Posts

July 22, 2014

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8:31 PM | Medical comorbidities in autism
A very quick micropost to direct you to the second version of the document: 'Medical comorbidities in autism spectrum disorders' published by Treating Autism, a group based here in Blighty.Covering a fair chunk of the peer-reviewed science examining the various medical comorbidities which seems to crop up with some regularity when a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is made, this free document (complete with a 6 page reference list) is pretty comprehensive.The message is quite a clear […]
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8:32 AM | Common variation and the genetics of autism
The paper by Trent Gaugler and colleagues [1] reporting that the genetic architecture of the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) seems in the most part to be due to "common variation" over and above "rare variants or spontaneous glitches" adds to the quite voluminous literature in this area.Everything in proportion? @ Wikipedia Based on an analysis of "a unique epidemiological sample from Sweden" researchers looked at DNA variations in some 3000 individuals with autism and asymptomatic […]

Gaugler T, Klei L, Sanders SJ, Bodea CA, Goldberg AP, Lee AB, Mahajan M, Manaa D, Pawitan Y, Reichert J & Ripke S (2014). Most genetic risk for autism resides with common variation., Nature genetics, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25038753

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July 21, 2014

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7:24 AM | Autism and asthma yet again
"Asthma is approximately 35 % more common in autistic children".Pipe down @ Wikipedia That was the finding reported by Stanley Kotey and colleagues [1] based on their analysis of the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) dataset, a resource looking at "the physical and emotional health of children ages 0-17 years of age" resident in the United States. I don't intend to dwell too much on the Kotey findings aside from pointing out: (a) the reported prevalence of autism […]

Kotey, S., Ertel, K. & Whitcomb, B. (2014). Co-occurrence of Autism and Asthma in a Nationally-Representative Sample of Children in the United States, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, DOI: 10.1007/s10803-014-2174-y

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July 18, 2014

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10:47 AM | Ultrafine particulate matter air pollution, mice and autism
Reading the headline "Study links air pollution to autism, schizophrenia" in a media piece about the study by Joshua Allen and colleagues* (open-access here) made me want to delve a little more into this research. I've talked before about air pollution and autism (see here) on this blog. Although a healthy degree of scepticism is to be expected with any autism correlation, particularly when it comes to something as generalised as air pollution (or pesticide exposure) there is a growing […]

July 17, 2014

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6:47 AM | Blood lead levels and childhood behaviour
"Blood lead concentrations, even at a mean concentration of 6.4 µg/dL, were associated with increased risk of behavioral problems in Chinese preschool children, including internalizing and pervasive developmental problems". That was the conclusion of the study by Jianghong Liu and colleagues [1] looking at blood lead levels in preschoolers aged 3-5 years resident in Jiangsu province in China. Some associated media accompanying this study can be viewed here including the text: […]

July 16, 2014

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8:50 AM | Organic acids as biomarkers of autism?
Whilst I am always a little cautious about the use of the word 'biomarker' when applied to a heterogeneous condition like autism, even the autisms, I am nevertheless always intrigued at any reasonable prospect reported in the scientific literature. So it was when I read the paper by Joanna Kałużna-Czaplińska and colleagues [1] and their assertion that "there is a significant metabolic difference between autistic and non-autistic children" and onwards that "21 metabolites […]

July 14, 2014

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9:02 AM | Joint hypermobility, gait and autism
I have already made mention of the paper by Maya Shetreat-Klein and colleagues [1] on this blog as part of a post on the potential usefulness of kata training for at least some people on the autism spectrum (see here). Based on an analysis of 38 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a similar number of asymptomatic controls (all medication free), researchers set about recording "the characteristics of gait and prevalence of toe walking, the range of passive joint mobility, […]

Shetreat-Klein M, Shinnar S & Rapin I (2014). Abnormalities of joint mobility and gait in children with autism spectrum disorders., Brain & development, 36 (2) 91-6. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22401670

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July 12, 2014

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3:36 PM | Organic food: meta-analysed
A very quick post to direct you to the paper by Barański and colleagues [1] which is currently making a few headlines and sparking some debate (see here and see here) with their assertions: "the concentrations of a range of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were found to be substantially higher in organic crops/crop-based foods" and "the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was found to be four times higher in conventional crops, which also contained significantly […]

Barański M, Srednicka-Tober D, Volakakis N, Seal C, Sanderson R, Stewart GB, Benbrook C, Biavati B, Markellou E, Giotis C & Gromadzka-Ostrowska J (2014). Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses., The British journal of nutrition, 1-18. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24968103

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July 11, 2014

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8:48 AM | Maternal C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and offspring schizophrenia
A big quote to start this post: "This finding provides the most robust evidence to date that maternal inflammation may play a significant role in schizophrenia, with possible implications for identifying preventive strategies and pathogenic mechanisms in schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental disorders".Ophelia @ Wikipedia The source for this quote was the paper by Sarah Canetta and colleagues [1] based on an analysis of serum samples from mums for C-reactive protein (CRP) as […]

Canetta, S., Sourander, A., Surcel, H., Hinkka-Yli-Salomäki, S., Leiviskä, J., Kellendonk, C., McKeague, I. & Brown, A. (2014). Elevated Maternal C-Reactive Protein and Increased Risk of Schizophrenia in a National Birth Cohort, American Journal of Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.13121579

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July 10, 2014

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7:34 AM | Viral exposure and autism
A whole slew of articles published by Ivan Gentile and colleagues based at the University of Naples (Italy) brought me to writing this post looking at some of the literature on viral exposures and autism. Viruses, in case you didn't know, are some of nature's survivors, infecting host cells and reproducing, onwards hopeful of finding more (un)willing cells/organisms to infect. Humankind have developed various biological defence mechanisms against the viral (and bacterial) onslaught that we all […]

Gentile I, Zappulo E, Bonavolta R, Maresca R, Messana T, Buonomo AR, Portella G, Sorrentino R, Settimi A, Pascotto A & Borgia G (2014). Prevalence and Titre of Antibodies to Cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr Virus in Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder., In vivo (Athens, Greece), 28 (4) 621-626. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24982232

Gentile I, Zappulo E, Bonavolta R, Maresca R, Riccio MP, Buonomo AR, Portella G, Settimi A, Pascotto A, Borgia G & Bravaccio C (2014). Exposure to Varicella Zoster Virus Is Higher in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder than in Healthy Controls. Results from a Case-control Study., In vivo (Athens, Greece), 28 (4) 627-631. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24982233

Gentile I, Zappulo E, Bonavolta R, Maresca R, Riccio MP, Buonomo AR, Portella G, Vallefuoco L, Settimi A, Pascotto A & Borgia G (2014). Prevalence of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2 Antibodies in Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders., In vivo (Athens, Greece), 28 (4) 667-671. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24982239

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July 09, 2014

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9:52 AM | Familial Recurrence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (again)
The paper by Neil Risch and colleagues [1] adds to the growing literature looking at the question of familial recurrence of autism i.e. if one child has a diagnosis of autism, how likely are subsequent children to be similarly diagnosed. The answer according to this latest data: "The overall sibling recurrence risk was 10.1%" compared with 0.5% in siblings of asymptomatic controls. This figure is pretty much the same as that reported by Sandin and colleagues [2] covered not so long ago (see […]

July 08, 2014

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9:25 AM | Coenzyme Q10 and autism
The paper by Frederick Crane and colleagues [1] (open-access here) caught my eye recently and their suggestion that when it comes to autism there may be more research to do on coenzyme Q10. Indeed, the old grey-pinkish matter started grinding into action as to whether there may be a wider research literature on CoQ10 with a focus on autism...A helping hand? @ Wikipedia Coenzyme Q10 otherwise known as ubiquinone, has appeared before on this blog for various reasons (see here and […]

Crane FL, Löw H, Sun I, Navas P & Gvozdjáková A (2014). Plasma membrane coenzyme Q: evidence for a role in autism., Biologics : targets & therapy, 8 199-205. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24920882

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July 07, 2014

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7:18 AM | Reproductive stoppage related to autism
The paper by Thomas Hoffmann and colleagues [1] on reproductive stoppage - the decision to not have more children - in couples with a child already diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the source for today's post. This is both an important and delicate area to talk about so I tread very carefully in my discussions.The Holy Infants @ Wikipedia A few details first:Based on records held at the California Department of Developmental Services, children born between 1990 […]

Hoffmann, T., Windham, G., Anderson, M., Croen, L., Grether, J. & Risch, N. (2014). Evidence of Reproductive Stoppage in Families With Autism Spectrum Disorder, JAMA Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.420

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July 04, 2014

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8:53 AM | DNA methylation patterns and autism: buccal up
"The results indicate the presence of a mosaic subpopulation of epigenetically-dysregulated, ectodermally-derived cells in subjects with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]". That was the very clinical primary conclusion reached in the study by Esther Berko and colleagues [1] (open-access here). They looked at DNA methylation patterns in cheek cell samples for a small sample of children diagnosed with an ASD (n=47) "born to mothers aged 35 and over" compared with samples from an asymptomatic control […]

July 02, 2014

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7:40 AM | Quality of life and autism
The BBC ran an interesting article on their website recently titled: Happiness and disability. Discussions about the disability paradox - whereby some people with often significant and persistent disability report experiencing a good or excellent quality of life (QoL) - got me thinking about QoL and in particular, how it might relate to the very wide and very heterogeneous autism spectrum. I might add that I am not insinuating that everyone diagnosed on the autism spectrum are 'disabled' but […]

Chiang, H. & Wineman, I. (2014). Factors associated with quality of life in individuals with autism spectrum disorders: A review of literature, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8 (8) 974-986. DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2014.05.003

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July 01, 2014

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8:48 AM | Mercury exposure and autism or ADHD meta-analysed
The paper by Yoshimasu and colleagues [1] is the talking point today, and their assertion following meta-analysis that: "Moderate adverse effects were observed only between environmental inorganic or organic mercury exposures and ASD/ADHD".Eruption... @ Wikipedia For clarity, ASD means autism spectrum disorder and ADHD refers to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Inorganic and organic mercury refer to some of the different forms of mercury. Meta-analysis, as I've said […]

Yoshimasu K, Kiyohara C, Takemura S & Nakai K (2014). A meta-analysis of the evidence on the impact of prenatal and early infancy exposures to mercury on autism and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the childhood., Neurotoxicology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24952233

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June 30, 2014

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8:37 AM | AAP policy statement on iodine deficiency and pollutants
The quite recent policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) drafted by Rogan and colleagues [1] is the source for today's short(ish) post. Highlighting a growing concern on the issue of iodine deficiency in women of reproductive age, the policy document also raises awareness of "commonly encountered environmental chemicals" potentially exacerbating such deficiency, and in particular "thiocyanate, nitrate and perchlorate". These chemicals are specifically mentioned because of […]

, . (2014). Iodine Deficiency, Pollutant Chemicals, and the Thyroid: New Information on an Old Problem, PEDIATRICS, 133 (6) 1163-1166. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2014-0900

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June 29, 2014

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11:39 AM | A gluten-free diet for asymptomatic patients with coeliac disease
The tip of the iceberg? @ Wikipedia Today I'd like to focus on the paper by Kalle Kurppa and colleagues [1] and their suggestion that: "GFDs [gluten-free diets] benefit asymptomatic EMA-positive [endomysial antibody] patients" with coeliac (celiac) disease in mind.Asymptomatic, when it comes to a condition like coeliac disease (CD) - an autoimmune condition linked to the consumption of gluten - is not necessarily all that surprising given the numbers of cases […]

June 28, 2014

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7:25 AM | On parental inflammatory bowel disease and offspring autism risk
The paper by Ane Birgitte Telén Andersen and colleagues [1] (open-access here) concluding "no evidence of an increased risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorders] among children born to parents with IBD [inflammatory bowel disease]" caught my eye recently.Qays and Layla @ Wikipedia Based on an analysis of one of those Danish Registries which seem to be providing all-manner of important correlations and non-correlations, the authors looked for the presence of parental IBDs […]

Andersen AB, Ehrenstein V, Erichsen R, Frøslev T & Sørensen HT (2014). Autism spectrum disorders in children of parents with inflammatory bowel disease - a nationwide cohort study in Denmark., Clinical and experimental gastroenterology, 7 105-10. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24855384

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June 27, 2014

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9:08 AM | Scurvy, vitamin C and autism
I'd been thinking about writing this post on scurvy, vitamin C and autism for quite a while. The paper by Kitcharoensakkul and colleagues [1] really made the decision for me, following their discussions on three young children with walking difficulties who were eventually diagnosed with scurvy, one of whom was diagnosed with autism. The authors concluded: "These clinical manifestations and radiologic findings highlight the importance for rheumatologists to have a higher index of suspicion […]

Kitcharoensakkul M, Schulz CG, Kassel R, Khanna G, Liang S, Ngwube A, Baszis KW, Hunstad DA & White AJ (2014). Scurvy revealed by difficulty walking: three cases in young children., Journal of clinical rheumatology : practical reports on rheumatic & musculoskeletal diseases, 20 (4) 224-8. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24847751

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June 26, 2014

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8:44 AM | Increased rates of suicidal ideation in adults with Asperger syndrome
"Our findings lend support to anecdotal reports of increased rates of suicidal ideation in adults with Asperger's syndrome, and depression as an important potential risk factor for suicidality in adults with this condition".Sunrise @ Wikipedia That was the very stark conclusion reached by the study by Sarah Cassidy and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking at self-reported rates of suicide ideation and suicide plans/attempts in a sample of adults newly diagnosed with Asperger […]

Sarah Cassidy, Paul Bradley, Janine Robinson, Carrie Allison, Meghan McHugh & Simon Baron-Cohen (2014). Suicidal ideation and suicide plans or attempts in adults with Asperger's syndrome attending a specialist diagnostic clinic: a clinical cohort study, Lancet Psychiatry, Other:

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June 25, 2014

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8:33 AM | Silence ENO2! More epigenetics and autism
The paper by Yu Wang and colleagues [1] (open-access here) concluded that: "reduced ENO2 expression may be a biomarker for a subset of autistic children" following their genome-wide methylation study of autism. For those who've picked up the word 'methylation' in that first sentence, this is yet another sign that epigenetics - the science of changes to gene function not entailing structural genomic changes - is starting to impact on autism research.Silentio! @ Wikipedia Based on an […]

Wang Y, Fang Y, Zhang F, Xu M, Zhang J, Yan J, Ju W, Brown WT & Zhong N (2014). Hypermethylation of the enolase gene (ENO2) in autism., European journal of pediatrics, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24737292

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June 23, 2014

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7:53 PM | Pesticides and autism: chapter II
I've labelled this entry a chapter II post reflecting some continued interest in how agricultural pesticide exposure might fit into autism research (see here for the chapter I post). In that previous post, I talked about various issues such as the old correlation-is-not-necessarily-causation mantra and indeed, how use of something like galantamine for cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) [1] might present something of a paradox for certain types of pesticides being involved in the condition, […]
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8:30 AM | Kata training and autism
The actor and musician Steven Seagal is probably not natural fodder for this blog about autism research but he does nevertheless make an appearance today. More readily known for his action films - my favourite was always 'Under Siege' - one of the appeals of Mr Seagal was his knowledge and use of martial arts in his various roles, as a function of his quite impressive real-life black belt in Aikido.Obi Wan... no Obi knot @ Wikipedia It is with martial arts in mind that today I'm […]
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