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new visualization of comorbidity


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Columbia University researchers have created a visualization of disease comorbidity using health records from 1.5 million people (article and full-text paper). There's a lot they'll be able to do with this - look for genetic links, look to see if some conditions protect from other conditions, look for potential environmental triggers like bacterial or viral infections.

This sounds awesome in general - people can process complex information about associations much faster when represented visually than when they see a bunch of numeric correlations. (Way to go, information usability!)

They find that bipolar, autism, and schizophrenia are associated (quotes from the paper):

We estimate that {approx}20
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They find that bipolar, autism, and schizophrenia are associated

This doesn't surprise me. I don't know any autistic kids or adults IRL without one parent who has bipolar, depression or other brain cooties.

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That man has giant orange fuzzy gloves on, and he expects us to take him seriously?

I read that once in a badly-written paper a while ago and dismissed it also. (The authors were like, "even if you don't see mood symptoms in schizophrenia, if you just look hard enough, you'll find them!")

I think I'd be inclined to interpret all of that (without further info) as "some of the same systems malfunction in bipolar as in schizophrenia" (as in autism, etc.). But yeah, it's probably all just wacky overlap among genes. And fuzzy clusters, etc. And you run into the tricky thing where what schizophrenia and bipolar "really are" is misrepresented by the discrete terms "schizophrenia" and "bipolar" - but would be equally misrepresented by a single term for both. There's a lot of variation within bipolar, anyway (I don't know enough about sz to say) and we sort of have bpI and bpII for them even though they may not actually be discrete things, just points on a continuum. Like Asperger's/autism is sometimes conceptualized. I don't think we had something like that for ADD (although I wish we did, if only so at least some people with ADD could play the "yes you moron it really is real and debilitating" card).

yes. ramble. ramble ramble. I'm so glad it's the end of the week.

I'm going to do a long, more coherent post/entry on that issue someday.

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