November 2009  << Back  

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Autism spectrum disorders: Rising prevalence drives research on causes and cures

Sanjay Gupta, MD

Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA

Clinical Professor Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Buffalo, NY, USA

Associate Director of Geriatric Psychiatry, BryLin Hospitals, Buffalo, NY, USA

Daniel A. Rossignol, MD, FAAFP

International Child Development Resource Center, Melbourne, FL, USA

This special issue of Annals of Clinical Psychiatry features original research and review articles on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as a continuation of our August issue. A recent survey reports a higher prevalence of ASD in the United States—1.1% or 1 in 91 children age 3 to 17—than previously estimated.1 The survey also reports that nearly 40% of children who had been diagnosed with ASD did not currently have the condition. These results reinforce the importance of early recognition and effective interventions for children with ASD.

In this issue, a retrospective study from Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA, and colleagues looks at cases in which children have recovered from ASD using Applied Behavior Analysis, suggesting that early intensive intervention can help a subset of patients. K. L. Reichelt, MD, PhD, and A. M. Knivsberg, PhD, explore a possible link between increased dietary peptides and behavior and development of ASD—a so-called “gut-to-brain connection.” Daniel A. Rossignol, MD, FAAFP—who has extensive clinical experience in treating ASD patients—presents a comprehensive review of novel and emerging treatments for ASD. Pramila Srinivasan, PhD, examines dietary interventions—including gluten- and casein-free diets—that have shown evidence of improving ASD symptoms.

Treatments for ASD are evolving, and as a result, almost all are considered off-label, alternative, or complementary. Some are undergoing formal evaluation in research trials; however, many families will try these treatments before the results are released because they may feel that time is running out for their children. Psychiatric clinicians should be aware of this pattern and, when taking a history, ask parents about use of these off-label treatments.

We hope the information on ASD in these special issues of Annals ultimately benefits patient care.


  1. Kogan MD, Blumberg SJ, Schieve LA, et al. Prevalence of parent-reported diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder among children in the US, 2007. Pediatrics. 2009;124:doi:10.1542/peds.2009-1522.

CORRESPONDENCE: Sanjay Gupta, MD, 230 Bewley Building, Lockport, NY 14094 E-MAIL: