For the past 20 years as an epidemiologist and physician, Dr. Katusic has been leading an experienced, well integrated, multidisciplinary team of experts in the epidemiologic research of the child neurodevelopmental disorders (Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorders, Mental Retardation, Learning Disabilities-Dyslexia, Math LD, and Written LD).
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), current focus of our research, are lifelong neurodevelopmental conditions with mostly unknown etiology that have a huge impact on affected individuals and their families, and are a major public health concern as an emerging national health emergency.
Our rigorous epidemiologic studies are drawn upon multiple unique resources (medical records, public and private school records, detailed birth certificate information) with detailed routinely collected data available on every member of the population-based birth cohort of all children born (1976-2000) to mothers who were residents of Olmsted County at the time of birth of a child (N=30,989). Large population-based birth cohort studies have been extremely rare in ASD research.
Dr. Katusic's research has been funded by the National Institute of Health and a number of other funding agencies and organizations.
Understand the apparent increase in autism diagnoses. About one child in every 110 has autism or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism and ASD affect more boys than girls: one boy in every 54 will have the condition. In the last 40 years we have seen an apparent and dramatic rise in prevalence (frequency) rates. No one knows why with certainty.
Exploring and possible confirming some of the risk factors and possible causes of autism and ASD. Despite its increased prevalence and far-reaching effects, autism remains a little-understood neurodevelopmental condition with no known cure. We don't know what causes it or how it develops. Researchers hypothesize various models to explain the relationship between obstetric complications and autism and between environmental risk factors and genetics.
Elucidate adult cases of autism and ASD. Knowledge about adult outcomes (social/emotional functioning, academic achievements, quality of life) of children identified with autism spectrum disorders is almost nonexistent.
Address gaps in knowledge regarding cost utilization to inform future efforts toward improved treatment and cost-effective care. The estimates of total costs of care for all persons with autism amounts to more than $136 billion each year. The true cost to the affected children and their families is incalculable.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Katusic's research will help to gain knowledge of the natural history of autism, possible risk factors and outcomes in adulthood. Her work is critical to the understanding of prognostic factors, evaluating interventions, allocating health care resources and ultimately is important for improving the care of children and adults with ASD.