Autism Speaks Launches Pediatrician Outreach Initiative to Increase Awareness about the Diagnosis and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Problems

Consensus Statement Developed by Expert Panel Includes Recommendations for Care Specific to Children with Autism


NEW YORK, NY (February 28, 2007) -- Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research, has launched a new awareness initiative that will provide thousands of pediatricians with updated information about diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal problems in their patients who have autism. More than 43,000 physicians across the country will receive a consensus statement that includes specific recommendations for evaluating patients who present with GI symptoms and determining an appropriate treatment plan. Gastrointestinal problems are common among children with autism and often a source of significant discomfort and distress.

The consensus statement was developed by an expert panel of pediatric gastroenterologists and autism specialists convened last October by Autism Speaks. The statement is based on their expert clinical opinions and currently available data in medical literature. To read the consenus statement, click here (PDF); for a cover letter from Autism Speaks President Mark Roithmayr, click here (PDF).

“Because of their deficits, many children with autism are not able to effectively communicate their symptoms or discomfort to their doctor,” said Dr. Andy Shih, chief science officer of Autism Speaks. “This outreach initiative reflects Autism Speaks commitment to ensuring that children with autism receive the best medical care possible. We want to encourage professional awareness in the medical community about specific medical issues, such as GI problems, that affect many of these young patients.”


ABOUT AUTISM

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.


ABOUT AUTISM SPEAKS

Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism, and to advocating for the needs of affected families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman, General Electric, and served as chief executive officer of NBC for more than twenty years. Autism Speaks has merged with both the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's three leading autism advocacy organizations. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.

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