Autism News

Disruptive CHD8 Mutations Define a Subtype of Autism Early in Development

Source: 
Cell
Date Published: 
July 7, 2014
Abstract: 

A variation in the CHD8 gene has a strong likelihood of leading to a type of autism accompanied by digestive problems, a larger head and wide-set eyes, a study in Cell reports. This discovery is part of an emerging approach to studying the underlying mechanisms of autism and what those mean for people with the condition. Many research teams are trying to group subtypes of autism based on genetic profiles. This is the first time researchers have shown a definitive cause of autism from a genetic mutation.

Motor Deficits Match Autism Severity

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
June 20, 2014
Abstract: 

The severity of core autism symptoms in young children goes hand in hand with the degree of the children’s difficulty with motor tasks, according to a study published in the April issue of the Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly. Early interventions, such as therapies that target social and communicative behavior, may alter autism’s course. Building strong motor skills may help children with autism develop better social and communicative skills, especially in physically demanding play, the researchers say.

For Flagging Autism Risk, Using Two Tests is Best Option

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
June 20, 2014
Abstract: 

The average child with autism is 18 months old before his or her parents first begin to be concerned. Given the importance of early intervention, it’s crucial that parents and doctors both catch on to the symptoms as soon as possible. A study published in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds that two autism screens are better than one at identifying toddlers who need specialized clinical services. These screens, such as the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) and the Early Screening of Autistic Traits (ESAT), are used not to diagnose autism, but rather to identify children who need more specialized attention — for example, from a child psychiatrist or a behavioral therapist.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides

Source: 
University of California-Davis
Date Published: 
June 23, 2014
Abstract: 

A study out of the University of California Davis found that women who live near farmland where pesticides are applied are 60 percent more likely to give birth to a child with autism or other developmental delays. In the study, the association was stronger for women exposed during their second or third trimester. The study looked at three categories of pesticides: organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates; all three were found to have associations with ASD or other developmental delays.

Evidence of Reproductive Stoppage in Families With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Source: 
JAMA Psychiatry
Date Published: 
June 18, 2014
Abstract: 

Research published in JAMA Psychiatry shows that parents who have a child with autism are about a third less likely to choose to continue having children compared to parents who do not have a child with ASD. In the study, this "reproductive stoppage" did not occur until the child started showing symptoms or received a diagnosis of ASD. This led researchers to conclude that it was a conscious decision to stop having children, rather than another factor such as fertility problems.

Reversal of Autism-Like Behaviors and Metabolism in Adult Mice with Single-Dose Antipurinergic Therapy

Source: 
Translational Psychiatry
Date Published: 
June 17, 2014
Abstract: 

Researchers at UC San Diego have discovered that suramin, a drug that was originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, reverses autism-like social behaviors in mice. This study proposes that the social difficulties and metabolism issues found in individuals with ASD could be improved with the use of suramin — even in adults. While suramin has not been tested in humans, these findings could direct future research for autism therapies.

Should We Believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism Spectrum Disorder Prevalence Estimates?

Source: 
Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice
Date Published: 
July 2014
Abstract: 

Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice has published an important and interesting new editorial by Dr. David Mandell and Dr. Luc Lecavalier that challenges the methods the CDC uses to collect and publish autism prevalence data, now at 1 in 68.

Costs of Autism Spectrum Disorders in the United Kingdom and the United States

Source: 
JAMA Pediatrics
Date Published: 
June 9, 2014
Abstract: 

Having an accurate estimate of the economic cost of autism has many implications for service and system planning. The most recent estimates are almost a decade old and had to rely on many estimates for which there were no good data. Today in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers, including ASF Scientific Advisory Board member Dr. David Mandell, updated older estimates and further expanded our understanding of costs by estimating them for two countries: the United States and the United Kingdom. They also estimated costs separately for children and adults, and for individuals with autism with and without intellectual disability. To estimate costs, researchers reviewed the literature on related studies, conducting a thorough search of studies that estimated direct costs, such as education and service use costs, as well as indirect costs, such as lost wages for family members and the individual with autism. They found that for individuals with autism and intellectual disability, the average lifetime cost was $2.4 million in the US and $2.2 million in the UK. For individuals without intellectual disability, the average cost was $1.4 million in both the US and the UK. For children with autism, the largest costs were for special education and parents’ lost wages. For adults with autism, the largest costs were residential care and lost wages.

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Large Study Underscores Role of Gene Copy Number in Autism

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
June 2, 2014
Abstract: 

People with autism tend to carry mutations that duplicate or delete several genes at once, according to a large study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Previous studies have shown that people with autism have more large deletions or duplications of DNA, also known as copy number variations (CNVs), than controls do. The new study, the largest to look at CNVs in people with autism thus far, confirms this finding. It also found that in people with autism, the CNVs are more likely to affect genes linked to intellectual disability and fragile X syndrome.

Elevated Fetal Steroidogenic Activity in Autism

Source: 
Molecular Psychiatry
Date Published: 
June 3, 2014
Abstract: 

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have found that children who later develop autism are exposed to heightened levels of steroid hormones (such as testosterone, progesterone and cortisol) in the womb. This finding may be related to the fact that autism affects males more than females.