Autism News

Whole-Genome Sequencing Reveals New Types of Autism Risk

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

Much of the genetic risk for autism may reside in regulatory regions of the genome, hidden from traditional methods of sequencing analysis. That's the upshot of preliminary results from three studies presented at the 2014 American Society of Human Genetics Annual Meeting in San Diego. Together, the findings from these new studies show the promise of looking for autism risk in unusual places.

Sex/Gender Differences and Autism: Setting the Scene for Future Research

Source: 
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Date Published: 
October 17, 2014
Abstract: 

A group in the UK conducted an exhaustive literature search surrounding current studies on sex and gender differences and autism spectrum disorders. This literature search grouped studies into four categories, focusing on behavioral features, diagnosis and disparity issues, causes of disparity, and developmental trajectory. These same topics will be discussed on October 29 at the Sex and Gender Differences in ASD science workshop in New York, sponsored by the Autism Science Foundation and Autism Speaks.

Siblings of Children with Autism can Show Signs at 18 Months

Source: 
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Date Published: 
October 14, 2014
Abstract: 

About 20% of younger siblings of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will develop the condition by age 3. A new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers has found that 57% of these younger siblings who later develop the condition already showed symptoms at age 18 months. Published in the October Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, this is the first large-scale, multi-site study aimed at identifying specific social-communicative behaviors that distinguish infants with ASD from their typically and atypically developing high-risk peers as early as 18 months of age.

New Mouse Model Mimics Brain Abnormalities in Autism

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
October 6, 2014.
Abstract: 

Mice with mutations in the autism-linked gene WDFY3 have enlarged brains reminiscent of those seen in some children with autism, finds a study published in Nature Communications. The brain overgrowth begins in the womb, the study found. WDFY3 plays a role in autophagy, a process that rids cells of damaged or unneeded parts. Mouse embryos with two copies of the mutant gene have enlarged brains and an excess of immature neurons that divide faster than usual. They also have misdirected patches of neurons. Similar changes have been observed in people with autism.

Method Reveals Thin Insulation on Neurons in Autism Brains

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
September 24, 2014
Abstract: 

There is less myelin in the brains of people with autism than in those of controls, according to a study published in Psychological Medicine. Myelin is an insulating material that allows neurons to fire rapidly. Researchers applied a method that measures myelin in living brains with autism for the first time. The researchers speculate that low myelin explains the weak connectivity observed in the brains of people with autism. Without proper insulation, electrical signals travel slowly along the axons, making it difficult for regions of the brain to coordinate their activity.

Maternal Intake of Supplemental Iron and Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
University of California - Davis
Date Published: 
September 22, 2014
Abstract: 

Mothers of children with autism are significantly less likely to report taking iron supplements before and during their pregnancies than the mothers of children who are developing normally, a study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute has found. Low iron intake was associated with a five-fold greater risk of autism in the child if the mother was 35 or older at the time of the child's birth or if she suffered from metabolic conditions such as obesity hypertension or diabetes. The research is the first to examine the relationship between maternal iron intake and having a child with autism spectrum disorder.

Services for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Three Large Urban School Districts: Perspectives of Parents and Educators.

Source: 
Autism
Date Published: 
September 5, 2014
Abstract: 

Researchers from Philadelphia, LA and Rochester addresses issues that is on the mind of every parent of a child with autism: What can I expect when my child with ASD enters school? The group interviewed parents, teachers and administrators in schools and asked them what their greatest challenges were, in hopes of identifying ways to address those problems. Across all three cities and across all the different groups some common themes emerged: first, the analysis identified and documented that there was underlying tension between all the groups. Parents were frustrated with the school system and some of the systems in place. Teachers also expressed frustration with the administrators and the system in general. Also, while need for training was identified, what was surprising was that everyone thought it was needed. Teachers thought it was needed for themselves, for their teachers aids, and even the administrators wanted to get in on the action. Finally, parents, teachers and administrators felt that there needs to be a cultural shift to support the idea of inclusion, rather than exclusion.

Positive Affect in Infant Siblings of Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Source: 
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Date Published: 
August 13, 2014
Abstract: 

In a study published this week, Canadian “infant sibs” researchers examined very early symptoms in infants at risk for ASD. These are infants who have an older sibling affected with ASD and show a 1/5 recurrence rate. Meaning instead of 1/68, these kids have a 1/5 chance of having ASD. Because they were able to follow them over time, they assessed them carefully as they grew up. In this study, they were focused on smiling and affect. They showed that infants at risk for ASD that went on to get an ASD diagnosis didn’t smile as much at 12-18 months of age. This is consistent with previous ‘red flags’ of “no warm joyful smiles” but takes it a step farther and shows the duration and number of smiles is fewer in kids with ASD. Researchers are going to use this to improve the early signs and symptoms of autism and develop more targeted interventions for the early stages of ASD.

Dysregulation of Estrogen Receptor Beta, Aromatase, and ER Co-Activators in the Middle Frontal Gyrus of Autism Spectrum Disorder Subjects

Source: 
Molecular Autism
Date Published: 
September 9, 2014
Abstract: 

In a study conducted at the medical college of Georgia, researchers found a reduction in estrogen receptors in the frontal cortex of brains of boys with ASD. They also found a decrease in the expression of an enzyme that regulates hormones in the brain. The researchers suggest that this may be one of the reasons for the sex difference in ASD, but these findings also point to a potential gene/environment interaction in the disorder. One of the drawback of this study, however, is that there were only 13 samples in each group. The reality is that there is a shortage of available brain tissue to study. If you'd like to learn more about brain tissue donation that will further autism research, visit TakesBrains.org.

Infants with Autism Smile Less at 1 Year of Age

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
September 12, 2014
Abstract: 

A new study reports that by the time they turn 1, infants who are later diagnosed with autism smile less often than those who do not develop the disorder. That suggests that reduced smiling may be an early risk marker for the disorder. In the study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, researchers examined 22 typically developing infants with no family history of autism and 44 infant siblings of children with the disorder. These so-called ‘baby sibs’ have an increased risk for autism. In the new study, half of the 44 baby sibs later developed autism. The results of this study are important because clinicians often struggle to identify those baby sibs who will later develop autism versus those who may display autism-like traits but won’t develop the disorder.