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Would You Support Prenatal Autism Screening?

Earlier this week, researchers at Cambridge University published results of an eight-year study linking high rates of testosterone in the womb (specifically amniotic fluid) with autism traits in children. The researchers performed amniocentesis on 235 pregnant women. The results have some people advocating for prenatal autism screening, similar to those for Down's syndrome, to help parents better prepare for the birth of a special needs child. Parents of autistic children are speaking out against the test, fearing it will lead to less support for children with their condition.

The lead researcher for the study, Simon Baron-Cohen (Sacha Baron-Cohen's first cousin) said:

"If there was a prenatal test for autism, would this be desirable? What would we lose if children with autistic spectrum disorder were eliminated from the population? We should start debating this. There is a test for Down Syndrome and that is legal and parents exercise their right to choose termination, but autism is often linked with talent. It is a different kind of condition."

Would you want to know if your child had a greater chance of being on the autism spectrum before he was born?

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JadesMom JadesMom 7 years
This is a slippery slope. Considering the contributions many with autism have made to our society, we don't exactly know what we may be eliminating from the human race.Autism is a spectrum, from mild, where one may never be diagnosed, and simply labeled "odd" or "eccentric" throughout their life.These amnio tests, cannot determine the severity of a child's autism, neither can any genetic marker for autism.Children with autism are more likely to have fathers and grandfathers in engineering and other related fields. Autism does not affect one's IQ, and in fact, most autistic individuals have normal- increased IQ levels. It is up to us to determine what is causing severe forms of autism, not to eliminate autism. Besides, imagine where our world would be without the contribution of Bill Gates? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qNVe024RvI&feature=related
JadesMom JadesMom 7 years
This is a slippery slope. Considering the contributions many with autism have made to our society, we don't exactly know what we may be eliminating from the human race. Autism is a spectrum, from mild, where one may never be diagnosed, and simply labeled "odd" or "eccentric" throughout their life. These amnio tests, cannot determine the severity of a child's autism, neither can any genetic marker for autism. Children with autism are more likely to have fathers and grandfathers in engineering and other related fields. Autism does not affect one's IQ, and in fact, most autistic individuals have normal- increased IQ levels. It is up to us to determine what is causing severe forms of autism, not to eliminate autism. Besides, imagine where our world would be without the contribution of Bill Gates? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qNVe024RvI&feature=related
foxie foxie 7 years
Who doesn't love a perfect baby?
Sarana Sarana 7 years
I am against tests like this. Because it doesn't end with one illness, it will spread and spread and in the end only perfect babies are born.
facin8me facin8me 7 years
lickety, for most children on the spectrum early intervention is very important. For 10% of children those interventions will not be enough. Nobody is going to think that for those 10% that their parents didn't do everything available for their children. That doesn't change the reality that for most children, identifying the problem and intervening early is the key to a better, though not ideal, outcome.
lickety-split lickety-split 7 years
this test doesn't sound helpful. it tells you if the child is likely to have autistic traits, not if the child will be autistic. you can have autistic traits and live a great, independent life, verses having autism where the child is probably going to need life long care and have minimal quality of life.and i don't need anyone telling me that these kids have great quality of life, because i have a child on the autism spectrum and am VERY involved in boards and groups and know hundreds of other parents with autistic children so i know exactly the kind of lives the majority of them are and will lead.anyway, if there was a test that did screen for autism i would support it 100% and cannot imagine why anyone wouldn't.and early therapy isn't "the key" for children for autism. there is no key. we did everything available for our child, and so did most of the parents i know with kids on the spectrum. level 3 care facility, level 4 care facility; it's still a care facility. that child will never be independent, will always be vunerable to those it depends on for care and will out live the parents by 20 to 40 years. who's going to look out for the individual with autism after the parents go, huh? the state? yes, we see how well that works for foster care children, expect more of the same.
lickety-split lickety-split 7 years
this test doesn't sound helpful. it tells you if the child is likely to have autistic traits, not if the child will be autistic. you can have autistic traits and live a great, independent life, verses having autism where the child is probably going to need life long care and have minimal quality of life. and i don't need anyone telling me that these kids have great quality of life, because i have a child on the autism spectrum and am VERY involved in boards and groups and know hundreds of other parents with autistic children so i know exactly the kind of lives the majority of them are and will lead. anyway, if there was a test that did screen for autism i would support it 100% and cannot imagine why anyone wouldn't. and early therapy isn't "the key" for children for autism. there is no key. we did everything available for our child, and so did most of the parents i know with kids on the spectrum. level 3 care facility, level 4 care facility; it's still a care facility. that child will never be independent, will always be vunerable to those it depends on for care and will out live the parents by 20 to 40 years. who's going to look out for the individual with autism after the parents go, huh? the state? yes, we see how well that works for foster care children, expect more of the same.
Gruberr1 Gruberr1 7 years
I think Simon Baron Cohen's quote is particularly interesting. I can only imagine how heated this debate will become.
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 7 years
I would support it 100%
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 7 years
I would support it 100%
facin8me facin8me 7 years
Hopefully any general test for this kind of thing wouldn't involve amniocentesis...Since early intervention is key for children with autism, I would support this kind of test so that therapy could start early.
facin8me facin8me 7 years
Hopefully any general test for this kind of thing wouldn't involve amniocentesis... Since early intervention is key for children with autism, I would support this kind of test so that therapy could start early.
flyinggrip flyinggrip 7 years
If you read the article it states that the high levels of testorone are liked to autistic traits not autism. I think the science behind this proposed test still needs to be further studied. Also, I think its ridiculus to say that autism is different from Down syndromw because "autism is often linked with talent." There are many individuals with Down syndrome who are very talented and contribute great things to society. Not that I am agianst this type of testing, I am very much for the avaliblty of prenatal screening and diagnosis, however I believe that who ever opts to have this type of testing should talk to medical professionals and be fully educated about what the testing can and cannot tell you.
foxie foxie 7 years
"Three, amniocentesis is risky in and of itself and should only be performed if the pregnant woman is presenting with a problem."I assume you mean a risk of miscarriage. But actually the risk for miscarriage due to amniocentesis on a woman who is under 35 is less than 1%.I support this test being available for women who wish to take it.
foxie foxie 7 years
"Three, amniocentesis is risky in and of itself and should only be performed if the pregnant woman is presenting with a problem." I assume you mean a risk of miscarriage. But actually the risk for miscarriage due to amniocentesis on a woman who is under 35 is less than 1%. I support this test being available for women who wish to take it.
kindo1313 kindo1313 7 years
I definitely do not think this test is a good idea. One, even talking about a screening is premature since this was one study with a sample size of only 235 women. Two, if the results of the study are that higher levels of testosterone show a higher likelihood of autism, I'd like to know what that higher likelihood is. There are already so many prenatal tests with high rates of false positives. Three, amniocentesis is risky in and of itself and should only be performed if the pregnant woman is presenting with a problem. I don't think it's a risk that should be taken just to see if my baby might have a higher risk of autism. I think we should be putting resources into helping families who are already affected by autism, as well as researching what causes it in the first place.
depeche3 depeche3 7 years
I support this test 100%. I would definitely sign up for it if it was available.
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