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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
570 posts

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  • April 18, 2015
  • 05:22 AM
  • 26 views

Autistic traits in adult-onset psychiatric disorders?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"To conclude, the presentation of ALTs [autistic-like traits/symptoms] at the sub-threshold or threshold level may be closely associated with BPD [bipolar disorder] and SZ [schizophrenia]."That was the conclusion reached in the paper by Junko Matsuo and colleagues [1] (open-access here) based on their analysis of nearly 300 adults aged between 25-59 years including those diagnosed with "MDD [major depressive disorder], n=125; bipolar disorder, n=56; schizophrenia,&n........ Read more »

Matsuo J, Kamio Y, Takahashi H, Ota M, Teraishi T, Hori H, Nagashima A, Takei R, Higuchi T, Motohashi N.... (2015) Autistic-Like Traits in Adult Patients with Mood Disorders and Schizophrenia. PloS one, 10(4). PMID: 25838109  

  • April 17, 2015
  • 03:52 AM
  • 43 views

Higher cancer mortality rates associated with mental illness

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Steve Kisely and colleagues [1] were of some interest recently and their assertion that despite cancer incidence being "the same as the general population for most psychiatric disorders" or even slightly reduced when a diagnosis of schizophrenia was for example received, mortality due to cancer was "increased in psychiatric patients."Such findings were based on their examination of: "Mental health records [that] were linked with cancer registrations and death r........ Read more »

  • April 16, 2015
  • 05:21 AM
  • 43 views

Paternal sperm epigenetic differences and offspring autism risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"These data suggest that epigenetic differences in paternal sperm may contribute to autism risk in offspring."So said the preliminary study results published by Jason Feinberg and colleagues [1]  (open-access) looking at "paternal semen biosamples obtained from an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) enriched-risk pregnancy cohort, the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) cohort." Researchers analysed 44 semen samples to ascertain whether DNA methylation differences - one typ........ Read more »

Jason I Feinberg, Kelly M Bakulski, Andrew E Jaffe, Rakel Tryggvadottir, Shannon C Brown, Lynn R Goldman, Lisa A Croen, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Craig J Newschaffer, M Daniele Fallin.... (2015) Paternal sperm DNA methylation associated with early signs of autism risk in an autism-enriched cohort. International Journal of Epidemiology. info:/10.1093/ije/dyv028

  • April 15, 2015
  • 03:31 AM
  • 35 views

Maternal diabetes and offspring autism risk... again

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In this large, multiethnic clinical cohort of singleton children born at 28 to 44 weeks’ gestation, exposure to maternal GDM [gestational diabetes mellitus] diagnosed by 26 weeks’ gestation was associated with risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] in offspring."That was the conclusion reached by Anny Xiang and colleagues [1] (open-access) following their analysis of some 3300 children diagnosed with ASD as part of a wider cohort of over 300,000 children "born in 19........ Read more »

Xiang, A., Wang, X., Martinez, M., Walthall, J., Curry, E., Page, K., Buchanan, T., Coleman, K., & Getahun, D. (2015) Association of Maternal Diabetes With Autism in Offspring. JAMA, 313(14), 1425. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2015.2707  

  • April 14, 2015
  • 04:08 AM
  • 46 views

Immune signature in ME/CFS detected in cerebrospinal fluid

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The research tag-team that is Mady Hornig and Ian Lipkin are fairly frequently mentioned on this blog. If it's not to do with their studies in autism research (see here for a recent mention) it is with their ground-breaking work looking at chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) in mind (see here for example).Indeed their latest paper [1] extends some recent findings (see here) on immune involvement in relation to CFS/ME [2] with a focus on examinations in cerebrospinal flu........ Read more »

  • April 13, 2015
  • 01:38 AM
  • 49 views

Interoception and body awareness in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Interoception: the sense of the physiological condition of the body" [1].This was an important concept detailed in the paper by Lisa Fiene and Charlotte Brownlow [2] with autism in mind. Looking at how adults diagnosed with an ASD (autism spectrum disorder) "interpret elements of the interoceptive sense, which includes thirst, hunger, temperature, satiety" researchers questioned those on the spectrum (n=74) and asymptomatic controls (n=228) with "self-reported perceptions of body awareness........ Read more »

  • April 10, 2015
  • 05:48 AM
  • 87 views

More ophthalmic findings in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Ophthalmic pathology was noted in 26.9 % of patients with ASD [autism spectrum disorder], of which 22 % had significant refractive errors and 8.6 % had strabismus."That was the conclusion reached in the paper by Emrah Utku Kabatas and colleagues [1] based on the premise that: "Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) frequently have ophthalmologic disorders"; that is, issues with the anatomy and function of the eyes.We've been here before. I'll take you back to the post that I wr........ Read more »

Kabatas EU, Ozer PA, Ertugrul GT, Kurtul BE, Bodur S, & Alan BE. (2015) Initial Ophthalmic Findings in Turkish Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 25800865  

  • April 9, 2015
  • 03:31 AM
  • 83 views

Effects of prenatal organophosphate pesticide exposure on a mouse model of autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Pesticides and autism is a topic previously covered on this blog (see here for example). The idea that some of the various preparations that we use to control the pests which have an ability to blight our crops or cause serious health issues could be linked to an increased risk of autism is an area likely to invoke some divisions within elements of the autism and wider scientific community.Part of the problem with the available evidence suggesting a link between autism and pesticide exposure is ........ Read more »

  • April 8, 2015
  • 01:34 AM
  • 85 views

Cleanrooms and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Scott Faber and colleagues [1] (open-access) is the topic of today's post and the idea that a cleanroom sleeping environment might impact on some important issues accompanying at least some autism.Just in case you hadn't come across the concept of a cleanroom, the concept is that a space is provided where various systems are put in place to control environmental pollutants such as dust, microbes and various chemical emissions. More readily associated with the construction of microch........ Read more »

  • April 7, 2015
  • 02:45 AM
  • 97 views

Candida albicans triggering coeliac disease?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Will the bafflement around coeliac (celiac) disease ever stop?I want you to cast your eye over the paper from Marion Corouge and colleagues [1] (open-access) and the interesting hypothesis that: "CI [Candida albicans infection] may trigger CeD [coeliac disease] onset in genetically-susceptible individuals."Continuing a theme of 'bafflement' when it comes to the autoimmune condition known as coeliac disease (see here), Corouge et al reported that a protein, ........ Read more »

Corouge M, Loridant S, Fradin C, Salleron J, Damiens S, Moragues MD, Souplet V, Jouault T, Robert R, Dubucquoi S.... (2015) Humoral Immunity Links Candida albicans Infection and Celiac Disease. PloS one, 10(3). PMID: 25793717  

  • April 6, 2015
  • 04:18 AM
  • 115 views

Assisted Reproductive Technology conception and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I noticed recently that the paper by Christine Fountain and colleagues [1] reporting that "incidence of diagnosed autism was twice as high for ART [assisted reproductive technology] as non-ART births" has been making some media headlines.Based on an analysis of an impressive participant number "using linked records from the California Birth Master Files for 1997 through 2007, the California Department of Developmental Services autism caseload for 1997 through 2011, and the Centers for ........ Read more »

  • April 4, 2015
  • 04:55 AM
  • 114 views

No evidence for efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids on [autism] core symptom domains

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

To quote from the study by Deepali Mankad and colleagues [1] (open-access): "This study does not support high dose supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids in young children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Only yesterday I was discussing the results from Bos and colleagues [2] (see here) and the idea that inattention might be a target behaviour for supplementation with PUFAs [polyunsaturated fatty acids] with (and without) ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] in mind. The........ Read more »

Mankad, D., Dupuis, A., Smile, S., Roberts, W., Brian, J., Lui, T., Genore, L., Zaghloul, D., Iaboni, A., Marcon, P.... (2015) A randomized, placebo controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of young children with autism. Molecular Autism, 6(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13229-015-0010-7  

  • April 3, 2015
  • 04:29 AM
  • 126 views

Improving inattention in boys with and without ADHD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The [truncated] PubMed listing of the abstract by Dienke Bos and colleagues [1] does little justice to the results reported by this group looking at the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on the behaviour of boys both diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and those who are described as 'typically developing'.Luckily the paper is open-access (see here) and one can get a true flavour of what happened to this cohort of boys with and without a diagnosis of AD........ Read more »

Bos DJ, Oranje B, Veerhoek ES, Van Diepen RM, Weusten JM, Demmelmair H, Koletzko B, de Sain-van der Velden MG, Eilander A, Hoeksma M.... (2015) Reduced symptoms of inattention after Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in boys with and without Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. PMID: 25790022  

  • April 2, 2015
  • 03:12 AM
  • 103 views

Physical activity and sleep in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Sleep issues are not an uncommon feature for quite a few people on the autism spectrum (see here).Autism research has provided some pretty strong evidence to support that last sentence and how sleep, or a lack of it in terms of quality and/or quantity, might not be optimal for people on the autism spectrum (as it isn't for those not on the spectrum).The hows and whys of sleep affecting the behavioural presentation of autism are still a little in the air outside of what is known more generally ab........ Read more »

  • April 1, 2015
  • 05:37 AM
  • 112 views

Gulf War agents and delayed onset of symptoms in mice

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was recently intrigued by the findings reported by Zuchra Zakirova and colleagues [1] (open-access) on what happened to mice following 'acute' exposure to pyridostigmine bromide (PB) and the pesticide permethrin (PER) in the context of these compounds being "key contributors to the etiology of GWI [Gulf War Illness] post deployment to the Persian GW [Gulf War]."I've covered the topic of Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) before on this blog (see here) and how, foll........ Read more »

  • March 31, 2015
  • 04:35 AM
  • 97 views

Is anhedonia a key component of depression comorbid to autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Anhedonia: the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable.Although by no means an expert on anhedonia (or much else), I believe that it is a concept quite important when it comes to making a diagnosis of depression although the precise hows and whys of connecting anhedonia to other symptoms are still the source of some discussion [1].The paper from Vicki Bitsika & Christopher Sharpley [2] brings the concepts of anhedonia and depression into v........ Read more »

  • March 30, 2015
  • 03:20 AM
  • 103 views

Asthma and ADHD (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Asthmatic children had a higher risk of also having ADHD."That was the conclusion reached by Kirsten Holmberg and colleagues [1] based on their analysis of rates of ADHD, and other variables found "through the Swedish Twin Register, linked to the Swedish Medical Birth Register, the National Patient Register and the Prescribed Drug Register." Said data came from over 20,000 twins who's parents were questioned when children were aged 9 or 12 years.For those unfamiliar with the proposed conne........ Read more »

  • March 29, 2015
  • 04:39 AM
  • 111 views

Sera from children with autism inducing autistic features in rats?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The autism sera injected rats demonstrated developmental delay and deficits in social communication, interaction, and novelty."That was one of the findings reported in the paper by Syed Faraz Kazim and colleagues [1] (open-access) who, among other things, injected intracerebroventricularly sera collected from children with autism into newborn rats and examined behavioural effects compared with injections of sera from asymptomatic controls. Actually, that was only one part of the resea........ Read more »

  • March 28, 2015
  • 04:27 AM
  • 117 views

Screening for autism in preterm infants

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"A positive screen on the M-CHAT [Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers] occurs more commonly in very preterm infants than those born at term."So said the study by Peter Gray and colleagues [1] as the topic of preterm status - that is, babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy - potentially being linked to a greater risk of autism or at least, increased risk of screening positive for autism, crops up yet again on this blog (see here).Gray et al examined a cohort of children bo........ Read more »

  • March 27, 2015
  • 06:02 AM
  • 115 views

Inflammation impairs social cognitive processing

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "acute inflammation can lead to decreases in the ability to accurately and reliably comprehend emotional information from others."It comes from the article published by Mona Moieni and colleagues [1] who examined a concept familiar to many people with a connection to autism either personally or professionally: Theory of Mind (ToM). Rather interestingly, Moieni et al "examined whether exposure to an experimental inflammatory challenge led to changes in ToM." Inflammato........ Read more »

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