Posts

September 29, 2014

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8:35 AM | Term vs. preterm birth and the presentation of autism
The paper by Katherine Bowers and colleagues [1] continues the interest in the concept of 'the autisms' with their observations on the presentation of autism (and its comorbidities) when looking at those "born preterm versus those born at term".We'd better get back, 'cause it'll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night... mostlyBased on an analysis of quite a healthy participant number heading up to 900 "males and females with autism spectrum disorder", authors reported on several phenotypic […]

Bowers K, Wink LK, Pottenger A, McDougle CJ & Erickson C (2014). Phenotypic differences in individuals with autism spectrum disorder born preterm and at term gestation., Autism : the international journal of research and practice, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25192860

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7:00 AM | Premature deaths of people with learning disabilities – reflections on Department of Health progress report
The Government progress report on the Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities was published last week. In this blog, Pauline Heslop and colleagues who wrote the original Confidential Inquiry, reflect on the progress that has been made and what still needs to be done. The post Premature deaths of people with learning disabilities – reflections on Department of Health progress report appeared first on The Learning Disabilities Elf.

September 28, 2014

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8:09 PM | Autism across DSM-IV and DSM-5 descriptions
The paper/poster(?) by Harker & Stone [1] kinda says it all when it comes to the question: what changed in the description of autism between the DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5? The added bonus of comparing the US IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) description of autism with DSM-5 will, I assume, also be important to quite a few people not least when it comes to any further research which uses the datasets on numbers of cases for example (see here).I have little more to say aside from […]

September 27, 2014

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7:50 AM | Yes, people with autism do have headaches
I don't mean to be haughty but a sentence included in the paper by Victorio [1] led to the title of today's very quick post. Based on a chart review of patients diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) attending a neurology clinic, the author concluded that "ASD patients, despite being known to have indifference to pain, can experience headaches".Pain is something which has cropped up quite a bit in the autism research arena and has appeared more than once on this blog (see here and see […]

Victorio, M. (2014). EHMTI-0290. Headaches in patients with autism spectrum disorder, The Journal of Headache and Pain, 15 (Suppl 1) DOI: 10.1186/1129-2377-15-S1-B37

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September 26, 2014

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9:32 AM | Schizophrenia after child and adolescent psychiatric disorders
More of a 'bring to your attention' post today, as I bring to your attention(!) the paper by Cecilie Frejstrup Maibing and colleagues [1] who concluded: "The risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorders [SSD] after a child and adolescent psychiatric disorder was significantly increased particularly in the short term but also in the long-term period"."I coulda been a contender"The findings were based on an analysis of one of those very informative […]
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7:26 AM | Poisoned Tusker Treated in Daring Field Operation, the Eleventh in Two Weeks
The remarkable story about a large tusker who was rescued from a slow, poisonous death.

September 25, 2014

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9:10 AM | Temporal trends in US autism prevalence: mainly real increase
"Diagnosed autism prevalence has risen dramatically in the U.S over the last several decades and continued to trend upward as of birth year 2005. The increase is mainly real and has occurred mostly since the late 1980s"."They call me Cha Cha because I'm the best dancer at St. Bernadette's"That was the conclusion reached in the paper by Cynthia Nevison [1] (open-access) following her analysis of temporal trends in autism diagnosis for birth years between 1970 and 2005. Based on an analysis […]
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6:01 AM | So You Think you can Synthesize?
Macquarie University has once again entered a team of undergraduate students to compete in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) synthetic biology competition. Over the last four years, our teams have won 3 silver and 1 bronze medals. This year our team is hoping to win a gold medal, though they do have one handicap- I will be coming along with them as a team advisor to the iGEM Giant Jamboree in Boston.This year as an outreach activity, our iGEM team has created an online […]

September 24, 2014

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10:58 AM | Psychiatric effects of childhood inflammation?
"Higher levels of the systemic inflammatory marker IL-6 [interleukin 6] in childhood are associated with an increased risk of developing depression and psychosis in young adulthood". So said the paper by Golam Khandaker and colleagues [1] looking at the growing link between inflammation and psychiatry.The bright light of Autumn @ Wikipedia The name Khandaker has appeared before on this blog (see here and see here), most recently with research looking at a possible link between […]

September 23, 2014

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1:38 PM | Maternal iron intake and offspring autism risk
Much like the discussions around the paper by Rogers and colleagues (see here) on treating autism in the first year of life, the media scrum around the findings from Rebecca Schmidt and colleagues [1] talking about maternal iron supplements and offspring autism spectrum disorder (ASD) risk preceded the publication of the paper by a few days. It's getting to be a pet-hate of mine that big headlines are being generated sometimes days before your average Jane or Joe can see the data upon which […]
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9:00 AM | Gut issues in autism impacting on drug availability and absorption
As indicated in a recent post, I was really rather pleased to see the paper by Andrew Heitzer and colleagues [1] (open-access) asking the important question: Should clinical trial research of psychotropic medication in autism control for gastrointestinal symptoms? Some media about the study can also be found here."You write "Born to Kill" on your helmet and you wear a peace button".The answer is of course, yes and not just when it comes to psychotropic medicines either, given that […]
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8:23 AM | Relatively Prime podcast series 2 Kickstarter
Friend of the Aperiodical Samuel Hansen has launched a Kickstarter to fund a second series of his maths podcast Relatively Prime. The first series was successfully funded in 2011 and consisted of eight hour-long episodes telling “stories from the mathematical domain”, including interviews with Tim Gowers, Matt Parker, David Spiegelhalter and more. For the second series,... Read more »

September 22, 2014

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3:45 PM | Stigma and Publicity
#DoubtfireFace Challenge for Suicide Prevention? Never heard of it. The ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” is undoubtedly one of the most successful and engaging fundraising efforts in recent history. The challenge, which involved posting a video of yourself getting doused by a bucket of ice water, quickly gained popularity and became a social phenomenon. Teens, adults, […]
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7:32 AM | Omega-3 fatty acids and ADHD
With a title like that, this post could turn out to be quite a long winded blog entry. As it happens, I'm not going to subject you, dear reader, to such a literary onslaught but rather focus my attention on the paper by Elizabeth Hawkey & Joel Nigg [1] who undertook two meta-analyses and concluded that: "Omega-3 levels are reduced in children with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]" and "Dietary supplementation appears to create modest improvements in symptoms"."Maybe the 80s […]

Hawkey E & Nigg JT (2014). Omega-3 fatty acid and ADHD: Blood level analysis and meta-analytic extension of supplementation trials., Clinical psychology review, 34 (6) 496-505. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25181335

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3:03 AM | There is no I in team, but there is one in Ian
On Friday, I took the labgroup out for a team building exercise, and nothing builds team spirit like shooting each other with lasers! So we went out and played lasertag and ten-pin bowling.So what did we learn from this outing-- running around like a maniac with a laser is a good workout, my muscles still ache 3 days later- being a sneaky sniper does not work as a lasertag strategy- after I was shot by Liam five times in the first 30 seconds or so, I realised running around like a kitten on […]

September 20, 2014

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8:51 AM | Antibiotics and risk of pediatric Crohn's disease
I couldn't let the meta-analysis from Ryan Ungaro and colleagues [1] pass without a brief mention. Concluding that: "Exposure to antibiotics appears to increase the odds of being newly diagnosed with CD [Crohn's disease] but not UC [ulcerative colitis]" and further: "This risk is most marked in children diagnosed with CD", the implications from this and other findings in this area may be far-reaching.I've talked before on this blog about antibiotic exposure and risk of […]

September 19, 2014

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6:24 PM | A Single Insurer Holds Obamacare's Fate In 2 States
Where have the insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act struggled the most? The answer lies in commerce, not politics.
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6:00 PM | The Business of Surgery: Has Love Been Lost?
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8:08 AM | Increasing parental age and autism severity?
An interesting paper by David Geier and colleagues [1] (open-access here) caught my eye recently, concluding that there was a lack of support for the suggestion that: "increasing parental age was associated with increasing autism spectrum disorder phenotypic severity"."the snozzberries taste like snozzberries".Before progressing through the paper and its possible implications, the eagle-eyed out there might have already spotted the name Dr Brian Hooker on the authorship list of the Geier paper. […]

Geier DA, Hooker BS, Kern JK, Sykes LK & Geier MR (2014). An Evaluation of the Effect of Increasing Parental Age on the Phenotypic Severity of Autism Spectrum Disorder., Journal of child neurology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25163730

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September 18, 2014

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8:50 AM | Anxiety and sensory over-responsivity linked to gut issues in autism
"The name's Lonnegan! Doyle Lonnegan!"Consider this micropost an extension of some previous discussions on this blog about how gastrointestinal (GI) issues present in cases of autism might show some connection to the presence of anxiety and sensory issues (see here). Today I'm discussing further research by Micah Mazurek and colleagues [1] which follows a previous publication by this author [2] on this topic.In the latest paper, Dr Mazurek and colleagues describe the course of abdominal pain in […]

Mazurek, M., Keefer, A., Shui, A. & Vasa, R. (2014). One-year course and predictors of abdominal pain in children with autism spectrum disorders: The role of anxiety and sensory over-responsivity, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8 (11) 1508-1515. DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2014.07.018

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8:40 AM | Congrats Deepa!
Deepa Varkey is a PhD student in my group working on how marine cyanobacteria adapt to different temperatures. She has just won a prize for the best poster at the 9th European Workshop on the Molecular Biology of Cyanobacteria in the Netherlands. Great job Deepa!Deepa and her prize winning poster
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1:41 AM | Born to be Wild (Sort of)
“Civilisation; it’s all about knives and forks.” —David Byrne As a child I was not nature-deprived. I lived in small towns and villages in rural Somerset in England, and enjoyed nature study in primary school but I know that I’ve never … Continue reading →

September 17, 2014

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10:29 AM | Autoimmune disease risk and eating disorders
"We were set up. The cops were waiting for us.""We observed an association between eating disorders and several autoimmune diseases with different genetic backgrounds. Our findings support the link between immune-mediated mechanisms and development of eating disorders".So said the paper by Anu Raevuori and colleagues [1] (open-access) based on an analysis of over 2300 people "treated at the Eating Disorder Unit of Helsinki University Central Hospital between 1995 and 2010" compared with […]

September 16, 2014

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4:36 PM | faulty cement well casings cause of fracking related contamination
A new study finds that the well casing – the cement that seals the drill holes – to be the cause of fracking related water contamination.  It has been a little unclear if the well casings were the cause of … Continue reading →
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6:50 AM | The schizophrenias (plural)
A micropost if you will, to draw your attention to the paper by Javier Arnedo and colleagues [1] mentioning the concept of 'the schizophrenias' (plural). Some media coverage of this paper can be found here and here. The crux of the paper is that although currently unified by a diagnostic label, schizophrenia seems to be comprised of various conditions: "caused by a moderate number of separate genotypic networks associated with several distinct clinical syndromes"."... dogs and cats living […]

Javier Arnedo, Dragan M. Svrakic, Coral del Val, Rocío Romero-Zaliz, Helena Hernández-Cuervo, Molecular Genetics of Schizophrenia Consortium, Ayman H. Fanous, Michele T. Pato, Carlos N. Pato, Gabriel A. de Erausquin & C. Robert Cloninger (2014). Uncovering the Hidden Risk Architecture of the Schizophrenias: Confirmation in Three Independent Genome-Wide Association Studies, The American Journal of Psychiatry, Other:

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September 15, 2014

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8:47 AM | Zinc and copper and autism
The paper by Li and colleagues [1] looking at serum copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) levels in a group of participants diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the source material for today's post. Highlighting how "mean serum Zn levels and Zn/Cu ratio were significantly lower in children with ASD compared with normal cases... whereas serum Cu levels were significantly higher" the continued focus on the metallome in autism carries on at a pace. I should at this point out that I'm not […]

Li SO, Wang JL, Bjørklund G, Zhao WN & Yin CH (2014). Serum copper and zinc levels in individuals with autism spectrum disorders., Neuroreport, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25162784

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September 12, 2014

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3:47 PM | Insulin, growth hormone and risk of schizophrenia?
"Overall, the present findings suggest that metabolic and hormonal disturbances such as effects on insulin and growth hormone may represent a vulnerability factor to develop mental disorders". That was the conclusion reported by van Beveren and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking at "disruption of insulin and growth factor signaling pathways as an increased risk factor for schizophrenia"."Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars"Drawing on data derived from participants taking part […]

van Beveren NJ, Schwarz E, Noll R, Guest PC, Meijer C, de Haan L & Bahn S (2014). Evidence for disturbed insulin and growth hormone signaling as potential risk factors in the development of schizophrenia., Translational psychiatry, 4 PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25158005

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9:05 AM | Managing Innovation: Step-by-step approach rarely yields better performance
Paul Hünermund, who was a young scientist at #lindauecon14 explains his research on innovation management. Step by step to innovation success? Being an innovative company is easier said (or included in a mission statement) than done. Managers of innovative companies have to spend large R&D budgets on projects with highly uncertain outcomes. In high-tech industries […]

September 11, 2014

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1:55 PM | Treating autism in the first year of life
I had been waiting y'know. Waiting a while for the paper by Sally Rogers and colleagues [1] to finally appear quite a few days after the media headlines about 'reducing', 'reversing' and even 'eliminating' the signs and symptoms of autism in early infancy had appeared. Personally, I prefer the New Scientist headline: 'Early autism intervention speeds infant development' given the text of the paper. I should perhaps also add the words 'for some' to that sentence as you will hopefully […]

S. J. Rogers, L. Vismara, A. L. Wagner, C. McCormick, G. Young & S. Ozonoff (2014). Autism Treatment in the First Year of Life: A Pilot Study of Infant Start, a Parent-Implemented Intervention for Symptomatic Infants, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Other:

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8:42 AM | Omega-3 fatty acids rescues Fragile X phenotypes in Fmr1-Ko mice
"These results demonstrate that n-3 PUFAs dietary supplementation, although not a panacea, has a considerable therapeutic value for FXS [Fragile X syndrome] and potentially for ASD [autism spectrum disorder], suggesting a major mediating role of neuroinflammatory mechanisms".A view @ Wikipedia That was the conclusion reached by Susanna Pietropaolo and colleagues [1] who "evaluated the impact of n-3 PUFA dietary supplementation in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome […]

Pietropaolo S, Goubran MG, Joffre C, Aubert A, Lemaire-Mayo V, Crusio WE & Layé S (2014). Dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids rescues fragile X phenotypes in Fmr1-Ko mice., Psychoneuroendocrinology, 49C 119-129. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25080404

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