Paul Whiteley

894 posts · 388,944 views

Autism research, research blogging and health science stuff (picture is accurate)

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  • April 30, 2016
  • 02:45 AM
  • 27 views

The 'anti-neuroinflammatory activity' of oxytocin

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Whilst the package inserts of the various drugs that modern medicine has at its disposal provides important information on potential mode of action, there is a growing realisation that drugs generally have quite a few more molecular targets than are perhaps listed. Take for example the quite commonly used (in some parts of the world anyway) compound called melatonin  that in some instances can provide almost miraculous relief when it comes to sleeping issues under certain circumstances. A d........ Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 02:33 AM
  • 41 views

Organophosphate exposure and ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with higher urinary DMP [dimethylphosphate] concentrations may have a twofold to threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."So said the results presented in the paper by Yu and colleagues [1] who looking at "97 doctor-diagnosed ADHD cases and 110 non-ADHD controls who were 4-15 years of age" examined urine and blood samples for various factors including "biomarkers of OP [organophosphate] pesticide exposure." Th........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 65 views

What parents of children with autism expect from their child's therapists

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Parents ultimately wanted therapists to produce positive outcomes for their children and were willing to sacrifice other desired qualities, as long as the therapy program was effective."and"The SLPs [Speech-Language Pathologists] expressed strong support for evidence-based practice (EBP) and indicated that they thought parents expected their children would be provided with evidence-based interventions."Those quotes come from two papers recently published in the same journal; the first........ Read more »

  • April 27, 2016
  • 03:07 AM
  • 80 views

The A Word: the science behind...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The A WordI'm not typically inclined to talk about TV programmes on this blog (well, not usually) but today I'm making an exception based on the conclusion of the BBC drama series 'The A Word' last evening.For those who might not know, this [fictional] series charts the ups and downs of a family living in the Lake District whose lives are in one way or another touched by autism as a function of a 5-year old boy diagnosed with the condition. The show had a notable addition to the cast with a very........ Read more »

  • April 26, 2016
  • 03:10 AM
  • 81 views

Bacterial origin and transferability of depression?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Zheng and colleagues [1] caught my eye recently and the interesting ideas that "dysbiosis of the gut microbiome may have a causal role in the development of depressive-like behaviors" and "transplantation of GF [germ-free] mice with ‘depression microbiota’ derived from MDD [major depressive disorder] patients resulted in depression-like behaviors compared with colonization with ‘healthy microbiota’ derived from healthy control individuals."Bearing in........ Read more »

  • April 25, 2016
  • 02:15 AM
  • 101 views

Parenting a child with autism or ADHD: what the science says...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm talking about parenting again today. Two papers are served up for your reading interest today, providing an important 'science-based' perspective on the general experience of parenting a child who is also diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).The first paper by Britt Laugesen and colleagues [1] "aimed to identify and synthesize the best available evidence on parenting experiences of living with a child with attention-deficit hyper........ Read more »

Laugesen B, Lauritsen MB, Jørgensen R, Sørensen EE, Rasmussen P, & Grønkjær M. (2016) Living with a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review. International journal of evidence-based healthcare. PMID: 27058250  

Khan, T., Ooi, K., Ong, Y., & Jacob, S. (2016) A meta-synthesis on parenting a child with autism. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 745. DOI: 10.2147/NDT.S100634  

  • April 23, 2016
  • 03:12 AM
  • 124 views

Parents on the autism spectrum and 'parenting efficacy'

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

There are some aspects of the autism research landscape that make for uncomfortable reading. I've covered a few of them on this blog (see here and see here for example) simply because of my belief that science should not be afraid to ask about and try and answer difficult questions.I'd place the paper by Winnie Yu Pow Lau and colleagues [1] in that uncomfortable reading zone as a consequence of their findings related to parenting efficacy as a function of parents who themselves have been di........ Read more »

Lau, W., Peterson, C., Attwood, T., Garnett, M., & Kelly, A. (2016) Parents on the autism continuum: Links with parenting efficacy. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 57-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2016.02.007  

  • April 21, 2016
  • 11:23 PM
  • 132 views

Developmental regression in autism affects screening results

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In today's short post I'd like to bring the findings reported by Lotta Höglund Carlsson and colleagues [1] to your attention and a reminder that developmental regression accompanying autism onset is an important feature for quite a few people.With the aim of looking at the "national, routine 18-month developmental surveillance at Child Healthcare Centres (CHC) on children later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)" in Stockholm County, Sweden, authors reported on the results of sa........ Read more »

Höglund Carlsson, L., Westerlund, J., Barnevik Olsson, M., Eriksson, M., Hedvall, �., Gillberg, C., & Fernell, E. (2016) Autism spectrum disorders before diagnosis: results from routine developmental surveillance at 18 months. Acta Paediatrica. DOI: 10.1111/apa.13418  

  • April 21, 2016
  • 02:23 AM
  • 141 views

The inter-pregnancy interval and risk of autism reviewed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Short IPIs [interpregnancy intervals] are associated with a significantly increased risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]. Long IPIs also appear to increase the risk of ASD.So said the results of the systematic review undertaken by Agustín Conde-Agudelo and colleagues [1] into how birth spacing might impact on the risk of a child developing an ASD. Drawing on data from 7 studies that "reported an association between short IPIs and increased risk of ASD" including over 1.1 ........ Read more »

  • April 20, 2016
  • 02:30 AM
  • 133 views

Talking therapies impacting on the epigenetics of panic disorder?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The psychologist Oliver James has made some waves recently, coinciding with the publication of his new book, with the suggestion that nurture might be 'outdoing' nature when it comes to various concepts from intelligence to mental health. At times the recent 'debates' in this area have not been pretty as arguments about 'what the science actually says' with regards to [structural] genetics vs. environment have tended to get a little heated, and the word 'blame' being ban........ Read more »

Ziegler C, Richter J, Mahr M, Gajewska A, Schiele MA, Gehrmann A, Schmidt B, Lesch KP, Lang T, Helbig-Lang S.... (2016) MAOA gene hypomethylation in panic disorder-reversibility of an epigenetic risk pattern by psychotherapy. Translational psychiatry. PMID: 27045843  

  • April 19, 2016
  • 02:13 AM
  • 126 views

Bumetanide for schizophrenia? A case report

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Bumetanide - a medicine known as a diuretic - has appeared before on this blog (see here for example) in relation to some preliminary suggestions that at least some types of autism might be sensitive to intervention using this particular compound [1]. The names Lemonnier (Eric) & Ben-Ari (Yehezkel) are a big part of the research group interested in bumetanide and its use outside of more traditional indications; particularly, the focus on its action on NKCC1 onwards to an effect on ........ Read more »

Lemonnier E, Lazartigues A, & Ben-Ari Y. (2016) Treating Schizophrenia With the Diuretic Bumetanide: A Case Report. Clinical neuropharmacology, 39(2), 115-117. PMID: 26966887  

  • April 18, 2016
  • 02:23 AM
  • 129 views

'Autism genes' are not just 'genes for autism'

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Ya Wen and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) caught my attention recently with the suggestion that: "ASD [autism spectrum disorder]-associated genes may contribute not only to core features of ASD themselves but also to vulnerability to other chronic and systemic problems potentially including cancer, metabolic conditions and heart diseases." Further: "ASDs may thus arise, or emerge, from underlying vulnerabilities related to pleiotropic genes associated wit........ Read more »

  • April 16, 2016
  • 05:20 AM
  • 167 views

Long terms effects of communication by gesture and autism: a case report

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

As per previous entries on this blog, I'm not at all adverse to the idea that case reports (the so-called N=1) can offer some important insights into a heterogeneous (dare I say 'plural') condition like autism. Today, I'm once again heading down this route as I bring to your attention the letter from Webster and colleagues [1] talking about a 40 year follow-up note "About a Boy with Autism Taught to Communicate by Gestures when Aged Six."Harking back to a paper published by some of the authors i........ Read more »

  • April 15, 2016
  • 05:01 AM
  • 176 views

The transgenerational effects of prenatal immune activation?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Ulrike Weber-Stadlbauer and colleagues [1] provides some food for thought today with the suggestion that the concept of prenatal immune activation might have consequences further than just to exposed offspring.For those not familiar with the concept of prenatal immune activation, it refers to the process(es) that occur following "exposure to infectious or inflammatory insults" during the nine months that made us. As you'll probably be aware, our nine months of watery 'captivity' is ........ Read more »

  • April 14, 2016
  • 03:45 PM
  • 178 views

#Breadgate and nutritional psychiatry

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The review paper by Paola Bressan & Peter Kramer [1] (open-access) titled: 'Bread and Other Edible Agents of Mental Disease' has been getting a few people a little hot under the collar recently. With it's own Twitter hashtag #breadgate it looks like the idea that certain foods might have something of a bearing on "human behaviour and mental health" has not been received particularly well. I might add that this not the first time that such ideas have been entertained (see here)........ Read more »

Bressan P, & Kramer P. (2016) Bread and Other Edible Agents of Mental Disease. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 130. PMID: 27065833  

  • April 14, 2016
  • 02:51 AM
  • 162 views

Risk of type 2 diabetes in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Adolescents and young adults with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were more likely to develop type 2 DM [type 2 diabetes mellitus] during the follow-up. In addition, those with ASD using atypical antipsychotics exhibited a high risk. Therefore, further research is necessary to investigate the common pathophysiology of ASD and type 2 DM."So said the findings reported by Mu-Hong Chen and colleagues [1] as, yet again, Taiwan and their very useful National Health Insurance R........ Read more »

  • April 13, 2016
  • 03:25 AM
  • 154 views

Vitamin D deficiency and psychosis

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In amongst my various ramblings about how vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin/hormone - might show more than a few connections to conditions/labels outside of just the English disease (see here), I've covered some science on a possible connection with psychosis (see here) and schizophrenia (see here). There are still gaps in terms of the hows and whys of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency when it comes to this area of psychiatry, but I believe there is enough science in this area to initially w........ Read more »

Lally, J., Gardner-Sood, P., Firdosi, M., Iyegbe, C., Stubbs, B., Greenwood, K., Murray, R., Smith, S., Howes, O., & Gaughran, F. (2016) Clinical correlates of vitamin D deficiency in established psychosis. BMC Psychiatry, 16(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12888-016-0780-2  

  • April 12, 2016
  • 02:51 AM
  • 139 views

Evidence of blurring on the autism spectrum edges

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "multiple types of genetic risk for ASDs [autism spectrum disorders] influence a continuum of behavioral and developmental traits, the severe tail of which can result in diagnosis with an ASD or other neuropsychiatric disorder."That was the bottom line of the findings reported by Elise Robinson and colleagues [1] looking at data from "several large ASD consortium and population-based resources" (N~38,000) including the fabulous resource that is ALSPAC. Specifically an........ Read more »

Robinson EB, St Pourcain B, Anttila V, Kosmicki JA, Bulik-Sullivan B, Grove J, Maller J, Samocha KE, Sanders SJ, Ripke S.... (2016) Genetic risk for autism spectrum disorders and neuropsychiatric variation in the general population. Nature genetics. PMID: 26998691  

  • April 11, 2016
  • 02:19 AM
  • 136 views

Levels of paranoia are higher in autism: systematic review

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Paranoia, defined as the unfounded or exaggerated idea that something or someone is deliberately trying to psychologically, physically or financially harm you, is not an uncommon transient sentiment among the general population at one time or another. On a more pathological level, paranoid schizophrenia perhaps represents the archetypal label where paranoia assumes an altogether more persistent and 'life-changing' effect; also potentially escalating into more extreme behaviour/s.The idea th........ Read more »

  • April 9, 2016
  • 03:59 AM
  • 178 views

Is empathising rather than systemising linked to maths achievement?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Contrary to our hypothesis, we found no relationship between systemizing and math achievement after controlling for domain general abilities and no relationship between the systemizing brain type (greater discrepancy between systemizing and empathizing) and math achievement."That quote taken from the study published by Emily Escovar and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) provides some blogging fodder today. Based on some ideas proposed in autism research circles that "mathematics ........ Read more »

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