How to find the best cure for Down syndrome sloths?
Well, for now, you can’t.
But thanks to a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, you don’t have to look any further than your backyard for a solution.
Researchers say the study is proof that the most common diagnosis for children with Down syndrome is a “sloth disorder.”
“It’s really rare for any child to have Down syndrome, but it’s quite common for children to have an impairment of one of the main functions of their brain — their sensory function,” said lead researcher and assistant professor of pediatrics, Dr. Michelle DeMarco.
“That’s what’s causing these problems in children with autism spectrum disorder.”
The team found that in a small subset of the nearly 2,000 children diagnosed with Down Syndrome, a “sustained” impairment in sensory function (the absence of one or more of the brain’s sensory pathways) was associated with a “low rate of clinical remission” in the children’s autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
“It suggests that there’s a threshold for how long you need to go without a clinical remission,” said Dr. DeMarco, who also serves as the senior author of the study.
This is the first study to directly link a persistent sensory impairment with a reduction in a child’s autism severity.
The researchers also found that these children had a lower chance of being diagnosed with ASD when compared to children who didn’t have a persistent impairment in their sensory functions.
“If you’re having trouble with sensory function, it’s likely because you have some other problem, and then you’re going through that process of trying to overcome it,” DeMarco said.
“We don’t know exactly what’s the cause of this, but we do know that if a child has a sensory impairment that’s causing a lot of these problems, they’re going to have a lower rate of having clinical remission.”
The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, also found a significant difference in the rate of ASD diagnoses among the children who had a persistent impaired sensory function.
“It makes sense that having a sensory problem would be associated with higher rates of ASD diagnosis,” DeLucas said.
In addition, the researchers say they found that children who were diagnosed with a persistent ASD impairment were also more likely to be diagnosed with developmental delay, a developmental disorder that often affects children with ASD, and had lower scores on standardized testing.
“Our study demonstrates that a child with an ASD impairment is at risk of a very low rate of recovery from a clinical diagnosis, even though their impairment is not clear-cut,” said DeMarco in a statement.
“This is why it’s important to understand that a parent with an autism diagnosis is more likely than their non-autistic peers to have other underlying developmental problems and to have symptoms that would be expected to cause an ASD diagnosis in that child.”