Debate: Should we test for autism in the womb?

Discussion in 'Health and Lifestyle' started by DavidS, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. DavidS
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    DavidS Anti-Tea Party Member

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    Autism can be detected in womb-Health-Health & Science-The Times of India

    Close on the heels of a cancer-proof baby being born in UK, screened in the womb to exclude a cancer-causing gene, a new research raises possibility of prenatal screening for autism by potentially identifying the condition in unborn babies. Scientists at Cambridge University discovered that high levels of testosterone in the amniotic fluid of pregnant mothers was linked to autistic traits in their children, the Telegraph reported on its website on Monday. The findings raise the possibility of undertaking tests in the womb to detect the condition, which would allow parents the controversial ability to decide whether to terminate fetuses. Experts are now calling for a debate on the consequences of the screening process, called amniocentesis, which is already used to detect Down’s syndrome in unborn babies. “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?” professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the research team, was quoted by the Guardian as saying. “We should start debating this. There is a test for Down’s syndrome and that is legal and parents exercise their right to choose termination, but autism if often linked with talent. It is a different kind of condition.” Experts from the university’s autism research centre discovered the testosterone link after studying 235 children from birth to the age of eight. They found that when high levels of the hormone were found, children showed autistic traits such as a lack of sociability and verbal skills by the time they were eight.

    Flip side: We might lose geniuses in the process. People with autism include those with extraordinary abilities in mathematics and music. And as researchers report that they might be able to detect autism in the womb, the debate about whether this would be ethical is intensifying. Autistic kids have an extraordinary grasp of facts, but they have no concept of analysis or interpretation. With this incapacity comes social isolation, an inability to form lasting relationship, reports Times Online. The thousands of autistic children are at the centre of an ethical debate with far-reaching consequences. Within a few years it may become possible for expectant mothers to have prenatal tests to determine if their child is likely to be autistic.
    Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge, says that autistic males often turn out to be skilled at mathematics and engineering — some reaching near-genius level. He says that Newton and Einstein were almost certainly autistic, finding relationships difficult. Artists, too, have suffered from autism or Asperger’s — including the blind pianist Derek Paravicini and, reportedly, the film director Steven Spielberg. So if we found a test for autism, and gave parents the opportunity of aborting the fetus, we might eliminate not just a difficult child but a potential genius.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2009
  2. Zoom-boing
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    Zoom-boing Gold Member

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    They're basing a test that might be able to detect autism based on 235 children? I think alot more research needs to be done. The gene or chromosome for autism (if there even is one) has not been discovered, which makes the fact that they are saying they are using amino, as they do for Downs, somewhat misleading. It implies that doing an amnio for autism will give a definite answer as it does with Downs. Downs is a condition (also known as trisomy 21) in which an the child receives an extra chromosome. An amnio gives a definitive answer as to whether a child will be born with Downs; this test for autism doesn't. Children 'lacking in social and verbal skills by the time they are eight'. Lacking by how much? In what way? Are these two things accompanied by anything else? No nearly enough info here, imo.

    Well, the Times might want to do a little more research. Unlike Downs, autism is not so cut and dried. Autism is a spectrum disorder with extremes at either end and a smorgasborg of everything in between. While these kids may share similar characteristics, what holds true for one kid in the realm of say, social interaction, may not hold true for another child. I highly doubt an amnio test will be able to give results for exactly where on the spectrum a child would fall.


    Likely? How likely? Do what degree likely? No numbers, no stats?


    I HATE the way they lump autistic people into the 'genuis' or 'difficult' category, as if those are the only two possibilities. What about all those babies that fall into the in-between? No mention of them I see. Do they count at a chance for life or are they clumped into the 'disposable' category?

    They think Newton and Einstein may have been autistic just because they found relationships difficult? Wonder if Sir Issac and Al would have wanted to be aborted because they were . . . different? Why don't I ask my ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) son if he would rather we never let him be born.

    Obviously, on the abortion end of this article, I am opposed. As for testing for autism? When they come up with a definitive test with definitive answers.
     
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  3. RetiredGySgt
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    RetiredGySgt Platinum Member

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    Another excuse to murder the unborn.
     
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  4. random3434
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    random3434 Senior Member

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    Now maybe autism:

    Unbelievable.

    What is next, tests for blindness, deafness, whatever disability your child may have? Abort it if it's not going to turn out perfect?

    When will they discover a test to see if you have a serial killer in the womb I wonder?
     
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  5. Gord
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    Gord Active Member

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    I'll agree to selective abortions when we can determine whether the baby agrees to be aborted or left in a soiled linen closet to die of exposure and neglect...

    or

    I'll agree to selective abortions when the baby selected to be aborted can then select their parent to be left in a soiled linen closet to die of exposure and neglect...

    or

    I'll agree to selective abortions when we can detect in the womb those who will later become disposed toward choosing their children based on selective abortions so they can first be selected out to be left in a soiled linen closet to die of exposure and neglect...
     
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    Last edited: Jan 12, 2009
  6. Dis
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    No, but we should have a standard basic comprehension test that one must pass in order to vote.

    Far more productive, don't you think?
     
  7. random3434
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    random3434 Senior Member

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  8. Againsheila
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    Againsheila Gold Member

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    I have two autistic children and I'm convinced it's the vaccines that caused the autism. Now, there may be some genetic link that the vaccines set off, in that case, if you are informed of the predisposition, perhaps not getting the vaccines would prevent them from getting autism.

    At any rate, a lot more study needs to be done.

    BTW, what caused me to believe it was the vaccines, quite simply, was the Patriot Act. At the very last minute a rider was put on that protected Ely Lilly, the makers of thermerosal (the mercury preservative) from being sued specifically for causing autism.

    I have no faith in our leaders whatsoever.
     
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  9. Anguille
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    Anguille Bane of the Urbane

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    I personally would not want to have a severely autistic child nor a child with many other disabilities others might be fine with. I would be glad of any tests that would signal things like that so I could abort and try again.
     
  10. Anguille
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    Anguille Bane of the Urbane

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    Thankfully it's none of your business what anyone else choses so who gives a shit what you agree or don't agree to.
     

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