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    Ethical dimensions of translational developmental neuroscience research in autism

    Manzini, A. and Jones, Emily J.H. and Charman, T. and Elsabbagh, Mayada and Johnson, Mark H. and Singh, I. (2021) Ethical dimensions of translational developmental neuroscience research in autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 62 (11), pp. 1363-1373. ISSN 0021-9630.

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    Background: Since the 1990s, increasing research has been devoted to the identification of biomarkers for autism to help attain more objective diagnosis; enable early prediction of prognosis; and guide individualised intervention options. Early studies focused on the identification of genetic variants associated with autism, but more recently, research has expanded to investigate neurodevelopmental markers. While ethicists have extensively discussed issues around advances in autism genomics, much less ethical scrutiny has focused on research on early neurodevelopment and on the interventions being developed as a result. Objectives: We summarise the current state of the science on the identification of early markers for autism and its potential clinical applications, before providing an overview of the ethical issues arising from increasing understanding of children’s neurodevelopment in very early life. Results: Advances in the understanding of brain and behavioural trajectories preceding later autism diagnosis raise ethical concerns around three themes: (1) New models for understanding autism; (2) Risks and benefits of early identification and intervention; and (3) Communication of early concerns to families. These ethical issues should be further investigated in research conducted in partnership with autistic people and their families. Conclusions: This paper highlights the need for ethical scrutiny of early neurodevelopmental research in autism. Scrutiny requires expertise and methods from the basic sciences and bioethics, as well as constructive collaborations among autistic people, their parents, and autism researchers to anticipate early interventions that serve the community’s interests and accommodate the varied experiences and preferences of people on the spectrum and their families.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the article, which has been published in final form at the link above. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): autism, biomarkers, genetics, neurodevelopment, infant siblings, ethics
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Emily Jones
    Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2021 09:20
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:10


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