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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
1,199 posts

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  • August 7, 2016
  • 11:53 AM
  • 503 views

The (surprising) rate of ADHD in Taiwan

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The idea that use of the diagnostic label called attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is on the increase, and pretty significantly so, is quite common-place these days (see here). Appreciating that not everyone is convinced that the increase is necessarily genuine (see here) I would like to discuss some interesting data coming out of the 'big data' country that is Taiwan in the form of the findings reported by Wang and colleagues [1].As regular readers might already know, Taiwan is th........ Read more »

  • August 5, 2016
  • 02:59 AM
  • 507 views

Hospitalisation for mania following antibiotic exposure?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Individuals hospitalized with acute mania have a markedly increased rate of bacterial infections, as evidenced by the recent prescription of antimicrobial agents. The prevention and effective treatment of bacterial infections may be important interventions for the management of individuals with mania."That was the research bottom-line reported by Robert Yolken and colleagues [1] (yes, that Robert Yolken) who continued a theme of how immune function/response might be something pretty important w........ Read more »

Yolken R, Adamos M, Katsafanas E, Khushalani S, Origoni A, Savage C, Schweinfurth L, Stallings C, Sweeney K, & Dickerson F. (2016) Individuals hospitalized with acute mania have increased exposure to antimicrobial medications. Bipolar disorders. PMID: 27425597  

  • August 4, 2016
  • 03:11 AM
  • 524 views

Take your vitamin D says the UK Government

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Vitamin D supplements 'advised for everyone'" was just one media headline following the publication of a report (see here) - "a government commissioned report" - by the advisory board of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) here in Blighty recently.After oodles and oodles of peer-reviewed research (quite a bit of it covered in that SACN report) potentially linking issues with vitamin D availability to everything from depression (see here) to schizophrenia (see here) a........ Read more »

Muscogiuri G, Altieri B, Annweiler C, Balercia G, Pal HB, Boucher BJ, Cannell JJ, Foresta C, Grübler MR, Kotsa K.... (2016) Vitamin D and chronic diseases: the current state of the art. Archives of toxicology. PMID: 27425218  

  • August 3, 2016
  • 03:57 AM
  • 492 views

Omega-3 fatty acids, gut bacteria and mouse behaviour

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I read with great interest the paper by Ruairi Robertson and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) recently, talking about how "neurobehavioural changes induced by altering n-3 PUFA [omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids] status are closely associated with comprehensive alterations in gut microbiota composition, HPA-axis activity and inflammation" in mice.Coming out of the 'bacterial research powerhouse' that is University College Cork, such research potentially unites some im........ Read more »

  • August 1, 2016
  • 10:43 PM
  • 499 views

Autism, urinary porphyrins and mercury

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I appreciate that the title of this post is probably going to result in an immediate 'click away' for some folk but for those who've endured it I'd like to talk briefly about the findings reported by Eman Khaled and colleagues [1]. Namely the observation that: "ASD [autism spectrum disorder] children in the present study had increased blood Hg [mercury] and Pb [lead] levels compared with healthy control children indicating that disordered porphyrin metabolism might ........ Read more »

  • August 1, 2016
  • 04:10 AM
  • 460 views

Physical activity in children and youth: themes and consensus

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Physical activity boosts kids' brain power and academic prowess' went the press release accompanying the consensus statement published by Jens Bangsbo and colleagues [1] (open-access).The consensus statement brought together researchers from around the world "and from a variety of academic disciplines" to emphasise how undertaking all-manner of different kinds of exercise "are still a good investment in academic achievement" when it comes to children aged between 6-18 years of age.The stat........ Read more »

Bangsbo J, Krustrup P, Duda J, Hillman C, Andersen LB, Weiss M, Williams CA, Lintunen T, Green K, Hansen PR.... (2016) The Copenhagen Consensus Conference 2016: children, youth, and physical activity in schools and during leisure time. British journal of sports medicine. PMID: 27354718  

  • July 30, 2016
  • 03:32 AM
  • 570 views

More scientific flesh on the bones of non-coeliac gluten/wheat sensitivity

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was really, really pleased to read the paper by Melanie Uhde and colleagues [1] (open-access) I don't mind telling you. Covering a topic close to my blogging and research heart - sensitivity to wheat or gluten but not coeliac disease - the authors provide some much needed scientific clarification when it comes to how gluten or wheat might impact on some of those "who reported symptoms in response to wheat intake and in whom coeliac disease and wheat allergy were ruled out." Some media int........ Read more »

  • July 29, 2016
  • 04:20 AM
  • 566 views

Pregnancy multivitamins 'are a waste of money' (except when they're not)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Science headlines eh? Who would trust them and their sometimes inflated press releases?I start today with a science headline taken from the BBC website reading: "Pregnancy multivitamins 'are a waste of money'" based on the findings of a review article [1] published in the journal Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin.In it we are told that complex multi-vitamin and mineral supplements are 'unlikely to be needed and are an unnecessary expense' during the nine months that made us. Further that certain vi........ Read more »

Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin. (2016) Vitamin supplementation in pregnancy. Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin. DOI: 10.1136/dtb.2016.7.0414  

  • July 28, 2016
  • 03:49 AM
  • 513 views

Autism in adults in the UK continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Traolach Brugha and colleagues [1] makes for some blogging fodder today and the suggestion that: "The combined prevalence of autism in adults of all ages in England was 11/1000."Just before going through the Brugha paper it is perhaps appropriate to put it into some context based on other work from this group previously covered on this blog (see here) and the findings again by Brugha and colleagues [2] (a further report on their findings that time around can be seen h........ Read more »

Brugha TS, Spiers N, Bankart J, Cooper SA, McManus S, Scott FJ, Smith J, & Tyrer F. (2016) Epidemiology of autism in adults across age groups and ability levels. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science. PMID: 27388569  

  • July 27, 2016
  • 03:44 AM
  • 501 views

Blood glutamate levels in autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The meta-analysis provided evidence for higher blood glutamate levels in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."That was the research bottom-line reported by Zhen Zheng and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) who surveyed the current peer-reviewed science literature in this area and found something to see based on: "Twelve studies involving 880 participants and 446 incident cases."Drawing on the idea that glutamate is a rather important amino acid that plays a role in various biological p........ Read more »

  • July 26, 2016
  • 03:41 AM
  • 483 views

Probiotics degrading gluten peptides - part 2

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I going to assume that readers have some background knowledge about probiotics, gut bacteria, bacterial dysbiosis and coeliac disease before reading this post. I'd love to be able to give detailed descriptions of each here but fear that this would turn a short post into a much longer one...So... in a previous post titled: 'Probiotics degrading gluten peptides?' I covered the potentially important suggestion that certain types of bacteria might have the ability to breakdown (degrade) immunog........ Read more »

  • July 25, 2016
  • 03:37 AM
  • 506 views

Risk of cancer in mums of children with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I very carefully approach the findings reported by Jennifer Fairthorne and colleagues [1] today detailing "the occurrence of hospital admissions and treatment/services for cancer in mothers of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] with or without ID [intellectual disability] compared with other mothers." Appreciating that families touched by autism probably have enough on their plate without additional talk about the 'big C', I do however think that this kind of r........ Read more »

  • July 23, 2016
  • 04:17 AM
  • 611 views

On probiotics and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Granted, I am taking a slight departure from the material typically discussed on this blog by introducing the paper by Yan Zhang and colleagues [1] who reported the findings of a meta-analysis examining "the efficacy of different probiotic types, doses and treatment durations in IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] patients diagnosed by Rome III criteria via a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs)." The results however - "Probiotics are an effective pharmacological t........ Read more »

  • July 22, 2016
  • 03:01 AM
  • 483 views

Surgery for "chronic idiopathic constipation" and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I can't profess to be an expert on the techniques called sigmoidectomy and appendicostomy so won't even try and pretend that I am. From what I gather from Dr Google, the latter is a surgical technique generally performed to "help deliver enemas more easily" to relieve constipation, whilst the former involves the surgical removal of some or all of the sigmoid colon. Both are only generally indicated when traditional methods of treating constipation for example, fail.The reason I'm briefly ta........ Read more »

De La Torre L, Cogley K, Calisto J, Nace G, & Correa C. (2016) Primary sigmoidectomy and appendicostomy for chronic idiopathic constipation. Pediatric surgery international. PMID: 27372298  

  • July 21, 2016
  • 02:59 AM
  • 522 views

Sensory processing issues are present throughout the autism spectrum

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I want to make an initial point about the paper by Corentin Gonthier and colleagues [1] and their research findings titled: 'Sensory Processing in Low-Functioning Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Distinct Sensory Profiles and Their Relationships with Behavioral Dysfunction', I'm not a great fan of the use of the term 'functioning' when it comes to autism. Yes, I know what message it's trying to convey in terms of 'severity' of autism and/or accompanying learning (intellectual) disabili........ Read more »

  • July 20, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 494 views

Autism 'disclosure cards' and negative judgements?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I have to say that I initially felt slightly uncomfortable reading the study results published by Jillian Austin and colleagues [1] providing "preliminary validation for the use of autism disclosure cards in buffering negative judgment." Uncomfortable because, despite the fact that it is human nature for people to stop, stare and perhaps question something when it seems 'out of the ordinary', the idea that when children with autism specifically 'misbehave' in a public place their parents need to........ Read more »

  • July 19, 2016
  • 02:51 AM
  • 482 views

1 in 3 people with CFS might benefit from methylphenidate?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm cautious about the findings reported by Daniel Blockmans & Philippe Persoons [1] talking about how long-term use of the stimulant medication methylphenidate (MPH) might be something to consider for at least some people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Cautious because the sole use of a questionnaire looking "for possible improvement of concentration difficulties and fatigue" following the use of MPH on this research occasion is not exactly a top tier scientific method...Non........ Read more »

  • July 18, 2016
  • 02:45 AM
  • 471 views

Reconsidering the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) for autism screening?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "The AQ's [Autism Spectrum Quotient] utility for screening referrals was limited in this sample. Recommendations supporting the AQ's role in the assessment of adult ASD [autism spectrum disorder], e.g. UK NICE guidelines, may need to be reconsidered."Taken from the paper published by Ashwood and colleagues [1], the findings from this team don't make for great reading if you happen to be a fan of the AQ as a potential screening instrument for adult autism. Indeed,........ Read more »

Ashwood KL, Gillan N, Horder J, Hayward H, Woodhouse E, McEwen FS, Findon J, Eklund H, Spain D, Wilson CE.... (2016) Predicting the diagnosis of autism in adults using the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) questionnaire. Psychological medicine, 1-10. PMID: 27353452  

  • July 16, 2016
  • 06:48 AM
  • 439 views

Increased microbial translocation in ME/CFS

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The cause of ME/CFS [myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome] is unknown, but gut dysbiosis could be contributing to some of the symptoms and their severity. Developing therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing local inflammation, restoring gastrointestinal tract immunity and integrity and modifying the intestinal microbiome may ameliorate ME/CFS symptoms in a number of affected patients."Those were the important conclusions reported by Ludovic Giloteaux and colleagues [1........ Read more »

  • July 15, 2016
  • 02:54 AM
  • 489 views

Another study to watch... vitamin D and/or fatty acid supplements for autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Hot on the heels of a recent post about a study to watch for (see here) details of yet another "randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial" have been published in the form of the trial protocol by Hajar Mazahery and colleagues [1].This time around the aim is to "investigate the effect of vitamin D, n-3 LCPUFAs [omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids] or a combination of both on core symptoms of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]" and hopefully with it, the generat........ Read more »

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