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November 12, 2013

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

University at forefront of autism center plan

FUDAN University plans to spend three years establishing the nation’s biggest center for autism identification, diagnosis and treatment.

The Shanghai university will team up with universities and hospitals in eight provinces and municipalities to undertake an epidemiological study of 120,000 Chinese children with autism, aged between six and 12.

It will also collect biological samples from 1,200 autistic children to study the incidence and factors behind autism in China.

Training will be given to 100 community doctors, 100 primary school teachers and 50 special needs teachers in eight regions to help with early autism screening and intervention.

Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and usually repetitive or stereotyped behavior.

Dr Wang Yi, vice president of the Children’s Hospital of Fudan University where the research center is located, said autism is a complicated condition with different clinical symptoms.

“The condition may be jointly caused by multiple genes and the environment,” she said.

“We’re not very clear about its mechanism, although some studies have found that the older the father, the higher prevalence of children with autism.”

The World Health Organization has estimated that there are at least 1 million children with autism in China.

Studies in some cities found that one in 120 children had autism. But there are fewer than 10 hospitals with qualified medical teams on the condition.

Experts say the earlier an autistic child is diagnosed the better treatment can work.



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