Etiologies of Autism in a Case-series from Tanzania

  • Raymond E. Mankoski
  • Martha Collins
  • Noah K. Ndosi
  • Ella H. Mgalla
  • Veronica V. Sarwatt
  • Susan E. Folstein
Original Paper


Most autism has a genetic cause although post-encephalitis cases are reported. In a case-series (N = 20) from Tanzania, 14 met research criteria for autism. Three (M:F = 1:2) had normal development to age 22, 35, and 42 months, with onset of autism upon recovery from severe malaria, attended by prolonged high fever, convulsions, and in one case prolonged loss of consciousness. In four other cases (M:F = 3:1), the temporal relationship between onset of autism and severe infection was close, but possibly spurious since malaria is common in Tanzania and there were indications of abnormal development in the child or a family member. In seven cases, (M:F = 6:1) autism onset was unrelated to malaria. The excess of non-verbal cases (N = 10) is related local diagnostic practice.


Autism Malaria Africa Infection 



We wish to gratefully acknowledge all of the participants, their families, and their friends for committing their efforts and energy to autism research. We also wish to thank the staff at the Msimbazi Mseto Primary School for their valuable assistance in coordinating this research project. We are grateful to Professor Japhet Minjas at the Muhimbili Medical Center for generously providing us with laboratory space and resources. We also wish to acknowledge the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology for permitting us to conduct this research in Dar es Salaam. Mr. Mankoski is supported by a grant from the National Alliance for Autism Research and by the Medical Scientist Training Program of the National Institutes of Health (USA). Dr. Folstein is supported (in part) by a grant from the National Alliance of Autism Research and by the National Institutes of Mental Health (USA).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raymond E. Mankoski
    • 1
  • Martha Collins
    • 2
  • Noah K. Ndosi
    • 3
  • Ella H. Mgalla
    • 4
  • Veronica V. Sarwatt
    • 5
  • Susan E. Folstein
    • 6
  1. 1.Tufts University School of Medicine and Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical SciencesBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryTufts-New England Medical CenterBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryMuhimbili University College of Health Sciences of the University of Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamTanzania
  4. 4.Autism UnitMsimbazi Mseto Primary SchoolDar es SalaamTanzania
  5. 5.Autism UnitMsimbazi Mseto Primary SchoolDar es SalaamTanzania
  6. 6.Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimore USA

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