Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Sad Controversy Over a Misleading Autism Test

The test is based on Kliman’s research, which has focused in part on “tiny structures in the placenta called trophoblastic inclusions … [which] form when cells divide too quickly and cause the placenta to fold in on itself, instead of bulging outward as it normally does.” In one of these studies, placentas from siblings of children with autism had more of these folds than placentas from a control group. In the other, aforementioned one, “Kliman found that 39 percent of 13 preserved placentas from children with autism had the inclusions compared with 13 percent of 61 placentas from controls.”
All of which makes it look like there’s some sort of important correlation between these folds and autism. Except: In other research, including some of Kliman’s own, the folds have been associated with other conditions. Their presence or absence, in other words, might not tell us very much about the odds a kid will develop ASD, and at the moment there are fairly solid reasons to believe it doesn’t. Moreover, there have been zeropublished trials actually correlating the results of this specific test with future ASD diagnoses.