffer the consequences of a disease that could have been prevented by vaccination." Critics of routine vaccinations claim that because the signs of the disorder begin to show during the first three years of life--a time when most vaccinations are given--there must be a link. Meanwhile, the AAP and other health researchers continue to look into other possible causes of the disorder. For more information, call the CDC at (800) 311-3435, or go to the following CDC URL address: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe/concerns/autism/.

NEW ADHD DIAGNOSIS GUIDELINES ISSUED

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued this month stronger guidelines in evaluating and diagnosing children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. …