Post List

  • October 6, 2015
  • 01:51 PM

American placebo – An increase in the placebo response, but only in America?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A new study finds that rising placebo responses may play a part in the increasingly high failure rate for clinical trials of drugs designed to control chronic pain caused by nerve damage. Surprisingly, however, the analysis of clinical trials conducted since 1990 found that the increase in placebo responses occurred only in trials conducted wholly in the U.S.; trials conducted in Europe or Asia showed no changes in placebo responses over that period.... Read more »

  • October 6, 2015
  • 11:22 AM

Do Baseball Players Live Longer?

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

The Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs begin today. I did a PubMed search for recent research related to baseball.One interesting abstract examined the body of research related to elite athletes and longevity.This review article examined 54 peer-reviewed manuscripts that addressed the mortality and longevity of elite athletes. Sixteen of these studies examined longevity in MLB players.I will summarize some of the conclusions from this review.MLB players tended to have longer lifespan than controls by up to an average of around 4.5 yearsPlayers with longer MLB careers tended to have the most extended lifespansSome studies found evidence for slighter shorter lifespans for left-handed players than for right-handed players. A handedness effect was not found in some studies.Years of education contributed to longevity in MLB players, a finding that has been reported in the general populationPosition played and body weight of MLB players contributed to extended life expectancy with lower weight players showing the greatest mortality benefitMLB players were similar to NBA and NFL players in showing an extended longevity compared to the general population. However, NFL players showed higher rates of death due to neurodegenerative disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Alzheimer's diseaseThe authors note there are some significant research design issues including potential confounders in this type of research. First, athletic participation at the elite level selects individuals with the highest levels of fitness and health. Additionally, athletes are required to maintain high fitness levels during their playing careers. Many may continue to participate in fitness activities following the end of their career. Elite athletic participation appears to be associated with increased longevity, although this effect may be tempered if high body weight is required for the sport and the position played.Readers with more interest in this research can access the free full-text manuscript by clicking on the PMID link in the citation below.Follow the author on Twitter WRY999Photo of the Duomo cathedral in Florence, Italy is from the author's files.Lemez S, & Baker J (2015). Do Elite Athletes Live Longer? A Systematic Review of Mortality and Longevity in Elite Athletes. Sports medicine - open, 1 (1) PMID: 26301178... Read more »

  • October 6, 2015
  • 10:11 AM

How Cuttlefish Stay Camouflaged On the Go

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Most camouflaged creatures try to hold still so they won't give away their ruse. But cuttlefish aren't most creatures. These masters of camouflage can change color to seamlessly match their background, and they can keep swimming while they do it.

"Cuttlefish are one of nature's fastest dynamic camouflagers," says Noam Josef, a graduate student at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. The cephalopods can change color in just one tenth of a second. They can also create different... Read more »

Josef N, Berenshtein I, Fiorito G, Sykes AV, & Shashar N. (2015) Camouflage during movement in the European cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis). The Journal of experimental biology. PMID: 26385328  

  • October 6, 2015
  • 09:24 AM

The Earliest Example of Decapitation and Why Archaeologists Should Learn to Draw

by Katy Meyers Emery in Bones Don't Lie

That title is not a mistake. When I read the recent articles about the earliest example of a decapitation, my first thought was “wow, look at those illustrations; we really […]... Read more »

Strauss A, Oliveira RE, Bernardo DV, Salazar-García DC, Talamo S, Jaouen K, Hubbe M, Black S, Wilkinson C, Richards MP.... (2015) The Oldest Case of Decapitation in the New World (Lapa do Santo, East-Central Brazil). PloS one, 10(9). PMID: 26397983  

  • October 6, 2015
  • 06:00 AM

Deadlier than Darth: Death by worm-star

by socgenmicro in Microbe Post

If you happen to be a nematode, worm-stars are probably your worst nightmare. One minute, you’re swimming around minding your own business. The next, you’ve been sucked into a wildly thrashing mass of your peers, all stuck to each other … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 6, 2015
  • 04:37 AM

Prenatal hormone involvement in autism risk?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Gayle Windham and colleagues [1] caught my eye recently and their observations based on the examination of mid-pregnancy serum hormone and protein markers for some 2500 mothers of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with 600,000 controls.Detailing results based on: "Second trimester levels of unconjugated estriol (uE3), human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP)", researchers reported that their results: "further support prenatal hormone involvement in ASD risk."I perhaps need to do a little 'defining' before progressing any further with this post. Unconjugated estriol (uE3) refers to an estrogen. It becomes the dominant oestrogen during pregnancy; produced by the baby's liver and placenta. Measured levels of uE3 during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy have been linked to various 'outcomes' including the possibility of Down's syndrome and neural tube defects.Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is another hormone; one that is normally used to confirm pregnancy. During pregnancy, levels of hCG can also be used to determine Down's syndrome. Serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) is the most abundant plasma protein found in the developing foetus. During pregnancy, extremes in levels of MSAFP can indicate issues in pregnancy. Combined together, these various hormones/proteins make up the so-called triple test, that when added to information such as maternal age and stage of pregnancy, can classify a pregnancy as being high or low risk for chromosomal abnormalities. That being said, the test is by no means perfect.Windham et al report some rather complicated results based on adjusted odds ratios (AOR) when it came to autism vs control samples. So: "Lower uE3 (AOR for < 10th percentile vs. 25th-74th percentiles = 1.21, 95 % CI 1.06-1.37), and higher MSAFP (AOR = 1.21, 95 % CI 1.07-1.37 for > 90th percentile) were significantly associated with ASD. A U-shaped relationship was seen for hCG (AOR = 1.16, 95 % CI 1.02-1.32 for < 10th percentile; AOR = 1.19, 95 % CI 1.05-1.36 for > 90th percentile)." Lower uE3 is a trend found in relation to Down's syndrome. Higher MSAFP however runs slightly counter to what has been discussed in relation to Down's syndrome. By contrast, elevations in MSAFP tend to be more readily linked to pregnancies where neural tube defects may be present. What this all means is that yes, these results could indicate the involvement of prenatal hormones and chromosomal issues in relation to 'some' autism, but science still needs to go a little way before anyone talks about a triple test being applied to autism (and the ethical issues that this might bring).I think it's also worthwhile briefly bringing in a few caveats to such pregnancy testing that could be pertinent to other autism research findings. As per other information, a mother's weight during pregnancy can affect what results you get - "Serum marker levels tend to be decreased in heavier women, and increased in lighter women." If you map this on to the research talking about maternal obesity linked to some autism (being careful not to generalise here), you can see how adjustments might have been / have to be made. Ethnicity is another factor that needs to be kept in mind. Also: "AFP and uE3 levels tend to be low (about 8% and 6% respectively) in women with insulin dependent diabetes mellitus." This is particularly interesting in view of the quite consistent literature detailing how gestational diabetes seems to show a connection to risk of offspring autism (see here). Various other factors (vaginal bleeding) can similarly affect results.The Windham results are nevertheless interesting and are strengthened somewhat by the large participant numbers included for study. That other groups have similarly talked about elevations in MSAFP in relation to autism [2] increases the confidence that there may something further to see in this area, at least for some autism.Music: Al Green - Tired of Being Alone.----------[1] Windham GC. et al. Autism Spectrum Disorder Risk in Relation to Maternal Mid-Pregnancy Serum Hormone and Protein Markers from Prenatal Screening in California. J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Sep 14.[2] Abdallah MW. et al. Autism spectrum disorders and maternal serum α-fetoprotein levels during pregnancy. Can J Psychiatry. 2011 Dec;56(12):727-34.----------Windham GC, Lyall K, Anderson M, & Kharrazi M (2015). Autism Spectrum Disorder Risk in Relation to Maternal Mid-Pregnancy Serum Hormone and Protein Markers from Prenatal Screening in California. Journal of autism and developmental disorders PMID: 26370672... Read more »

  • October 5, 2015
  • 06:48 PM

Gut bacteria population, diversity linked to anorexia nervosa

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine found that people with anorexia nervosa have very different microbial communities residing inside their guts compared to healthy individuals and that this bacterial imbalance is associated with some of the psychological symptoms related to the eating disorder.... Read more »

Kleiman, S., Watson, H., Bulik-Sullivan, E., Huh, E., Tarantino, L., Bulik, C., & Carroll, I. (2015) The Intestinal Microbiota in Acute Anorexia Nervosa and During Renourishment. Psychosomatic Medicine, 1. DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000247  

  • October 5, 2015
  • 04:12 PM

Weird colours of bones and teeth

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

I like making lists about living things. Colour is a great starting point for such lists, whether they're about body parts infected by microbes or the origins of science words. For this post, I'm going to look at how bones and teeth can take on a bunch of strange colours.The bones of the eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), a resident of trees dotting the eastern parts of Canada and the US, glow pink if you shine an ultraviolet light on them. This weirdness is due to uroporphyrin I, an intermediary in the multi-step pathway by which animals make heme. Heme is found in hemoglobin and enables red blood cells to transport oxygen. Unlike their relatives (at least as far as we know), most eastern fox squirrels have a condition called congenital erythropoietic porphyria (CEP). Essentially, this means one of the enzymes involved in heme manufacture is broken, causing production to stall at the uroporphyrin I step. Fox squirrels have a bunch of this molecule circulating inside them, and it builds up in their skeletons. CEP also occurs in other mammals including humans. Presumably they also have pink bones (I can't find anything to confirm this, which is a total bummer). Another interesting thing is people with CEP are typically very sick, yet fox squirrels seem to get along just fine with it.Several drugs and poisons can turn teeth and/or bones yellow. Being exposed to cadmium over a long period of time (e.g. working at a nickel-cadmium battery factory) can give you yellow teeth. Dogs dosed with thalidomide reportedly end up with yellow-green bones. Some folks even suspect eating a lot of carotene-rich foods such as carrots or sweet potatoes can turn your bones yellow. Yellow tetracycline antibiotics can cause teeth and bones to acquire a yellow-green-brown colour (one paper I read described it as khaki). This is usually seen in people who are exposed while in the womb or during early childhood. As they like to associate with calcium, tetracycline molecules tend to become stably incorporated into bone. They've been detected in skeletons from ancient Sudan and Egypt, a possible explanation being these populations ate food contaminated with tetracycline-producing bacteria. Bones containing tetracycline glow yellow-green under ultraviolet light.This yawning cat, with its yellow teeth, was given tetracycline at a young age (Source)Eating urchins can cause the bones and teeth of the sea otter (Enhydra lutris) to turn purple. This is likely due to their absorption of antioxidant polyhydroxynaphthoquinone pigments made by the urchins. By keeping populations of algae-eating urchins in check, sea otters help maintain the kelp forests of the northeastern Pacific Ocean.The colour of a bone can also be altered after death. Artifacts recovered in France dating back to the time of the Roman Empire include fragments of green bone crafted into pins and inlays. It's thought the bones were intentionally coloured by boiling them in a salty acidic solution using a copper container, which resulted in copper being deposited within the bone and turning it green. Blue bones belonging to small animals have been recovered from San Josecito Cave in Mexico. The composition of the bones was altered over the thousands of years they spent in the cave. Specifically, the colour change appears to have been brought about by heating following the incorporation of the metal manganese (oxidizing it to the Mn5+ valence state, which forms blue-coloured salts). This mechanism also appears to explain the origins of turquoise-like ivory (odontolite) acquired from deposits of fossilized mastodon teeth and used decoratively in the Middle Ages.ReferencesBoulos PR, Knoepp SM, Rubin PA. 2007. Green bone. Archives of Ophthalmology 125(3):380-386. [Full text]Chadefaux C, Vignaud C, Chalmin E, Robles-Camacho J, Arroyo-Cabrales J, Johnson E, Reiche I. 2009. Color origin and heat evidence of paleontological bones: Case study of blue and gray bones from San Josecito Cave, Mexico. American Mineralogist 94(1):27-33.Dooley Jr AC, Moncrief ND. 2012. Fluorescence provides evidence of congenital erythropoietic porphyria in 7000-year-old specimens of the eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) from the Devil's Den. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 32(2):495-497. [First page]Estes JA. 1980. Enhydra lutris. Mammalian Species 133:1-8. [Full text]Ferrand J et al. 2014. On the origin of the green colour of archaeological bone artefacts of the Gallo‐Roman Period. Archaeometry 56(6):1024-1040.... Read more »

  • October 5, 2015
  • 12:50 PM

This Month in Blastocystis Research (SEP 2015)

by Christen Rune Stensvold in Blastocystis Parasite Blog

Slightly delayed, the "This Month" post is mainly on Blastocystis survyes, detection and host specificity.... Read more »

Stensvold CR, Suresh GK, Tan KS, Thompson RC, Traub RJ, Viscogliosi E, Yoshikawa H, & Clark CG. (2007) Terminology for Blastocystis subtypes--a consensus. Trends in parasitology, 23(3), 93-6. PMID: 17241816  

Wang W, Cuttell L, Bielefeldt-Ohmann H, Inpankaew T, Owen H, & Traub RJ. (2013) Diversity of Blastocystis subtypes in dogs in different geographical settings. Parasites , 215. PMID: 23883734  

  • October 5, 2015
  • 08:29 AM

How do popular kids behave in a cooperative task with a classmate?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Popular girls showed more skilful leadership than others, popular boys showed less. In classrooms around the world, there's an unwritten hierarchy, with most of the kids knowing each other's standing in terms of popularity. Past psychology research has looked into the ways that children and teens attain this status, including the ability to influence their peers, either in skilful, sensitive ways or through coercion and manipulation. A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology takes a different approach by looking at how popular children, aged 11, behave when they participate in a one-on-one cooperative task with a randomly chosen classmate. Away from the eyes of the rest of the class, will they be rude and pushy, or show tact and leadership?Tessa Lansu and Antonius Cillessen recruited 218 eleven-year-old girls and boys from nine schools in middle-class communities to complete a cooperative task in same-sex pairs. The task required each pair of children to sit at a computer together and fill out a form about planning a classroom party, including making decisions about the time and date, and what snacks would be on offer. A webcam recorded the discussions which took about ten minutes. Before this, all the children had answered questions about who was the most and least popular child in their class. The researchers used these ratings to ascertain each child's overall popularity.Three judges coded the videos of the interactions for various behaviours, including skilful leadership (essentially when one child got the other one to follow their lead, but in a flexible way that took account of the other child's feelings and goals), overall influence, coercive or bossy behaviour and submissive behaviour.Perhaps the most striking finding was the sex difference that emerged: the more popular girls were with their class as a whole, the more skilful leadership they showed in the cooperative task with a single class-mate. By contrast, boys' class popularity was associated with their showing less skilful leadership in the task. Overall, peer popularity was a more significant factor in the girls' interactions than the boys, also being associated with their having more influence and showing less submissive behaviour.The researchers also looked at how a child's behaviour in the task was related to the popularity of their partner. Both girls and boys adopted a low profile when they were collaborating with a popular partner: they tended to avoid using coercion and any negative behaviour, suggesting they did not want to upset their popular classmate. "Interaction partners of high-status adolescents may keep a low profile because they are aware of the capabilities of the high-status influential peer," the researchers said. These results could also be interpreted the other way around, though, as showing that children were happier to bully and coerce classmates who were unpopular in class.This is a very new area of study and there were some issues with the methods, including the fact the people coding the videos of the interactions didn't always agree on the nature of the behaviours on display. Also, the data only speak to the relevance of class popularity to behaviour in same-sex partnerships, and to behaviour in a cooperative task, as opposed to a competitive task or other one-on-one situation. Still, these are fascinating results ripe for follow-up. For example, can the observed sex differences be explained by possible differences in the ways girls and boys attain popularity: boys using group-level leadership, girls juggling numerous one-on-one relationships?There could be practical insights here too. "If a teacher wants to promote assertiveness and leadership in a girl, having her work with a highly popular peer might not be the best option because the popular peer's reputation or behaviour could evoke submissive behaviour in the girl," the researchers said. "Instead, the teacher could pair her with an average-status peer, or maybe explicitly assign a more submissive role to the peer with whom she would be interacting, in order to promote the girl's assertiveness."_________________________________  Lansu, T., & Cillessen, A. (2015). Associations of group level popularity with observed behavior and influence in a dyadic context Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 140, 92-104 DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.06.016 --further reading--A child's popularity is related to where the teacher seats them in the classroomWhat happens to the cool kids when they grow up?Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.Our free fortnightly email will keep you up-to-date with all the psychology research we digest: Sign up!

... Read more »

  • October 5, 2015
  • 07:02 AM

Is there an effective strategy that reduces a conspiracy  theorist’s intense beliefs?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

According to new research with a large sample from all across the United States, the answer is yes! If you have read this blog for long, you know we love a good conspiracy theorist and use their idiosyncratic associations in pretrial research to plug holes in case narratives. The researchers briefly review the past literature […]

Related posts:
Conspiracy beliefs and the relation to emotional uncertainty
Would you get sucked in to conspiracy theories?
Think conspiracy theorists live on the fringes? Think again!

... Read more »

  • October 5, 2015
  • 02:34 AM

The ASQ-3 and autism screening: has the UK already started?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Can Screening with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire Detect Autism?' was the research question posed and partially answered in the paper by Sarah Hardy and colleagues [1] recently.Drawing on data from a very healthy sized cohort (~2800 toddlers) who were "screened with the ASQ-3 [Ages and Stages Questionnaire] and M-CHAT-R across 20 pediatric sites" in the United States, researchers suggested that there may be more to see when it comes to the use of ASQ-3 and the complicated topic of early autism screening.These are interesting if preliminary results. As many parents here in Blighty might have recently realised, there have been some changes to the health visitor visits that accompany raising young children in this day and age. The introduction of the ASQ-3 to the Healthy Child Programme this year (2015) represents a bit of a departure from sole reliance on the PCHR as a means of logging developmental milestones and other information.Assuming that the Hardy results can be replicated, particularly the idea that: "Scores below the "monitor" cutoff on the Communication domain of the ASQ-3 can indicate initial concern requiring autism-specific follow-up", one wonders whether the UK Government might have just knowingly (or unknowingly) initiated a mass autism screening program?Music: James Morrison - Demons.----------[1] Hardy S. et al. Can Screening with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire Detect Autism? J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2015 Sep;36(7):536-43. ----------Hardy S, Haisley L, Manning C, & Fein D (2015). Can Screening with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire Detect Autism? Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP, 36 (7), 536-43 PMID: 26348972... Read more »

Hardy S, Haisley L, Manning C, & Fein D. (2015) Can Screening with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire Detect Autism?. Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP, 36(7), 536-43. PMID: 26348972  

  • October 4, 2015
  • 09:51 PM

Saving brains: malaria in pregnancy leads to cognitive deficits in offspring

by Betty Zou in Eat, Read, Science

A new study in PLoS Pathogens uses an experimental malaria in pregnancy model to show that malaria during pregnancy induces learning and memory impairments and depressive-like behaviour in offspring. The researchers show that the deficits are dependent on complement activation and provide the first evidence for a causal link between malaria in pregnancy, complement activation and neurodevelopment.... Read more »

  • October 4, 2015
  • 05:36 PM

History of Cataloguing. 2. Jewett

by Anne Welsh in Library Marginalia

The second in a series on the History of Cataloguing, this post highlights OCLC's news that they will no longer be printing catalogue cards and provides an insight into Charles Coffin Jewett's suggestion that shared cataloguing be undertaken, led by the Smithsonian Institution in the mid-nineteenth century.... Read more »

Charles Coffin Jewett. (1853) On the Construction of Catalogues of Libraries, and their Publication by Means of Separate, Stereotyped Titles, with Rules and Examples. 2nd ed. Hathi Trust Digital Library. info:/

  • October 4, 2015
  • 02:01 PM

Exercise Pills May Benefit Those Unable To Exercise

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Prof. Ismail Laher Department of Anesthesiology Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics Faculty of Medicine University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Laher: There … Continue reading →
The post Exercise Pills May Benefit Those Unable To Exercise appeared first on
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Prof. Ismail Laher. (2015) Exercise Pills May Benefit Those Unable To Exercise. info:/

  • October 4, 2015
  • 01:39 PM

Brain networking: behind the cognitive control of thoughts

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The human brain does not come with an operating manual. However, a group of scientists have developed a way to convert structural brain imaging techniques into “wiring diagrams” of connections between brain regions. Three researchers from UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences — Michael Miller, Scott Grafton and Matt Cieslak — used the structure of neural networks to reveal the fundamental rules that govern which parts of the brain are most able to exert cognitive control over thoughts and actions.... Read more »

Gu, S., Pasqualetti, F., Cieslak, M., Telesford, Q., Yu, A., Kahn, A., Medaglia, J., Vettel, J., Miller, M., Grafton, S.... (2015) Controllability of structural brain networks. Nature Communications, 8414. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9414  

  • October 4, 2015
  • 08:08 AM

Recurrence Rates Fall For In-Situ Ductal Breast Cancer

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Kimberly J. Van Zee, MD, FACS Surgical oncologist Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Medical Research: Why is this study important? Dr. Van Zee: It is very important because the 4 large studies that randomized women with DCIS to radiation … Continue reading →
The post Recurrence Rates Fall For In-Situ Ductal Breast Cancer appeared first on
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Kimberly J. Van Zee, MD, FACS. (2015) Recurrence Rates Fall For In-Situ Ductal Breast Cancer. info:/

  • October 4, 2015
  • 12:53 AM

Can Mindful Dishwashing Reduce Nervousness?

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Adam Hanley Doctoral candidate College of Education’s Counseling/School Psychology program Florida State University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study emerged from the intersection of my personal dislike … Continue reading →
The post Can Mindful Dishwashing Reduce Nervousness? appeared first on
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Adam Hanley. (2015) Can Mindful Dishwashing Reduce Nervousness?. info:/

  • October 3, 2015
  • 02:21 PM

Can exercise be replaced with a pill?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Everyone knows that exercise improves health, and ongoing research continues to uncover increasingly detailed information on its benefits for metabolism, circulation, and improved functioning of organs such as the heart, brain, and liver. With this knowledge in hand, scientists may be better equipped to develop “exercise pills” that could mimic at least some of the beneficial effects of physical exercise on the body. But a review of current development efforts ponders whether such pills will achieve their potential therapeutic impact, at least in the near future.... Read more »

Laher, & et al. (2015) Exercise Pills: At the Starting Line?. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. info:/

  • October 3, 2015
  • 03:39 AM

One more time... the interpregnancy interval and risk of offspring autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children born after an IPI [interpregnancy interval] of <12 months or ≥72 months had a 2- to 3-fold increased ASD [autism spectrum disorder] risk compared with children born after an interval of 36 to 47 months."So said the study results published by Ousseny Zerbo and colleagues [1] looking at the increasingly interesting area of the autism research landscape: the interpregnancy interval (the time from the birth of an index child to the next conception/pregnancy of a sibling).Looking at data derived from children "born at Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) between 2000 and 2009", researchers examined the IPI to evaluate the risk of ASD in second-born children. Various hazard ratios (HRs) are reported based on the spacing between children: "<6 months, 3.0 (1.9–4.7); 6 to 8 months, 2.1 (1.4–3.3); 9 to 11 months, 1.9 (1.3–2.1); 12 to 23 months, 1.5 (1.1–2.1); and ≥72 months, 2.4 (1.5–3.7)." Following a sort of U-shaped response curve and taking into account various factors that may potentially impact on offspring autism risk, researchers concluded that: "Children born after interpregnancy intervals <2 years or >6 years may be at increased risk of ASD."Whilst the Zerbo findings have attracted some media attention (see here and see here) it is not necessarily new news that the IPI might show some connection to offspring autism risk. I've covered the topic on at least two other occasions on this blog (see here and see here) outside of other research suggesting similar things [2]. The findings are fairly robust and importantly, seem to cross different geographies and different ethnicities, suggesting that the IPI might be something generalisable to autism across the globe.As per my other musings on this topic, there are several possibilities as to how a short (or long) IPI might impact on offspring autism risk, mainly associated with more general research on how IPI might influence various birth outcomes (albeit with caveats [3]). Having watched the recent BBC series called 'Countdown to Life' documenting the nine months that made us, I'm particularly interested in the idea that there may be more than one mechanism at work depending on the IPI. Specifically, whether a short IPI where the greatest HR was reported by Zerbo, might be related to a depletion of maternal stores of various micronutrients (the authors have talked about folate although I'd be careful there, indeed very careful there [4]) that comes with pregnancy and David Barker style (see here) whether intrauterine health might be a factor in the elevated risk?Music, and something a little 'cool' today: The Specials And Fun Boy Three - Our Lips Are Sealed (complete with a sample of the Go-Go's).----------[1] Zerbo O. et al. Interpregnancy Interval and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Pediatrics. 2015. Sept 14.[2] Coo H. et al. The association between the interpregnancy interval and autism spectrum disorder in a Canadian cohort. Can J Public Health. 2015 Feb 3;106(2):e36-42.[3] Ball SJ. et al. Re-evaluation of link between interpregnancy interval and adverse birth outcomes: retrospective cohort study matching two intervals per mother. BMJ. 2014; 349: g4333.[4] Virk J. et al. Preconceptional and prenatal supplementary folic acid and multivitamin intake and autism spectrum disorders. Autism. 2015 Sep 25. pii: 1362361315604076.----------Zerbo, O., Yoshida, C., Gunderson, E., Dorward, K., & Croen, L. (2015). Interpregnancy Interval and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders PEDIATRICS DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-1099... Read more »

Zerbo, O., Yoshida, C., Gunderson, E., Dorward, K., & Croen, L. (2015) Interpregnancy Interval and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders. PEDIATRICS. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-1099  

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