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Dr. Hanes Swingle, professor of pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, gives patient Michael Shaw a high five during an appointment Dec. 7, 2015, at the USA Autism Diagnostic Clinic.
Researchers at the University of South Alabama Department of Pediatrics and Division of Clinical and Translational Sciences in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have developed a clinical study examining a potential connection between human exposure to environmental toxins and the incidence of autism spectrum disorder in children.
The importance of this research is underscored by the fact that the cause of autism spectrum disorder is not well understood,” explained Dr. Swingle, who is director of the USA Autism Diagnostic Clinic with USA Physicians Group and the principal investigator for the study site in Mobile. “Most experts agree that autism is caused by several factors or develops when a combination of factors exists.”
“In this study, we will closely look at two potential links in autism - genetics and the toxins we encounter in our environment as well as their relationship with one another,” Dr. Swingle explained.
According to Dr. Swingle, the project involves two study groups – a study group of children impacted by autism spectrum disorder and a second control group of typically developing children without autism. “We have successfully recruited our study group who have autism and now are recruiting participants who do not have autism,” Dr Swingle said.
Researchers are seeking volunteers from the Mobile area to participate in this clinical research project. Study participants must be between the ages of 2 and 8 years old and have parental consent to participate. The study involves completing a questionnaire, a physical assessment and lab tests.
“Autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurodevelopment disorder that is usually diagnosed in early childhood,” explained Dr. Swingle. “It affects language development, communication, imagination, cognition and social interactions.”
To learn more about participating in this clinical research project, call (251) 415-8577.
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