Biochemical Studies on Autism

  • A. Yuwiler
  • E. Geller
  • E. Ritvo


Like many contemporary clinical designations, the term early infantile autism refers to a clinical syndrome and not an etiologically homogeneous disease. This is a distinction of some importance in evaluating the existing literature on the syndrome and in devising strategies for its biochemical elucidation. The term was coined by Kanner1 in 1944 to identify a syndrome of four key symptoms: the early onset of profound disturbances in relating to others; great difficulty or inability in developing communicative speech; displays of stereotypic motor behavior; and insistence on a stable environment. While Kanner’s clinical descriptions were clear, whether they defined a distinct clinical entity was open to debate.2–6 Currently defined as a syndrome of disturbances in perception, developmental rate, relating, language, and motility, and sanctified by inclusion in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMS-III), the question of whether the syndrome should be considered a distinct “disease” is unresolved. What is clear, however, is that the syndrome can be associated with, and may be secondary to, a number of etiologies. Autistic behavior occurs in a significant number of phenylketonurics7 and in about 8% of the cases of maternal rubella.8 It has been found associated with tuberous sclerosis,9 Hurler’s disease, congenital hypothyroidism,10 and some cases of fragile x syndrome.11,12


Autistic Child Child Psychiatry Congenital Hypothyroidism Pyridoxal Phosphate Enterochromaffin Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Yuwiler
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. Geller
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. Ritvo
    • 2
  1. 1.Neurobiochemistry LaboratoryVeterans Administration Medical CenterLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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