A minority of cases of autism has been associated with several different organic conditions, including bioenergetic metabolism deficiency. In a population-based study, we screened associated medical conditions in a group of 120 children with autism (current age range 11y 5mo to 14y 4mo, mean age 12y 11mo [SD 9.6mo], male:female ratio 2.9:1). Children were diagnosed using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria, the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised, and the Childhood Autism Rating Scale; 76% were diagnosed with typical autism and 24% with atypical autism. Cognitive functional level was assessed with the Griffiths scale and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children and was in the normal range in 17%. Epilepsy was present in 19 patients. Plasma lactate levels were measured in 69 patients, and in 14 we found hyperlactacidemia. Five of 11 patients studied were classified with definite mitochondrial respiratory chain disorder, suggesting that this might be one of the most common disorders associated with autism (5 of 69; 7.2%) and warranting further investigation.
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