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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
1,226 posts

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  • May 27, 2017
  • 03:59 AM
  • 34 views

Low dose suramin and autism: a small RCT with potentially big results

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Low dose' has been a feature of my autism research reading this week; first starting with the results from Dan Quintana and colleagues [1] talking about some important effects following intranasal delivery of low dose oxytocin and then moving on to the primary reason for this entry with results from Robert Naviaux and colleagues [2] (open-access) continuing a research theme looking at suramin and autism (see here for some background).For those interested in the oxytocin-autism research bas........ Read more »

Naviaux, R., Curtis, B., Li, K., Naviaux, J., Bright, A., Reiner, G., Westerfield, M., Goh, S., Alaynick, W., Wang, L.... (2017) Low-dose suramin in autism spectrum disorder: a small, phase I/II, randomized clinical trial. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. DOI: 10.1002/acn3.424  

  • May 26, 2017
  • 03:06 AM
  • 52 views

On ADHD medication and motor vehicle crashes

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Among patients with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder], rates of MVCs [motor vehicle crashes] were lower during periods when they received ADHD medication."That was the research bottom-line discussed by Zheng Chang and colleagues [1] who continue a theme on how managing/treating the symptoms of ADHD can often have some profound effects on those diagnosed with ADHD and also the wider population.The outcome measure on this occasion was MVCs; in particular: "E........ Read more »

  • May 25, 2017
  • 03:02 AM
  • 62 views

Blood heavy metal levels and autism (yet again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Data showed that the children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] had significantly (p < 0.001) higher levels of mercury and arsenic and a lower level of cadmium."And... "It is desirable to continue future research into the relationship between ASD and heavy metal exposure."Those sentences come from the study by Huamei Li and colleagues [1] continuing a research theme regarding (generally) elevated levels of heavy metals being detected in those on the autism spectrum (see here). Ye........ Read more »

  • May 24, 2017
  • 04:33 AM
  • 63 views

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as a risk factor for bipolar disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Only irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) emerged as a risk factor for BD [bipolar disorder] supported by convincing evidence."So said the results of the umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses by Beatrice Bortolato and colleagues [1] looking at the various environmental risk factors potentially linked to the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I might add that this is a topic that has been discussed before on this blog (see here and see here for examples).If the systematic ........ Read more »

  • May 23, 2017
  • 02:54 AM
  • 92 views

"there is no single way for a brain to be normal" (or how 'neurotypical' is a nonsense)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm not usually so forthright with my posts on this blog, but today I'm being a little more bullish as I talk about an editorial from Simon Baron-Cohen [1] titled: "Neurodiversity – a revolutionary concept for autism and psychiatry."The crux of the SBC paper is the suggestion that use of the term 'disorder' specifically with autism in mind might have certain connotations - "Disorder should be used when there is nothing positive about the condition" - and until the "biomedical mechanistic cause........ Read more »

  • May 22, 2017
  • 05:13 AM
  • 83 views

"a gluten-related subgroup of schizophrenia"?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin this post: "this preliminary study demonstrates that altered AGDA [antibodies against gliadin-derived antigen] levels in the circulation are associated with schizophrenia and could serve as biomarkers for the identification of a schizophrenia subgroup that may need an alternative therapy or precision treatment."So said the findings reported by McLean and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking at an area of some interest to this blog (see here) on how dietary gluten might........ Read more »

  • May 20, 2017
  • 06:12 AM
  • 104 views

Gastrin-releasing peptide and autism continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Yet another 'continued' or 'part 2' short post for you today, building on some previous - very preliminary research - talking about the use of gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) and autism (see here).The authors included on the paper by Josemar Marchezan and colleagues [1] are familiar ones to this part of the autism research landscape as per the other occasions that members of this group have looked at / talked about GRP and autism in the peer-reviewed domain.GRP is all about a compound that 'does........ Read more »

Marchezan, J., Becker, M., Schwartsmann, G., Ohlweiler, L., Roesler, R., Renck, L., Gonçalves, M., Ranzan, J., & Riesgo, R. (2017) A Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial of Gastrin-Releasing Peptide in Childhood Autism. Clinical Neuropharmacology, 1. DOI: 10.1097/WNF.0000000000000213  

  • May 19, 2017
  • 04:26 AM
  • 91 views

Injury risk and ADHD: part 2

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Consider this short post a sort of follow-on to a previous entry on this blog concerning the elevated risk of injury following a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The paper in question today is that by Wu-Chien Chien and colleagues [1] who yet again [2], brought the quite significant scientific weight of the "National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan" to bear on this topic.In this latest paper, Chien et al relied on data from a 'subset' of the main in........ Read more »

  • May 18, 2017
  • 04:40 AM
  • 104 views

On vaccinated and un-vaccinated homeschooled children: the disappearing-reappearing-disappearing-reappearing studies

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I originally began writing this post in the last week of November 2016 following first sight of the study abstract by Anthony Mawson and colleagues [1] and their journey into a topic that has had its fair share of discussion/argument* (*delete as appropriate) with autism in mind down the years: are vaccines or immunisation patterns potentially linked to [some] autism?As it happened, this post was shelved for some time because (a) only an abstract appeared despite a publication date accompan........ Read more »

Anthony R Mawson, Brian D Ray, Azad R Bhuiyan, & Binu Jacob. (2017) Pilot comparative study on the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated 6- to 12-year-old U.S. children. Journal of Translational Science. info:/10.15761/JTS.1000186

  • May 17, 2017
  • 02:48 AM
  • 78 views

EEG abnormalities and "high functioning" autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm not a great fan of the term 'functioning' when it comes to autism (see here) hence the quote marks around high-functioning in the title of this post. Yes, I understand the message that it's trying to convey and that we don't have viable alternatives at the moment. It just however seems a little sweeping in terms of 'generalised' describing and labelling of people...No mind. Today I'd like to bring the paper by Özdem Ertürk Çetin and colleagues [1] to your attention and the observatio........ Read more »

  • May 16, 2017
  • 05:02 AM
  • 97 views

IMFAR, the autism numbers game and 12% showing 'optimal outcome'

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A post recently published on the Spectrum website led to my blogging entry today, and the observation that: 'Alternative screen finds high autism prevalence in U.S. state'.Discussing results delivered at IMFAR 2017 the research in question was that presented by Laura Carpenter and colleagues [1] (someone with quite a track record in autism research). This was a conference presentation and seemingly not yet peer-reviewed publication, so one needs to be a little cautious about making big clai........ Read more »

Carpenter LA, Boan AD, Wahlquist AE, Cohen A, Charles J, Jenner W, & Bradley CC. (2016) Screening and direct assessment methodology to determine the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders. Annals of epidemiology, 26(6), 395-400. PMID: 27230493  

  • May 15, 2017
  • 04:33 AM
  • 123 views

Intestinal dysbiosis, irritable bowel syndrome and ME/CFS

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I don't want to spend too much time talking about yet another paper from the research tag-team that is Hornig & Lipkin [1] (open-access) on the topic of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). But this latest addition to their research repertoire (see here) is deserving of several comments.Not least are the observations made by the authors - including one Brent Williams who some might remember from autism research history (see here) and Jose Montoya who has als........ Read more »

Nagy-Szakal D, Williams BL, Mishra N, Che X, Lee B, Bateman L, Klimas NG, Komaroff AL, Levine S, Montoya JG.... (2017) Fecal metagenomic profiles in subgroups of patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. Microbiome, 5(1), 44. PMID: 28441964  

  • May 13, 2017
  • 04:42 AM
  • 161 views

Welcoming zonulin into autism research

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was VERY happy to read the paper published by Erman Esnafoglu and colleagues [1] suggesting that: "zonulin, which regulates intestinal permeability, plays a role in the development of symptoms of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Zonulin - something that "can be used as a biomarker of impaired gut barrier function for several autoimmune, neurodegenerative, and tumoral diseases" [2] - is a compound that I've been interested in for a while on this and other blogs (see here). The primary ........ Read more »

Esnafoglu, E., Cırrık, S., Ayyıldız, S., Erdil, A., Ertürk, E., Daglı, A., & Noyan, T. (2017) Increased Serum Zonulin Levels as an Intestinal Permeability Marker in Autistic Subjects. The Journal of Pediatrics. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.04.004  

  • May 12, 2017
  • 03:02 AM
  • 162 views

Physical exercise as a nootropic of choice

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Nootropic, defined as a 'smart drug' or cognitive enhancer, is generally taken to mean a substance/compound/medicine that has some positive effect(s) on aspects of cognition. I've talked about the possibility that various compounds might fit this bill on this blog (see here for example) but today I'm discussing another quite important potential nootropic: exercise.It was the paper by Joseph Michael Northery and colleagues [1] (open-access) that added exercise to the nootropic categoris........ Read more »

  • May 11, 2017
  • 03:08 AM
  • 164 views

Could an "ill-state" associated with anorexia nervosa mimic the symptoms of autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The question posed in the title of this post 'Could an "ill-state" associated with anorexia nervosa mimic the symptoms of autism?' stems from the findings reported by Heather Westwood and colleagues [1] (open-access).They continued a research theme looking at the potential 'overlap' when it comes to autism and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa (AN) (see here). Notably, researchers questioned whether the finding that some 50% of their cohort "scored above the clinical cut-off on the ........ Read more »

  • May 10, 2017
  • 02:35 AM
  • 161 views

Conviction for violence and autism: comorbidity counts

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I tread carefully when discussing the results published by Ragini Heeramun and colleagues [1] on the topic of "whether autism is associated with convictions for violent crimes" and "the associated risk and protective factors." Carefully because, as I've indicated on other occasions (see here), people commit crimes not labels, and sweeping generalisations about labels, specific types of crime and/or the concept of 'dangerousness' tend to do very little to help anyone in the long term.St........ Read more »

Heeramun, R., Magnusson, C., Gumpert, C., Granath, S., Lundberg, M., Dalman, C., & Rai, D. (2017) Autism and Convictions for Violent Crimes: Population-Based Cohort Study in Sweden. Journal of the American Academy of Child . DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2017.03.011  

  • May 9, 2017
  • 04:24 AM
  • 171 views

"Medical Conditions in the First Years of Life Associated with Future Diagnosis of ASD"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I rank the paper by Stacey Alexeeff and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) as being in the 'pretty important' category when it comes to hierarchy in autism research. Not only because of their use of data derived from Kaiser Permanente (KP) (quite a large US healthcare provider that has some autism research history) including some "3911 ASD [autism spectrum disorder] cases and 38,609 controls" but also because some of the findings reiterate what is already 'known' abo........ Read more »

Alexeeff SE, Yau V, Qian Y, Davignon M, Lynch F, Crawford P, Davis R, & Croen LA. (2017) Medical Conditions in the First Years of Life Associated with Future Diagnosis of ASD in Children. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 28434058  

  • May 8, 2017
  • 03:04 AM
  • 148 views

Vitamin D genes and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Vitamin D deficiency is a putative environmental risk factor for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)."And..."We provide straightforward genetic evidences for the first time that VDRGs [vitamin D-related genes] with a strong degree of DNM [de novo mutations] burden in ASD and DNMs of VDRGs could be involved in the mechanism underlying in ASD pathogenesis."That was the research bottom line reported on by Jinchen Li and colleagues [1] examining an important part of the whole 'vitami........ Read more »

Li J, Wang L, Yu P, Shi L, Zhang K, Sun ZS, & Xia K. (2017) Vitamin D-related genes are subjected to significant de novo mutation burdens in autism spectrum disorder. American journal of medical genetics. Part B, Neuropsychiatric genetics : the official publication of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics. PMID: 28407358  

  • May 6, 2017
  • 05:03 AM
  • 160 views

Congenital heart disease and autism and ADHD: Taiwan wades in

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The incidence rates of perinatal comorbidities, EDD [early developmental disorders], ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder], and ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were higher in the CHD [congenital heart disease] group than in the control group."So said the findings reported by Pei-Chen Tsao and colleagues [1] investigating an issue that has cropped up more than once on this blog in relation to the developmental/behavioural correlates possibly associated with........ Read more »

  • May 5, 2017
  • 02:55 AM
  • 176 views

Trends in ADHD medication use in the US and Europe: is this a bad thing?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I don't want to dwell too much on the findings reported by Christian Bachmann and colleagues [1] observing that in five Western countries - Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) - ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) medication use between 2005/2006-2012 was on the increase. But I do think it is important to mention some of the implications from such figures and some of the positives and negatives associated with such generated........ Read more »

Bachmann CJ, Wijlaars LP, Kalverdijk LJ, Burcu M, Glaeske G, Schuiling-Veninga CC, Hoffmann F, Aagaard L, & Zito JM. (2017) Trends in ADHD medication use in children and adolescents in five western countries, 2005-2012. European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. PMID: 28336088  

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