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Medicine Science

Urine Test For Autism 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the urine-trouble-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Defining and diagnosing autism has been a controversial process — but may be a little less so now. Children with autism have a different chemical fingerprint in their urine than non-autistic children, according to new research. The difference stems from a previously documented difference in gut bacteria found in autistic individuals. The possibility of a simple pee test matters because currently, children are assessed for autism through a lengthy testing process that explores a child's social interaction, communication, and imaginative skills. Being able to identify the condition earlier and at a lower cost could leave more time and money for treatment."
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Urine Test For Autism

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  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @12:17PM (#32469076) Homepage Journal

    3 fluid ounces, definitely 3 fluid ounces.

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      The testing will go something like this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWiUwiHmCoo [youtube.com]

  • Diet? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bazman (4849) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @12:35PM (#32469176) Journal

    Maybe these kids just aren't eating what other kids are eating.

    Sadly even my university access doesnt extend to the Journal of Proteome Research without me stumping up $30 for two days of access, so I can't check the statistics. They had a sample of 39 (35M + 4F) autistic children, their 28 siblings (14M+14F), and 34 age-matched controls (17F+17M). Don't know why they didnt age- and sex-match the controls.

    Pretty small sample, and if you look for enough different proteins in urine you might well find something different.

      NEEDS MOAR DATA! And an open access journal!

    • Autistic Diet (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Guppy (12314) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @01:05PM (#32469386)

      Maybe these kids just aren't eating what other kids are eating.

      Exactly what I was thinking, it is well known that autistic persons tend to be notoriously picky about their diet. This is one of the main explanations for the findings of abnormal gut flora (and the contentious alternative that the casual link goes the other direction).

      Which is not to say that the casual link between bacteria and autism necessarily only flows one way, it could be both. For instance, consider a hypothetical "basic autism" -> very picky eating -> abnormal gut flora -> additional problems that get lumped in with "autism symptoms". What I'm curious to know if anyone's tried a "Fecal Transplant" [wikipedia.org] to normalize an autistic person's gut bacteria.

      • by icebike (68054)

        So you guys didn't read TFA either?

        Quote article:

        Non-autistic children with autistic siblings had a different chemical fingerprint than those without any autistic siblings, and autistic children had a different chemical fingerprint than the other two groups.
        end-quote.

        So even sibs can be distinguished with this test. Presumably they would eat the same foods in the home.

        • Autistic kids don't eat like the other kids. The other kids are normal, the autistic one needs to get the same old special stuff or they will not eat anything and become malnourished. We have 1 in the family. I think the study would need to feed the controls the same stuff as the autistic kids their are pair up with; I'm also curious if gender pairing matters at this age.

          • by icebike (68054)

            So, you didn't read TFA either?

            The researchers reached their conclusions by using H NMR Spectroscopy to analyse the urine of three groups of children aged between 3 and 9: 39 children who had previously been diagnosed with autism, 28 non-autistic siblings of children with autism, and 34 children who did not have autism who did not have an autistic sibling.

            They found that each of the three groups had a distinct chemical fingerprint. Non-autistic children with autistic siblings had a different chemical fingerprint than those without any autistic siblings, and autistic children had a different chemical fingerprint than the other two groups.

            I give you that the autistic child might eat differently.

            But their non autistic siblings?

            Why can this test distinguish between non-autistic siblings and totally unrelated non-autistic individuals?

            Genetic or Environmental?

      • by bjourne (1034822)

        Maybe these kids just aren't eating what other kids are eating. Exactly what I was thinking, it is well known that autistic persons tend to be notoriously picky about their diet. This is one of the main explanations for the findings of abnormal gut flora (and the contentious alternative that the casual link goes the other direction).

        Autistic children aren't picky about their food in a uniform way. One child might not eat crackers because they make a crack sound when you bite on them. Another might not eat peas because they are green and green is icky a third not fish because of the smell and so on. So their pickiness about food can not explain the urine sample differences that the study measured.

        • I had a client who wouldn't eat anything except orange foods. What was kindof funny was that he had a better diet than many kids without autism because he'd happily eat orange vegetables. His lunch would be something like one package of cheese crackers with peanut butter, a Sunkist soda, and a bag of carrots or a sliced-up orange bell pepper.
          I've never seen two picky-eaters with autism with the same dietary preferences (except those packaged peanut-butter crackers; they consistently love those).

    • by casings (257363)

      You would think that the parents could tell if one sibling had a different diet than the other.

      • by Pharmboy (216950)

        You would think that the parents could tell if one sibling had a different diet than the other.

        Most people with two+ kids have kids with different diets. Most parents just give up and let the kids eat what they want, within reason. One kid has a bologna sandwich, the other, peanut butter. For dinner, one eats green beans and macaroni and cheese, the other eats fried chicken and green beans with a biscuit. Or maybe one eats another peanut butter sandwich. It isn't like the old days, when my mom (of 7 ki

    • Re:Diet? (Score:5, Informative)

      by takowl (905807) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @01:54PM (#32469770)

      Happily my access does cover it (link [acs.org] for anyone else who wants to try).

      The statistics look...mediocre. There's enough there, I think, to make it an interesting avenue for research, but it's definitely not a 'urine test for autism' (to be fair, the paper doesn't claim that, the blog and the summary exaggerate it).

      What differences there are are pretty minor, and only some of them are apparently significant between the autistic children and their siblings (as opposed to the unrelated controls). I'm not altogether happy that some of the controls are from a different location, although they have found that there is no significant difference between the two control subgroups, but it's still a bit dodgy. They're also using statistical methods I don't know ("Projection to latent structure discriminant analysis"). Finally, I don't see any evidence that they've done corrections for multiple tests, although some of their results are P < 0.001, which would probably withstand that.

      All in all, it strikes me as a case of the Science News Cycle [phdcomics.com].

      Disclaimer: I am a biologist, but in a very different field.

    • I certainly hope it works so every other mother I meet can stop telling me her child's autistic.
  • by RussR42 (779993) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @12:35PM (#32469178)

    Clearly they simply test the urine to look for vaccines [know-vaccines.org]...

    We all know about correlation [xkcd.com] and causation!

    • by coolgeek (140561)

      We all know about correlation [xkcd.com] and causation!

      Apparently not. All discoveries of causation are prompted by some kind of correlation.

  • After all, it seems (just google immigrant children autism) that autism is correlated with, what would appear to be at first sight, initial conditions of social exclusion, to some degree.

    And now this. Not necessarily contradictory, oh no. Most interesting possibility, actually - after all, people from various regions have different gut flora. Would be fascinating to realise that it influences our behaviour to such a degree...

  • Urine test? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Sir, we've got your urine test results, and it turns out that... ...urine sane!

  • The whole concept is a farce. The "research" upon which this test was based in fraudulent. Sad.

    http://www.scientificblogging.com/rugbyologist/festival_idiots_3_andrew_wakefield_vaccines_and_autism [scientificblogging.com]

    • by icebike (68054)

      Seems your link has nothing at all to do with the story at hand.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gruntled (107194)

        Look harder: The story is about a test that can identify autism based on urine, because autistic kids have different bacteria in their gut than non-autistic kids. The link is to a summary of the retraction of the entire theory that autistic kids have different bacteria in the gut than non-autistic kids; the scientist who submitted that paper fabricated his results (as the link states).

        • by icebike (68054)

          Actually the link points to a story about discrediting an assertion that Mercury in vaccines causes autism.

          No one had discredited actual measurements of differences in gut bacteria.

          • by gruntled (107194)

            Wakefield's theory was not about mercury in vaccines (nor is the link I first posted); it was about vaccines somehow causing a gut infection, leading to symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome (see the previous article) which led directly to autism. It was all bunk. And it killed people.

            • by icebike (68054) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @01:48PM (#32469734)

              But Wakefield has NOTHING at all to do with the fact that there is measurable differences in gut Flora.

              Nobody, certainly not the story linked, or Lancet, challenges that finding.

              The only part discredited is that vaccines caused the gut infections.

              Two TOTALLY different findings, totally unrelated except for the word Autism, which cause the short attention span crowd to assume its the same thing.

          • Science has a hard time with situations involving multiple variables; well, its a complexity problem not just of the experiments themselves but also the humans trying to grasp this stuff. There are limits and its not binary, there is some sort of curve involved as far as the human abilities aspect; the complexity of testing is in the realm of combinatorics and statistics.

            Mercury in vaccines may be harmless; however, we have higher levels of exposure from everywhere else so it just adds a little to what is t

            • by icebike (68054)

              Science has a hard time with situations involving multiple variables; well, its a complexity problem not just of the experiments themselves but also the humans trying to grasp this stuff. There are limits and its not binary, there is some sort of curve involved as far as the human abilities aspect; the complexity of testing is in the realm of combinatorics and statistics.

              Multivariate analysis has come a long way. Statistical tests can weed out non-important variables in reasonable sized samples. Its not that hard.

              If you've ever been involved in these sort of studies (even as subject) you know that the questions asked are exhaustive, often unrelated, and seemingly never ending.

              They all get into the computer, and evaluated after the results are in to determine if they were significant.

              Mercury in vaccines may be harmless; however,

              I don't like where you are going with this phraseology. Unless you subscribe to the theory

    • See, this is why junk science is so damaging-- one fraud can send many other researchers down dead ends for years trying to build on or replicate those results. There are scarce resources to devote to research and autism is a real thing that needs to be addressed and so much time and money has been pissed* away chasing fake leads. This directly affects my colleagues in my lab who, instead of advancing the state of the art, are stuck trying to undo Wakefield's bullshit. And my poor students who are going to

  • by overshoot (39700) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @12:57PM (#32469322)
    They took a bunch of samples and tested for correlation across the lot. They found some correlations -- which is exactly what they would find if everything was totally random, assuming you ran enough different comparisons.

    Validation comes when they take a bunch of blind samples in another set of test subjects and, using this test, try to determine whether the subjects are autistic -- without knowing in advance. If, and only if, that kind of test turns up positive, will it even be worth further study.

    • by coolgeek (140561)

      Well, maybe. But there is one snag. The only diagnostic we have available at this time for autism is casual observation. There is really no science behind a diagnosis of autism.

    • They took a bunch of samples and tested for correlation across the lot. They found some correlations -- which is exactly what they would find if everything was totally random, assuming you ran enough different comparisons.

      You, sir, are clearly autistic. Correlations, whatever you're talking about, just listen to the experts. They know what's right. Oh, right, you can't, because you're autistic, have to think for yourself and not go along with the herd. Sorry, we're all going to visit a cliff, sounds fun. W

  • So WHY do Children with autism have a difference in gut bacteria?

    Seems rather more important than just some minor trait you can take advantage of in a pee test.

  • by n6kuy (172098)

    This no my pee! [youtube.com]

  • If you took antibiotics, the first things you eat when it wears off, will rule your guts.

    Imagine the poor child who now thinks it has autism, just because it ate a bad thing at a bad time.
    Imagine the retarded parents and doctors, who will trust this test more, than they trust the actual facts. (If a doc says it, is must be true, right?

    I smell a lot of false positives and negatives.

    • by coolgeek (140561)

      Imagine the retarded parents and doctors, who will trust this test more, than they trust the actual facts. (If a doc says it, is must be true, right?

      I smell a lot of false positives and negatives.

      You are aware that the only diagnostic method for "autism" at this time is casual observation of a failure to develop or loss of language and/or social skills, aren't you? I fail to see where there are any "facts", other than these observed symptoms, that are present using our current diagnostic methods.

      • by winwar (114053)

        "I fail to see where there are any "facts", other than these observed symptoms, that are present using our current diagnostic method."

        And exactly what "facts" does the urine test provide? Exactly zero. Sure, it shows a correlation, but so what? What is the accuracy and specificity of the test? Almost certainly very poor. While an interesting idea for further research, actual use of this test would be a waste of resources.

        "You are aware that the only diagnostic method for "autism" at this time is casual

  • The problem with an objective test is that it's going to take away a lot of people's excuse for their behavior.

    • by winwar (114053)

      "The problem with an objective test is that it's going to take away a lot of people's excuse for their behavior."

      And you think a urine test would be an objective test why exactly? Seriously?

      There seems to be a common belief that a lab test is somehow more objective than using observational criteria. This would be very wrong. Many lab tests are very subjective. They may not have established values of normal, they may have ranges of normal and even then there are outliers. We routinely use tests that fai

  • There's a few things that sound a bit odd to my untrained eye.

    What do gut bacteria have to do with urine? Why wouldn't this be more related to diet, metabolism, liver function, or possibly even neurotransmitter levels?

    They used NMR spectroscopy to compare the urine samples. They weren't able to identify any specific chemical differences. I guess my question would be, how much does the NMR spectroscopy of urine vary between individuals? If I eat a lot of cheeseburgers, and my buddy is a vegetarian, is th

  • Ref Urinary Metabolic Phenotyping Differentiates Children with Autism from Their Unaffected Siblings and Age-Matched Controls Ivan K. S. Yap, Manya Angley, Kirill A. Veselkov, Elaine Holmes, John C. Lindon and Jeremy K. Nicholson J. Proteome Res., 2010, 9 (6), pp 2996-3004 Publication Date (Web): March 25, 2010 (Article) DOI: 10.1021/pr901188e this article is behind a paywall, but if you have access to Amer Chem Soc, you can go to figure one of the paper, and you will see that the signal to noise is pretty
  • Full Text (Score:3, Informative)

    by sharky611aol.com (682311) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:39PM (#32470396)
    Because government funded information belongs to the people (sorry, I'm too lazy to format it): Introduction Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) represent a series of related highly complex socio-psychological and neurodevelopmental problems with associated metabolic and gastrointestinal abnormalities of poorly defined etiology. ASD typically develop during the first 3 years of life and are characterized by a myriad of deficits in language/communication skills, social detachment as well as repetitive and stereotypic behaviors.(1, 2) The etiopathology of ASD is multifactorial and has been linked to genetic abnormalities(3, 4) and inborn errors of metabolism but there are many postulated, largely ill-defined, triggers including infectious agents and environmental toxins.(5) Autism has been shown to have strong associations with various metabolic abnormalities, immunological function and gastrointestinal disturbances, although their mechanistic significance is unknown.(5-8) In addition to the panel of neurodevelopmental problems associated with ASD, a range of gastrointestinal disorders have been reported, and recent studies have found that the condition is associated with abnormal gut microbiota.(9) There is also the possibility of previously unrecognized etiologic connections between microbiome disorder and childhood developmental problems, given the importance of the microbiome in mammalian metabolism, for example, bile acid metabolism.(10) Individuals with ASD are commonly exposed to repeated courses of multiple antibiotic therapies and this may contribute to the complex relationships between gastrointestinal dysbiosis and ASD by altering the composition or stability of their microbiota.(11-13) Abnormal sulfur metabolism has also been shown to typify individuals with ASD.(14) Waring et al. showed that individuals with autism have lower levels of plasma sulfate but considerably elevated levels of urinary sulfate, as compared to non-autistic individuals. These data suggest that autistic individuals may have impaired detoxification potential involving sulfation, as evidenced by their inability to sulfate the widely used drug acetaminophen.(14) The prevalence of autism has increased from 4 in 10000 children before 1980(2, 15) to 99 in 10000 in 2009 in the United Kingdom(15) and 53 in 10000 in 2006 in the United States(16) alone, but this varies regionally and with ethnicity, and also some geographically localized areas have much higher incidences of ASD.(17) However, it is not clear whether the global increase is due to higher prevalence of the disorder, and/or improved early detection/diagnosis. Current diagnosis of ASD is subjective and depends on observations of a cluster of behaviors and fulfillment of multiple criteria set out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition (DSM-IV-TR)(18) by a trained clinician. At present, there are no reliable biochemical- or genetic-screening tests for the disorder, and in some cases, particularly in late onset autism, childhood development can switch from being normal to showing a delay in acquisition of new skills, thus adding to the difficulty for diagnosing ASD. Thus, there is a pressing need for new diagnostic tools for ASD that are both sensitive and reliable, since early diagnosis can lead to timely interventions and optimized clinical management. Metabonomic approaches offer the possibility of measuring metabolic end points (metabolic profiles) that are determined by genetic and environmental factors.(19, 20) The application of high throughput metabolic profiling methods using high resolution analytical platforms (nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and/or mass spectrometry (MS)) with subsequent multivariate statistical analyses now provides a well-established strategy for differential metabolic pathway profiling and disease diagnosis.(10, 20-22) Here we apply a metabolic profiling approach to capture the global biochemical signature of autistic individuals using NMR spectroscopy with multivariate statistical modeling to characterize indiv

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