Screening

Boys With Autism May Grow Faster as Babies

Source: 
US News HealthDay
Date Published: 
October 7, 2011
Abstract: 

Boys with autism tend to grow faster as babies, with differences from typically developing infants seen in their head size, height and weight, a new study says. Researchers said the findings may offer new clues about the underlying mechanisms of autism. A larger head size probably means the children also have a larger brain.

US researchers' discovery promises answers on autism

Source: 
The Australian
Date Published: 
September 8, 2011
Abstract: 

Researchers have for the first time identified two biologically different strains of autism in a major breakthrough being compared with the discovery of different forms of cancer in the 1960s. The findings, to be announced at an international autism conference in Perth today, are seen as a key step towards understanding the causes of autism and developing effective treatments as well as a cure. The findings bring hope that the communication, socialization and other difficulties that autistic children experience can be tackled more easily and earlier.

Distinct features of autistic brain revealed in novel Stanford/Packard analysis of MRI scans

Source: 
Stanford University
Date Published: 
September 2, 2011
Abstract: 

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital have used a novel method for analyzing brain-scan data to distinguish children with autism from typically developing children. Their discovery reveals that the gray matter in a network of brain regions known to affect social communication and self-related thoughts has a distinct organization in people with autism.

Prevalence and Correlates of Autism in a State Psychiatric Hospital

Source: 
Left Brain - Right Brian
Date Published: 
August 24, 2011
Abstract: 

This study estimated the ASD prevalence in a psychiatric hospital and evaluated the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) combined with other information for differential diagnosis. Chart review, SRS and clinical interviews were collected for 141 patients at one hospital. Diagnosis was determined at case conference. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to evaluate the SRS as a screening instrument. Chi-squared Automatic Interaction Detector (CHAID) analysis estimated the role of other variables, in combination with the SRS, in separating cases and non-cases. Ten percent of the sample had ASD. More than other patients, their onset was prior to 12 years of age, they had gait problems and intellectual disability, and were less likely to have a history of criminal involvement or substance abuse. Sensitivity (0.86) and specificity (0.60) of the SRS were maximized at a score of 84. Adding age of onset <12 years and cigarette use among those with SRS <80 increased sensitivity to 1.00 without lowering specificity. Adding a history substance abuse among those with SRS >80 increased specificity to 0.90 but dropped sensitivity to 0.79. Undiagnosed ASD may be common in psychiatric hospitals. The SRS, combined with other information, may discriminate well between ASD and other disorders.

Residential Proximity to Freeways and Autism in the CHARGE Study

Source: 
Environ Health Perspect, Volke et al.
Date Published: 
June 2011
Year Published: 
2011

Researchers at the University of Southern California examined the association between autism and proximity of residence to freeways and major roadways during pregnancy and near the time of delivery, as a surrogate for air pollution exposure. Using the mother’s address recorded on the birth certificate and trimester-specific addresses derived from a residential history, measures of distance to freeways and major roads were calculated and logistic regression models compared residential proximity to freeways and major roads for autism cases and typically developing controls. The researchers concluded that living near a freeway was associated with autism, and examination of associations with measured air pollutants is needed.

Most Adults with Autism Go Undiagnosed - New Findings, UK

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
May 4, 2011
Abstract: 

Dr Brugha, who is also a consultant psychiatrist working in the NHS with the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said none of the cases with autism found in the community survey throughout England knew that they were autistic or had received an official diagnosis of autism or asperger syndrome.

Children Conceived in Winter have a Greater Risk of Autism, Study Finds

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
May 5, 2011
Abstract: 

An examination of the birth records of the more than 7 million children born in the state of California during the 1990s and early 2000s has found a clear link between the month in which a child is conceived and the risk of that child later receiving a diagnosis of autism. Among the children included in the study, those conceived during winter had a significantly greater risk of autism, the study found.

Atypical Neural Networks for Social Orienting in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Neuroimage, Greene et al.
Date Published: 
May 2011
Year Published: 
2011

Researchers at UCLA used fMRI to examine the neural mechanisms involved in social interactions in autism spectrum disorders in order to provide insight into the social attention impairments that characterize the disorder. Researchers examined children and adolescents with ASD with social and nonsocial cues. Data revealed that in typically developing individuals, there was greater responsiveness for social cues than nonsocial cues, compared to ASD. The researchers concluded that this difference indicated that the autistic brain does not assign the same privileged status to social cues as assigned in the typically developing brain.

Aberrant Striatal Functional Connectivity in Children with Autism

Source: 
Biol Psychiatry, Di Martino et al.
Date Published: 
May 2011
Year Published: 
2011

BACKGROUND:

Models of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as neural disconnection syndromes have been predominantly supported by examinations of abnormalities in corticocortical networks in adults with autism. A broader body of research implicates subcortical structures, particularly the striatum, in the physiopathology of autism. Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging has revealed detailed maps of striatal circuitry in healthy and psychiatric populations and vividly captured maturational changes in striatal circuitry during typical development.

METHODS:

Using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined striatal functional connectivity (FC) in 20 children with ASD and 20 typically developing children between the ages of 7.6 and 13.5 years. Whole-brain voxelwise statistical maps quantified within-group striatal FC and between-group differences for three caudate and three putamen seeds for each hemisphere.

RESULTS:

Children with ASD mostly exhibited prominent patterns of ectopic striatal FC (i.e., functional connectivity present in ASD but not in typically developing children), with increased functional connectivity between nearly all striatal subregions and heteromodal associative and limbic cortex previously implicated in the physiopathology of ASD (e.g., insular and right superior temporal gyrus). Additionally, we found striatal functional hyperconnectivity with the pons, thus expanding the scope of functional alterations implicated in ASD. Secondary analyses revealed ASD-related hyperconnectivity between the pons and insula cortex.

CONCLUSIONS:

Examination of FC of striatal networks in children with ASD revealed abnormalities in circuits involving early developing areas, such as the brainstem and insula, with a pattern of increased FC in ectopic circuits that likely reflects developmental derangement rather than immaturity of functional circuits.

New checklist could detect autism by age 1

Source: 
USA Today
Date Published: 
April 28. 2011
Abstract: 

An early screening test for autism, designed to detect signs of the condition in babies as young as 1 year old, could revolutionize the care of autistic children, experts say, by getting them diagnosed and treated years earlier than usual. The checklist — available online now — asks parents or other caregivers about their child's communication skills, from babbling and first words to eye contact.