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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
582 posts

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  • May 2, 2015
  • 04:03 AM
  • 40 views

Healthcare experiences and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In today's brief post I want to highlight the important findings reported by Christina Nicolaidis and colleagues [1] who suggested that quite a bit more could be done to improve the success of "healthcare interactions" when it comes to the autism spectrum.Based on the experiences of 39 adults with autism and "16 people who had experience supporting autistic adults in healthcare settings" researchers came up with a few "patient- and provider-level factors" that might impact on said heal........ Read more »

  • May 1, 2015
  • 05:00 AM
  • 55 views

Severe mental illness and victims of crime

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In conclusion, victimisation among people with SMI [severe mental illness] is more prevalent and associated with greater psychosocial morbidity than victimisation among the general population."That was the finding reported by Hind Khalifeh and colleagues [1] (open-access here) following their analysis of "the prevalence and impact of crime among people with SMI compared with the general population." SMI, by the way, covered various labels including: "people with psychotic disorde........ Read more »

Khalifeh H, Johnson S, Howard LM, Borschmann R, Osborn D, Dean K, Hart C, Hogg J, & Moran P. (2015) Violent and non-violent crime against adults with severe mental illness. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science. PMID: 25698767  

  • April 30, 2015
  • 04:27 AM
  • 58 views

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder is not increasing in childhood

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The title of this post is an excerpt from the paper by Sebastian Lundström and colleagues [1] (open-access) who set out to "compare the annual prevalence of the autism symptom phenotype and of registered diagnoses for autism spectrum disorder during a 10 year period in children" living in Sweden. Based on two datasets - the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden and the Swedish national patient register (NPR) - researchers analysed the records of well over a million ........ Read more »

  • April 29, 2015
  • 04:41 AM
  • 53 views

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) core sets for autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is a framework for describing and organising information on functioning and disability. It provides a standard language and a conceptual basis for the definition and measurement of health and disability."That is the US CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - definition of the ICF (from WHO) and how, among other things, the ICF offers a "scientific basis for understanding and studying health an........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2015
  • 04:36 AM
  • 69 views

Melatonin and leaky gut continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper from Garth Swanson and colleagues [1] reporting findings suggesting that "suppression of melatonin in AD [alcohol use disorder] may promote gut leakiness and endotoxemia" make for the discussion point today.Continuing a theme from previous times on this blog that "melatonin may serve important gastrointestinal barrier functions" [2] and specifically those related to the concept of intestinal permeability and the so-called 'leaky gut' (see here), these are potentially imp........ Read more »

Swanson GR, Gorenz A, Shaikh M, Desai V, Forsyth CB, Fogg L, Burgess HJ, & Keshavarzian A. (2015) Decreased Melatonin Secretion is Associated with Increased Intestinal Permeability and Marker of Endotoxemia in Alcoholics. American journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology. PMID: 25907689  

  • April 27, 2015
  • 04:36 AM
  • 63 views

When optimal outcome in autism meets ESSENCE

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I recently came across the paper by Martina Barnevik Olsson and colleagues [1] (open-access) and their rather interesting take on the issue of optimal outcome and autism (see here for some background on this concept).Based on the idea that a diagnosis of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) might not be as immutable as perhaps once thought (as in 'no longer meeting the diagnostic criteria for the condition'), Barnevik Olsson et al reported that loss of the autism/ASD label does not........ Read more »

Barnevik Olsson, M., Westerlund, J., Lundström, S., Giacobini, M., Fernell, E., & Gillberg, C. (2015) “Recovery” from the diagnosis of autism – and then?. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 999. DOI: 10.2147/NDT.S78707  

  • April 25, 2015
  • 03:27 AM
  • 72 views

Kids with autism: a highly [psychotropic] medicated group?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In keeping with international studies this sample of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] was a highly medicated group."So said the results of the study reported by Kerry-Ann Louw and colleagues [1] back in 2013 who noted that approximately one quarter of their cohort were currently in receipt of "psychotropic medications". I don't want to linger too much on this topic given that such findings tally with other peer-reviewed reports including those with much larger partici........ Read more »

  • April 24, 2015
  • 04:44 AM
  • 80 views

DSM-5 impacting on autism numbers

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Consistent with previous reviews, the majority of included studies indicated between 50 and 75 % of individuals will maintain diagnoses."That was one of the conclusions reached by Isaac Smith and colleagues [1] following their systematic review of studies comparing DSM-IV and DSM-5 criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and what the changes mean for eligibility for the label.Authors further reported that: "the greatest decreases [were] among high-functioning populations with IQs over ........ Read more »

  • April 23, 2015
  • 01:46 AM
  • 90 views

Does maternal asthma 'prime' for offspring neurodevelopmental disorder?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper from Jared Schwartzer and colleagues [1] (open-access) including a couple of familiar names on the authorship list (Charity Onore and Paul Ashwood) caught my attention recently. Based on mouse studies and the artificial induction of maternal allergy/asthma in pregnant mice, researchers reported that: "Activation of the maternal immune system with an allergy/asthma insult significantly perturbed developmental growth and species-typical behaviors in offspring." Further that the........ Read more »

  • April 22, 2015
  • 04:39 AM
  • 77 views

MMR vaccine was not associated with increased risk of autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In this large sample of privately insured children with older siblings, receipt of the MMR [measles-mumps-rubella] vaccine was not associated with increased risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder], regardless of whether older siblings had ASD. These findings indicate no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Anjali Jain and colleagues [1] (open-access) based on........ Read more »

  • April 21, 2015
  • 04:31 AM
  • 81 views

Jessica Biesiekierski on non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

It's not often that I dedicate a blog post to a specific individual and their views and opinions on a particular topic. Today however, I'm doing just that to provide you with a link to the paper from Jessica Biesiekierski on the topic of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) [1] (open-access).The reason? Well, aside from being one of the primary protagonists in the research topic of gluten-related ills outside of the autoimmune condition known as coeliac (celiac) disease (itself the to........ Read more »

Biesiekierski, J., & Iven, J. (2015) Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity: piecing the puzzle together. United European Gastroenterology Journal, 3(2), 160-165. DOI: 10.1177/2050640615578388  

  • April 20, 2015
  • 04:51 AM
  • 90 views

Tics are common in adults with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The title of this post comes from a quote included in the paper by Ursula Kahl and colleagues [1] based on their study of the "phenomenology and characteristics" of tics in adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with a small control group of adults with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS). A tic by the way, is a "sudden, fast, repeated movement or sound."This is not the first time that tics have been examined with the autism spectrum in mind. The paper from C........ Read more »

Kahl, U., Schunke, O., Schöttle, D., David, N., Brandt, V., Bäumer, T., Roessner, V., Münchau, A., & Ganos, C. (2015) Tic Phenomenology and Tic Awareness in Adults With Autism. Movement Disorders Clinical Practice. DOI: 10.1002/mdc3.12154  

  • April 18, 2015
  • 05:22 AM
  • 110 views

Autistic traits in adult-onset psychiatric disorders?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"To conclude, the presentation of ALTs [autistic-like traits/symptoms] at the sub-threshold or threshold level may be closely associated with BPD [bipolar disorder] and SZ [schizophrenia]."That was the conclusion reached in the paper by Junko Matsuo and colleagues [1] (open-access here) based on their analysis of nearly 300 adults aged between 25-59 years including those diagnosed with "MDD [major depressive disorder], n=125; bipolar disorder, n=56; schizophrenia,&n........ Read more »

Matsuo J, Kamio Y, Takahashi H, Ota M, Teraishi T, Hori H, Nagashima A, Takei R, Higuchi T, Motohashi N.... (2015) Autistic-Like Traits in Adult Patients with Mood Disorders and Schizophrenia. PloS one, 10(4). PMID: 25838109  

  • April 17, 2015
  • 03:52 AM
  • 100 views

Higher cancer mortality rates associated with mental illness

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Steve Kisely and colleagues [1] were of some interest recently and their assertion that despite cancer incidence being "the same as the general population for most psychiatric disorders" or even slightly reduced when a diagnosis of schizophrenia was for example received, mortality due to cancer was "increased in psychiatric patients."Such findings were based on their examination of: "Mental health records [that] were linked with cancer registrations and death r........ Read more »

  • April 16, 2015
  • 05:21 AM
  • 90 views

Paternal sperm epigenetic differences and offspring autism risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"These data suggest that epigenetic differences in paternal sperm may contribute to autism risk in offspring."So said the preliminary study results published by Jason Feinberg and colleagues [1]  (open-access) looking at "paternal semen biosamples obtained from an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) enriched-risk pregnancy cohort, the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) cohort." Researchers analysed 44 semen samples to ascertain whether DNA methylation differences - one typ........ Read more »

Jason I Feinberg, Kelly M Bakulski, Andrew E Jaffe, Rakel Tryggvadottir, Shannon C Brown, Lynn R Goldman, Lisa A Croen, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Craig J Newschaffer, M Daniele Fallin.... (2015) Paternal sperm DNA methylation associated with early signs of autism risk in an autism-enriched cohort. International Journal of Epidemiology. info:/10.1093/ije/dyv028

  • April 15, 2015
  • 03:31 AM
  • 90 views

Maternal diabetes and offspring autism risk... again

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In this large, multiethnic clinical cohort of singleton children born at 28 to 44 weeks’ gestation, exposure to maternal GDM [gestational diabetes mellitus] diagnosed by 26 weeks’ gestation was associated with risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] in offspring."That was the conclusion reached by Anny Xiang and colleagues [1] (open-access) following their analysis of some 3300 children diagnosed with ASD as part of a wider cohort of over 300,000 children "born in 19........ Read more »

Xiang, A., Wang, X., Martinez, M., Walthall, J., Curry, E., Page, K., Buchanan, T., Coleman, K., & Getahun, D. (2015) Association of Maternal Diabetes With Autism in Offspring. JAMA, 313(14), 1425. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2015.2707  

  • April 14, 2015
  • 04:08 AM
  • 112 views

Immune signature in ME/CFS detected in cerebrospinal fluid

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The research tag-team that is Mady Hornig and Ian Lipkin are fairly frequently mentioned on this blog. If it's not to do with their studies in autism research (see here for a recent mention) it is with their ground-breaking work looking at chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) in mind (see here for example).Indeed their latest paper [1] extends some recent findings (see here) on immune involvement in relation to CFS/ME [2] with a focus on examinations in cerebrospinal flu........ Read more »

  • April 13, 2015
  • 01:38 AM
  • 110 views

Interoception and body awareness in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Interoception: the sense of the physiological condition of the body" [1].This was an important concept detailed in the paper by Lisa Fiene and Charlotte Brownlow [2] with autism in mind. Looking at how adults diagnosed with an ASD (autism spectrum disorder) "interpret elements of the interoceptive sense, which includes thirst, hunger, temperature, satiety" researchers questioned those on the spectrum (n=74) and asymptomatic controls (n=228) with "self-reported perceptions of body awareness........ Read more »

  • April 10, 2015
  • 05:48 AM
  • 146 views

More ophthalmic findings in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Ophthalmic pathology was noted in 26.9 % of patients with ASD [autism spectrum disorder], of which 22 % had significant refractive errors and 8.6 % had strabismus."That was the conclusion reached in the paper by Emrah Utku Kabatas and colleagues [1] based on the premise that: "Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) frequently have ophthalmologic disorders"; that is, issues with the anatomy and function of the eyes.We've been here before. I'll take you back to the post that I wr........ Read more »

Kabatas EU, Ozer PA, Ertugrul GT, Kurtul BE, Bodur S, & Alan BE. (2015) Initial Ophthalmic Findings in Turkish Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 25800865  

  • April 9, 2015
  • 03:31 AM
  • 138 views

Effects of prenatal organophosphate pesticide exposure on a mouse model of autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Pesticides and autism is a topic previously covered on this blog (see here for example). The idea that some of the various preparations that we use to control the pests which have an ability to blight our crops or cause serious health issues could be linked to an increased risk of autism is an area likely to invoke some divisions within elements of the autism and wider scientific community.Part of the problem with the available evidence suggesting a link between autism and pesticide exposure is ........ Read more »

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