Paul Whiteley

1225 posts · 669,846 views

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

Questioning Answers
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  • January 6, 2017
  • 06:09 AM
  • 452 views

Particulate matter exposure and autism risk systematically reviewed?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"To conclude, the evidence from the studies allows us to conclude that there is an association between PM [particulate matter] exposure and ASD [autism spectrum disorder] whose strength varies according to the particle size studied with the association with PM2.5 and diesel PM being stronger."Although probably not great sentence structure to begin a post with a conclusion, the 'bottom line' reported by María Morales-Suárez-Varela and colleagues [1] summarises the curre........ Read more »

  • January 5, 2017
  • 06:07 AM
  • 491 views

A subtype of autism linked to psychosis?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Our data show there may be a specific subtype of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] linked to comorbid psychosis. The results support findings that psychosis in people with ASD is often atypical, particularly regarding affective disturbance."So said the findings reported by Felicity Larson and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) who bring an important topic into view that has recently been raised in the media too (see here). I appreciate that to talk about yet more comorbidity pot........ Read more »

Larson, F., Wagner, A., Jones, P., Tantam, D., Lai, M., Baron-Cohen, S., & Holland, A. (2016) Psychosis in autism: comparison of the features of both conditions in a dually affected cohort. The British Journal of Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.116.187682  

  • January 4, 2017
  • 05:43 AM
  • 474 views

A distinctive microbial signature in kids with autism and GI issues?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Our findings identify distinctive mucosal microbial signatures in ASD [autism spectrum disorder] children with FGID [functional gastrointestinal disorders] that correlate with cytokine and tryptophan homeostasis."So said the study results published by Ruth Ann Luna and colleagues [1] who "compared mucosa-associated microbial communities in children with ASD to previous reports characterizing stool in this population" among other things. If you are eating breakfast/lunch/dinner at........ Read more »

Luna, R., Oezguen, N., Balderas, M., Venkatachalam, A., Runge, J., Versalovic, J., Veenstra-VanderWeele, J., Anderson, G., Savidge, T., & Williams, K. (2016) Distinct microbiome-neuroimmune signatures correlate with functional abdominal pain in children with autism spectrum disorder. CMGH Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcmgh.2016.11.008  

  • January 3, 2017
  • 06:28 AM
  • 447 views

Suicidality in children and young adults with 'high-functioning' autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Consistent with the previous findings, [the] rate of suicidality is higher in individuals with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."That was one of the conclusions reported in the paper by Sevcan Karakoç Demirkaya and colleagues [1] (open-access) yet again touching on a most important topic when it comes to autism, particularly the part of the autism spectrum labelled as 'high-functioning'. Personally, I'm not a great fan of the 'functioning' description typically added to autism to ........ Read more »

  • December 27, 2016
  • 06:10 AM
  • 472 views

2016 autism research review on Questioning Answers

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Time flies! Once again, I'm posting my annual 'state of the science' autism research review, this time covering the particularly unusual year of 2016.With around 300 blog entries to choose from, I'm changing the format this year to list a 'top 5' of areas where I think some scientific progress has been made. The caveat as ever being that there are still mountains to climb in terms of delineating aetiology, nature and importantly, how one can actually improve quality of life for those on the........ Read more »

Waterhouse, L., London, E., & Gillberg, C. (2016) ASD Validity. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 3(4), 302-329. DOI: 10.1007/s40489-016-0085-x  

  • December 23, 2016
  • 05:03 AM
  • 487 views

ADHD symptoms and chronic fatigue syndrome?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

With the pinnacle of the season of 'jolly' almost upon us, I'd like to make some brief discussion on the findings reported by Denise Rogers and colleagues [1] and specifically the observation that: "ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] symptoms were significantly greater in the CFS [chronic fatigue syndrome] group than in HC [healthy controls]."With the aim of examining both the prevalence of fatigue in cases of ADHD and the prevalence of ADHD symptoms in adults wi........ Read more »

  • December 22, 2016
  • 03:31 AM
  • 487 views

Psychosis (sometimes) as an immune disorder?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Some psychosis cases an 'immune disorder'" went the BBC headline with reference to the paper by Belinda Lennox and colleagues [1] talking about the detection of antibodies against the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) in cases of first-episode psychosis (FEP).Although by no means a universal phenomenon, researchers reported that 3% of their 228 participants diagnosed with FEP who provided a blood sample showed the presence of NMDAR antibodies compared with none of the healthy controls ........ Read more »

  • December 21, 2016
  • 06:02 AM
  • 528 views

"New form of autism found"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"New form of autism found" went one of the headlines reporting on the paper by Dora C. Tărlungeanu and colleagues [1] and findings that "elucidate a neurological syndrome defined by SLC7A5 mutations and support an essential role for the BCAA [branched-chain amino acids] in human brain function." This work continues a rather important research story talking about how one 'type' of autism might have some important roots in relation to the branched-chain amino acids and their m........ Read more »

Tărlungeanu, D., Deliu, E., Dotter, C., Kara, M., Janiesch, P., Scalise, M., Galluccio, M., Tesulov, M., Morelli, E., Sonmez, F.... (2016) Impaired Amino Acid Transport at the Blood Brain Barrier Is a Cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Cell, 167(6), 1481-2147483647. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.11.013  

  • December 20, 2016
  • 04:33 AM
  • 508 views

Generation R does gestational vitamin D levels and autistic traits

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Gestational vitamin D deficiency was associated with autism-related traits in a large population-based sample. Because gestational vitamin D deficiency is readily preventable with safe, cheap and accessible supplements, this candidate risk factor warrants closer scrutiny."So said the findings reported by Vinkhuyzen and colleagues [1] (open-access) reporting on data derived from "the Generation R Study, a population-based prospective cohort from fetal life onward, based in Rotterdam, The Netherl........ Read more »

Vinkhuyzen AA, Eyles DW, Burne TH, Blanken LM, Kruithof CJ, Verhulst F, Jaddoe VW, Tiemeier H, & McGrath JJ. (2016) Gestational vitamin D deficiency and autism-related traits: the Generation R Study. Molecular psychiatry. PMID: 27895322  

  • December 19, 2016
  • 03:19 AM
  • 519 views

Gut barrier integrity meets blood-brain barrier integrity with autism in mind

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In the ASD [autism spectrum disorder] brain, there is an altered expression of genes associated with BBB [blood-brain barrier] integrity coupled with increased neuroinflammation and possibly impaired gut barrier integrity."Although pretty enthused to see research linking names like Anna Sapone, Tim Buie and Alessio Fasano in the recent paper published by Maria Fiorentino and colleagues [1] (open-access), I was slightly less impressed with the use of the term 'the ASD brain' ........ Read more »

Fiorentino, M., Sapone, A., Senger, S., Camhi, S., Kadzielski, S., Buie, T., Kelly, D., Cascella, N., & Fasano, A. (2016) Blood–brain barrier and intestinal epithelial barrier alterations in autism spectrum disorders. Molecular Autism, 7(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13229-016-0110-z  

  • December 17, 2016
  • 05:51 AM
  • 432 views

Pregnancy influenza infection not linked to offspring autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"There was no association between maternal influenza [flu] infection anytime during pregnancy and increased ASD [autism spectrum disorder] risk."So said the findings reported by Ousseny Zerbo and colleagues [1] continuing a research theme from this author (see here for example) looking at how various infections 'encountered' during critical periods of pregnancy may / may not impact on offspring autism risk. This time around the focus was on viral infections and in partic........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2016
  • 03:16 AM
  • 442 views

Non-febrile seizures in children with autism vs unaffected siblings

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with idiopathic ASD [autism spectrum disorder] are significantly more likely to have non-febrile seizures than their unaffected siblings, suggesting that non-febrile seizures may be ASD-specific."So said the findings from Lena McCue and colleagues [1] (open-access) continuing a research theme looking at one of the important 'comorbidities' that seems to be over-represented when it comes to a diagnosis of autism (see here). Idiopathic autism or ASD refers to autism as the........ Read more »

  • December 15, 2016
  • 02:59 AM
  • 500 views

ADHD, not autism, might count when it comes to 'comorbid psychiatric symptomatology'

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin this fairly brief post: "Our study concluded that higher levels of ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] severity-not ASD [autism spectrum disorder] severity-were associated with a higher prevalence of comorbid psychiatric symptomatology in school-age children with ASD. These findings may encourage clinicians to thoroughly assess ADHD symptomatology in ASD children to better inform treatment planning."That was the research bottom line reported by Ro........ Read more »

  • December 14, 2016
  • 03:07 AM
  • 477 views

Urinary metabolomics in autism turns up tryptophan (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The tryptophan metabolic pathway collectively displays the largest perturbations in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the findings reported by Federica Gevi and colleagues [1] (open-access) who provide yet more 'metabolomic' data when it comes to autism to add to the already quite voluminous peer-reviewed matter on this topic (see here for example).Just in case you aren't analytical chemistry-saavy, metabolomics is basically the study of the various chemical fingerprints that th........ Read more »

  • December 13, 2016
  • 04:25 AM
  • 453 views

'My child is not talking'. Online concerns and internet-based screening for autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Online communities are used as platforms by parents to verify developmental and health concerns related to their child."That was the starting point for the study results reported by Ben-Sasson & Yom-Tov [1] (open-access available here) who approached an increasingly important issue related to how the Internet and social media in particular, is fast becoming one of the 'go-to' options when it comes to parental concerns about their child's development and the question: could it be autism........ Read more »

  • December 12, 2016
  • 04:37 AM
  • 423 views

Maternal immune activation (MIA) and Old World monkeys

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Old World monkeys detailed in the title of this post, specifically refers to a type of animal called a rhesus macaque who were the 'participants' of choice as detailed in a recent study by Destanie Rose and colleagues [1] looking at a concept called maternal immune activation (MIA).Those who followed this blog down the years will no doubt have seen me discuss MIA before in the context of autism and/or schizophrenia (see here for example). The basic theory is that whilst in-utero a........ Read more »

  • December 10, 2016
  • 04:28 AM
  • 505 views

"Are we expecting too much from the extreme male brain theory of autism?"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The title of this post reflects the commentary published by Andrew Whitehouse [1] (open-access) discussing the meaning of the findings reported by Kung and colleagues [2] who quite categorically stated that there was: "No relationship between prenatal androgen exposure and autistic traits" in their study.OK, androgen exposure and psychology basically refers to the extreme male brain theory and autism which suggests that the so-called over-representation of autism in males is potentiall........ Read more »

  • December 9, 2016
  • 04:53 AM
  • 484 views

'Big data' Taiwan and schizophrenia risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Today I bring the findings reported by Chou and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) to the blogging table and how the research might of the Taiwan National Health Insurance Database (NHIRD) brought it's 'big data' ("n = 23 422 955") to bear on the question: what is the risk of developing schizophrenia where one or more first-degree or other relatives are affected?The answer: "Having an affected co-twin, first-degree relative, second-degree relative, or spouse was associate........ Read more »

  • December 8, 2016
  • 04:51 AM
  • 451 views

Prescription medication use and autism: good medicines management required

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Prescription drug use and polypharmacy rates among adults with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] are substantially higher than those in an age-, sex-, and race-matched cohort of adults without ASD."That sentence taken from the paper by Rini Vohra and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) is probably not likely to win any 'novel findings of the year' awards given the already quite voluminous data published on the medication use and autism (see here for example). What gives the ........ Read more »

  • December 7, 2016
  • 12:36 PM
  • 442 views

Pregnancy folic acid and offspring autism systematically reviewed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"A total of 22 original papers that examined the association between folic acid supplementation in human pregnancy and neurodevelopment/autism were identified after the screening, with 15 studies showing a beneficial effect of folic acid supplementation on neurodevelopment/autism, 6 studies showed no statistically significant difference, while one study showed a harmful effect in > 5 mg folic acid supplementation/day during pregnancy."That rather long quote taken from the paper published by Y........ Read more »

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