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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
1,171 posts

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  • March 23, 2017
  • 04:02 AM
  • 38 views

Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and autism continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I wanted to briefly talk about the paper by Francesca Garofoli and colleagues [1] on congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and autism not because it contains any novel data (see here), but because it reminds us that the potential 'pathways' to a diagnosis of autism are multiple and not necessarily 'pre-programmed' as per the 'it's all genetic' arguments that frequently figure in various domains.Congenital CMV infection refers to the transmission of CMV - "a common virus that belongs to the ........ Read more »

  • March 22, 2017
  • 04:08 AM
  • 44 views

On genotype and environmental exposure patterns

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was rather interested to read the paper by Michela Traglia and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) concluding that: "maternal and fetal genetic make-up are important determinants of mid-gestational maternal circulating levels of some environmental organohalogens." Interested because, in these days of gene-environment interactions being applied to just about everything, the detail that is missing - which genes might potentially be linked to which environmental factors - has not yet........ Read more »

  • March 21, 2017
  • 03:57 AM
  • 64 views

PACE trial recovery data and chronic fatigue syndrome - a reply

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'd encourage readers interested in the background to the response paper by Michael Sharpe and colleagues [1] to have a look at a previous blogging occasion when the topic of the PACE trial, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and 'recovery' were discussed (see here).Suffice to say that this latest paper is a reply to one published by Carolyn Wilshire and colleagues [2] who concluded that: "The claim that patients [with CFS] can recover as a result of CBT [cognitive behaviour therapy] ........ Read more »

M Sharpe, T Chalder, AL Johnson, KA Goldsmith, & PD White. (2017) Do more people recover from chronic fatigue syndrome with cognitive behaviour therapy or graded exercise therapy than with other treatments?. Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health , 1-5. info:/10.1080/21641846.2017.1288629

  • March 20, 2017
  • 04:13 AM
  • 80 views

ALSPAC says no to cat ownership - psychosis risk hypothesis but...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"While pregnant women should continue to avoid handling soiled cat litter, given possible T. gondii exposure, our study strongly indicates that cat ownership in pregnancy or early childhood does not confer an increased risk of later adolescent PEs [psychotic experiences]."So said the findings reported by Francesca Solmi and colleagues [1] (open-access) who brought a smile to any reader of the title of their paper: "Curiosity killed the cat: no evidence of an association between cat ownershi........ Read more »

  • March 18, 2017
  • 04:58 AM
  • 96 views

HSV-2 gestational infection and offspring autism risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In our cohort, high levels of antibodies to herpes simplex virus 2 at midpregnancy were associated with an elevated risk of autism spectrum disorder in male offspring. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that gestational infection may contribute to the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder and have the potential to drive new efforts to monitor women more closely for cryptic gestational infection and to implement suppressive therapy during pregnancy."That was the conclusion reac........ Read more »

Milada Mahic, Siri Mjaaland, Hege Marie Bøvelstad, Nina Gunnes, Ezra Susser, Michaeline Bresnahan, Anne-Siri Øyen, Bruce Levin, Xiaoyu Che, Deborah Hirtz.... (2017) Maternal Immunoreactivity to Herpes Simplex Virus 2 and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Male Offspring. mSphere. info:/10.1128/mSphere.00016-17

  • March 17, 2017
  • 03:39 AM
  • 98 views

Fatty acids and autism meta-analysed yet again (with a different result?)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

OK I'm a little confused right now.Not so long ago I talked about the paper from Horvath and colleagues [1] (see here) concluding that "the limited data currently available suggest that ω-3 FA [omega-3 fatty acid] supplementation does not enhance the performance of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]." Such a conclusion was based on the application of a systematic review and meta-analysis of the available peer-reviewed literature up to August 2016.Now however, another sy........ Read more »

  • March 16, 2017
  • 03:44 AM
  • 139 views

Autoimmune disease(s) and ADHD: birds of a feather?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"A personal history and a maternal history of autoimmune disease were associated with an increased risk of ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]. The previously reported association between type 1 diabetes and ADHD was confirmed. In addition, specific parental autoimmune diseases were associated with ADHD in offspring."So said the study results published by Nielsen and colleagues [1] including "a study population of 983,680 individuals followed from 1995 to 2012." Reliant once aga........ Read more »

  • March 15, 2017
  • 04:08 AM
  • 120 views

The extra-intestinal effects of coeliac disease autoimmunity?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In 3.5-year-old children, CDA [coeliac disease autoimmunity] is associated with increased reports of child depression and anxiety, aggressive behavior, and sleep problems when mothers are unaware of their child’s CDA status."So said the findings reported by Laura Smith and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) adding to an emerging body of peer-reviewed research suggesting that the archetypal 'gluten is the baddie' autoimmune condition known as coeliac disease might, when not manag........ Read more »

Smith LB, Lynch KF, Kurppa K, Koletzko S, Krischer J, Liu E, Johnson SB, Agardh D, & TEDDY study group. (2017) Psychological Manifestations of Celiac Disease Autoimmunity in Young Children. Pediatrics. PMID: 28219962  

  • March 14, 2017
  • 03:56 AM
  • 126 views

Depression in parents of children with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Mothers (OR 2.95, 95% CI 2.81-3.09) and fathers (OR 2.41, 95% CI 2.25-2.58) of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were more likely to have a diagnosis of depression than parents of children without ASD."The paper by Cohrs and Leslie [1] is probably not going to win any awards for novelty when it comes to their findings that: "Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in children can have secondary effects on the child's parents." It does however represent another important piece of evidence........ Read more »

  • March 13, 2017
  • 03:29 AM
  • 139 views

Mitochondria support for mitochondrial activity in [some] autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This study examined the effect of common mitochondrial treatments on specific mitochondrial components in a group of children diagnosed with ASD [autism spectrum disorder], some of which also were diagnosed with co-morbid mitochondrial disease."That was the premise of the study results published by Leanna Delhey and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) and follows previous discussions suggesting that mitochondrial disease might not be totally unfamiliar to at least some autism ........ Read more »

Delhey LM, Nur Kilinc E, Yin L, Slattery JC, Tippett ML, Rose S, Bennuri SC, Kahler SG, Damle S, Legido A.... (2017) The Effect of Mitochondrial Supplements on Mitochondrial Activity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of clinical medicine, 6(2). PMID: 28208802  

  • March 11, 2017
  • 04:19 AM
  • 157 views

B vitamins for schizophrenia?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'd like to briefly draw your attention to the results - systematic review and meta-analysis results - published by Joseph Firth and colleagues [1] observing that "certain vitamin and mineral supplements may reduce psychiatric symptoms in some people with schizophrenia" and specifically that certain B vitamins might be something to consider.Such results come from a research team who are making significant waves in the field of meta-analyses and systematic reviews for all manner of different [imp........ Read more »

  • March 10, 2017
  • 02:37 AM
  • 139 views

I would walk 500 miles... or maybe just 8 miles (a day).

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Desk-bound workers should ‘walk EIGHT miles a day’ to slash risk of heart attacks or stroke" went one headline talking about the findings reported by William Tigbe and colleagues [1]. Drawing on data from over 110 postal workers - "(55 office-workers, 5 women, and 56 walking/delivery-workers, 10 women)" - who wore "activPAL physical activity monitors for seven days", researchers observed some potentially important trends.Alongside wearing their activity monitors, participants were also asse........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2017
  • 03:06 AM
  • 157 views

"Relatives of individuals with ASD were at higher risk of ADHD"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Individuals with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and their relatives are at increased risk of ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."So said the paper published by Laura Ghirardi and colleagues [1] (open-access) who studied "1 899 654 individuals born in Sweden between 1987 and 2006" and identified some 28,000 cases of ASD and 82,000 cases of ADHD "with 13 793 individuals... being comorbid cases."Results: "Individuals with ASD were at higher risk of having ADHD, co........ Read more »

Ghirardi L, Brikell I, Kuja-Halkola R, Freitag CM, Franke B, Asherson P, Lichtenstein P, & Larsson H. (2017) The familial co-aggregation of ASD and ADHD: a register-based cohort study. Molecular psychiatry. PMID: 28242872  

  • March 8, 2017
  • 03:09 AM
  • 130 views

Blocking FRAAs and thyroid function in autism (continued)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Readers of this post are advised to check out a previous blogging occasion describing how 'FRAAs - folate receptor alpha autoantibodies - may correlate with reduced thyroid function in cases of autism' before heading into this entry on the recent paper published by Richard Frye and colleagues [1].You're back already? OK, well just in case you didn't read that last entry (😉), it's worthwhile first noting that: "Folate receptor α (FRα) autoantibodies (FRAAs) are prevalent in autism spectrum d........ Read more »

  • March 7, 2017
  • 04:23 AM
  • 161 views

Herbal medicines 'for' ADHD systematically reviewed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Dennis Anheyer and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) is offered up for your reading consumption today, and the results of a review of the available published science - "Only randomized controlled trails (RCT)" (authors' spelling mistake not mine) - looking at the use of herbal medicines for the treatment/management of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).OK I know some people read the term 'herbal medicine' and automatically think 'woo'. If I instead use th........ Read more »

  • March 6, 2017
  • 04:25 AM
  • 160 views

"Logical fallacies in animal model research"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A paper which is a bit 'out of left field' is presented for your reading pleasure today and how one should be rather careful about how animal research - "with focus on animal models of mental illness" - is translated into relevance to humans [1].The paper by Espen Sjoberg is pertinent to various diagnostic labels including depression and schizophrenia. I would perhaps disagree with the author including autism under the specific heading of 'mental illness' (bearing in mind various mental hea........ Read more »

Sjoberg EA. (2017) Logical fallacies in animal model research. Behavioral and Brain Functions. info:/10.1186/s12993-017-0121-8

  • March 4, 2017
  • 04:43 AM
  • 150 views

Fatigue in adults with a 22q11.2 deletion syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The genetic condition called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) has, on occasion, provided some research fodder for this blog (see here and see here). The reason for its inclusion here has tended to be around the 'overlap' in the presentation of 22q11.2 and autism/autistic features and the importance of appropriate screening as and when an autism diagnosis is received (see here). Remember: receipt of an autism diagnosis is a starting point not the finishing line.Today I'm once again talk........ Read more »

Vergaelen E, Claes S, Kempke S, & Swillen A. (2017) High prevalence of fatigue in adults with a 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. American journal of medical genetics. Part A. PMID: 28190295  

  • March 3, 2017
  • 02:56 AM
  • 149 views

Poverty status and autism, ADHD and asthma

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Christian Pulcini and colleagues [1] talking about poverty status potentially influencing "parent-reported lifetime prevalence and comorbidities" when it comes to three target conditions (autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] and asthma) should have been a call to action. Concluding that "poor and near poor children had a higher lifetime prevalence of asthma and ADHD, but not ASD [autism spectrum disorder]" [2], some of the findings have instead attracted crit........ Read more »

Pulcini CD, Zima BT, Kelleher KJ, & Houtrow AJ. (2017) Poverty and Trends in Three Common Chronic Disorders. Pediatrics. PMID: 28193790  

  • March 2, 2017
  • 03:11 AM
  • 160 views

Subgroups in autism (without intellectual disability)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] without ID [intellectual disability] could be differentiated into Moderate and Severe Social Impairment subgroups when core ASD symptoms were more closely examined."So said the findings reported by Felicity Klopper and colleagues [1] looking at an important part of the autism research scene related to the 'plurality' of the term autism and the seemingly vast range of presentations included under the label. Reliant on data obtained........ Read more »

Felicity Klopper, Renee Testa, Christos Pantelis, & Efstratios Skafidas. (2017) A cluster analysis exploration of autism spectrum disorder subgroups in children without intellectual disability. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. info:/10.1016/j.rasd.2017.01.006

  • March 1, 2017
  • 03:13 AM
  • 156 views

Sex and age might affect comorbidity profiles in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Supekar and colleagues [1] provides some food for thought today specifically with the idea that comorbidity profiles accompanying autism might be influenced by age and gender in mind.To quote: "These results highlight crucial differences between cross-sectional comorbidity patterns and their interactions with sex and age, which may aid in the development of effective sex- and age-specific diagnostic/treatment strategies for ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and comorbid condi........ Read more »

Supekar K, Iyer T, & Menon V. (2017) The influence of sex and age on prevalence rates of comorbid conditions in autism. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 28188687  

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