Fevers Offer Clues to Autism

Studies show symptoms recede when kids have high temperatures
By Michael O'Connor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 4, 2007 4:50 PM CST
Raymond Fox, 5, of Stow, Ohio, is one of about 50 children who have been brought to the Autism Center at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron, Ohio, since it opened last year.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – Fevers may alleviate symptoms of autism, including repetitive movements, irritability, and hyperactivity, a recent study shows. The findings confirm what parents have long observed, fueling the hypothesis that heat affects neurotransmitters in the brain that are somehow involved in autism. The research could lead to clues to a cure for the disease, ABC News reports.

"The first thing we would suspect would be substances that circulate in the blood when we have a fever, called cytokines," said one researcher. "It's also possible that cell membranes or cell receptors function differently when they are hotter." If researchers can pinpoint how fever alleviates symptoms, they could work to develop a drug that affects the brain the same way.