Questioning Answers

Visit Blog Website

1230 posts · 723,659 views

Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
1,230 posts

Sort by: Latest Post, Most Popular

View by: Condensed, Full

  • August 14, 2012
  • 09:17 PM

Propionic acid and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Another post, another organic acid (!) but please don't click away just yet as I attempt once again not to blind you with science. The topic of the day today is propionic acid (PPA) otherwise known as propanoic acid and the very tentative suggestions of some link to autism. Search on-line for propionic acid and you're quite likely to get lots of industrial chemical information about it including a materials safety data sheet (MSDS) (here) implying that this stuff is toxic, combust........ Read more »

  • August 16, 2012
  • 06:54 AM

Are gut problems in autism linked to anxiety and sensory issues?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'd been waiting to get hold of the recent article by Dr Micah Mazurek and colleagues titled: Anxiety, sensory over-responsivity, and gastrointestinal problems in children with autism spectrum disorders* (abstract here) for quite a few days before posting about it.This paper was always going to catch my eye given the focus on gastrointestinal (GI) problems comorbid to cases of autism. That and the authors connecting issues with anxiety and sensory issues to the presence of such functional G........ Read more »

Mazurek MO, Vasa RA, Kalb LG, Kanne SM, Rosenberg D, Keefer A, Murray DS, Freedman B, & Lowery LA. (2012) Anxiety, Sensory Over-Responsivity, and Gastrointestinal Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of abnormal child psychology. PMID: 22850932  

  • October 8, 2012
  • 11:02 AM

Vitamin D deficiency and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Vitamin D3 @ Wikipedia I have no hesitation in admitting to being more than a little bit "obsessive" about my data capture and the volumes of lovely, yummy science-y research alerts it produces. Indeed quite a bit of said research ends up as fodder for this and its sister blogs but most in the Twitter onslaught which my poor followers have to endure. Yes, I am probably addicted to information (but better this than other vices).One of my alerts is based on the various collected works be........ Read more »

Berkovitz S, Ambler G, Jenkins M, & Thurgood S. (2009) Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels in chronic fatigue syndrome: a retrospective survey. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin- und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition, 79(4), 250-4. PMID: 20209476  

  • October 28, 2012
  • 04:12 PM

Cerebral palsy and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I seem to keep saying this but one of the many important things about autism is that the diagnosis of autism has not yet been found to be protective against other conditions occurring alongside. This is probably not new news to many as per the comorbities which have been, and continue to be found in cases of autism; recognised even by official guidance on autism (see here).Importantly however in recent times, more attention is being directed to the overlap of autism with other conditions an........ Read more »

Surén P, Bakken IJ, Aase H, Chin R, Gunnes N, Lie KK, Magnus P, Reichborn-Kjennerud T, Schjølberg S, Øyen AS.... (2012) Autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy in Norwegian children. Pediatrics, 130(1). PMID: 22711729  

  • August 23, 2012
  • 08:45 AM

De novo mutations, older dads and autism (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Those with an interest in autism (and/or schizophrenia) will have probably already seen the headlines discussing the study by Augustine Kong and colleagues* on  the rate of de novo genetic mutations and a father's age as being potentially important for conditions like autism and schizophrenia. For those like me who are still struggling with all things mutation, quite a nice summary of the current research is offered in this Nature commentary accompanying the study.I'm going to briefly focus........ Read more »

Augustine Kong,, Michael L. Frigge,, Gisli Masson,, Soren Besenbacher,, Patrick Sulem,, Gisli Magnusson,, Sigurjon A. Gudjonsson,, Asgeir Sigurdsson,, Aslaug Jonasdottir,, Adalbjorg Jonasdottir,.... (2012) Rate of de novo mutations and the importance of father’s age to disease risk. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature11396  

  • July 18, 2012
  • 05:39 AM

Anxious children and autism traits?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm always been quite intrigued by studies examining the various behaviours linked to autism presenting in other conditions not necessarily linked to autism as a discrete entity. The various studies done on eating disorders* spring to mind as quite a good example.This type of research - when it shows some positive correlation - kinda reiterates that when we talk about autism, we aren't so much talking about a single homogeneous condition, but perhaps rather a range of conditions which share some........ Read more »

van Steensel FJ, Bögels SM, & Wood JJ. (2012) Autism Spectrum Traits in Children with Anxiety Disorders. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 22733297  

  • September 26, 2012
  • 08:07 AM

Glycine as a sleep aid?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Sleeping beauty @ Paul WhiteleyWhen it comes to sleep and autism, or more specifically suggestions on how to improve sleeping patterns and sleep duration in cases of childhood autism, one compound crops up time and time again: melatonin.I've talked about melatonin quite a bit on this blog; running through the current evidence for effect (here) and also speculatively discussing some of the ways and means that melatonin is made (here) and where the various findings on alterations in levels of the ........ Read more »

  • July 13, 2012
  • 08:37 AM

Brain glutathione redox status, Brussels sprouts and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Sprouts, sprouts, sprouts @ WikipediaGlutathione in relation to autism spectrum conditions is a bit of a favourite topic of mine. I've talked about glutathione a few times on this blog (here and here) and how the various reports on a reduced level of functioning of this fantastic part of our antioxidant system seem to show more than a passing connection to cases of autism. That and the fact that consumption of a favourite foodstuff of mine, the Brussels sprout, might have quite a positive influe........ Read more »

  • March 4, 2013
  • 08:35 AM

Vitamin B12 and autism: more to do

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The short report by Malhotra and colleagues* linking a case of the regressive condition childhood disintegrative disorder, CDD (otherwise known as Heller's syndrome) with vitamin B12 deficiency and hyperhomocysteinemia has grabbed my attention.Malhotra et al report that following the identification of said nutritional issues, supplementation with vitamin B12 and a few other nutrients, seemed to correlate with some improvements in the 14 year old at the centre of this paper, accord........ Read more »

  • February 24, 2013
  • 08:14 AM

Memantine and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

As part of their review of autism research in 2012, the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (shortened to the very catchy SFARI) had an interesting blogpost on all things drug development with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in mind.It was an interesting entry insofar as they had categorised the various medicines potentially indicated for some of the symptoms of ASD according to the stage of drug development including some formulations that have previously been fodder for this blog........ Read more »

  • September 13, 2012
  • 05:49 AM

MTHFR and autism reloaded

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

MTHFR @ Paul WhiteleyI've talked before about the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, or MTHFR to its friends, and the suggested link with autism.A few points are worth remembering:MTHFR serves a primary function in reducing the compound 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. On a grander scale, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, the reduced and methylated form of folic acid, is an important methyl group donor for the recycling of homocysteine back to meth........ Read more »

  • July 12, 2012
  • 08:20 AM

Autism and the family tree

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A blog post discussing the suggestion that a family history of schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder may be a risk factor for autism... Read more »

  • August 20, 2012
  • 06:26 AM

Autism and microglia

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

An interesting paper has appeared by Beumer and colleagues* with the grandiose title: The immune theory of psychiatric diseases: a key role for activated microglia and circulating monocytes. It's an intriguing paper linking specific actions of the immune system on brain areas in connection to various conditions including depression and schizophrenia via a biological entity that seems to be gaining some research interest: microglia.On the basis of this publication I therefore resis........ Read more »

  • August 17, 2012
  • 07:44 AM

Vitamin D and autoimmunity and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Heavens above @ Paul WhiteleyThey're at it again. The very marvellous Saudi-Egyptian autism research tag-team that is Gehan Mostafa and Laila Al-Ayadhi and another very, very interesting article titled: Reduced serum concentrations of 25-hydroxy vitamin D in children with autism: relation to autoimmunity* (full-text here).I'd kinda been waiting for an article like this to come along given the shifting Eye of Sauron onto a possible role for the sunshine vitamin in cases of autism. You can fi........ Read more »

  • June 1, 2017
  • 04:43 AM

Differentiating between autism and ADHD the machine learning way (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

So: "These results support the potential of creating a quick, accurate and widely accessible method for differentiating risks between ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."That was a conclusion reached in the paper by Marlena Duda and colleagues [1] (open-access) building on their previous foray into this important research area (see here). Last time around [2] this research group - the Duda/Wall et al research combination - set t........ Read more »

  • December 11, 2012
  • 07:49 AM

GcMAF, nagalase and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I think it might be worth starting this blog post with (a) reference to my very well-trodden caveat of not making any medical recommendations on this blog and (b) a little bit of a description of some of the key terms connected with the paper by Jeff Bradstree and colleagues* (open-access) on nagalase, GcMAF and autism bearing in mind my amateur status in this area. I might also add, don't shoot the messenger.I'm the big eater @ Wikipedia  Macrophages. It all begins with monocytes, whi........ Read more »

James Jeffrey Bradstreet, Emar Vogelaar, & Lynda Thyer. (2012) Initial observations of elevated alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminidase activity associated with autism and observed reductions from GC protein—macrophage activating factor injections. Autism Insights. info:/

  • November 16, 2012
  • 08:40 AM

Putting Money on autoimmunity and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Go to Jail, go directly to jail... @ Wikipedia  I owe a debt of gratitude to Natasa who brought me to the very short and very pay-walled communication by McDougle & Carlezon* discussing neuroinflammation and autism. Whilst the open-accessing of research is seemingly discussed in bulk these days, we are not quite there yet in making science free and accessible to all hence I can't refer you to the full-text paper at this time unfortunately.No mind, the McDougle communication is brief but........ Read more »

Money J, Bobrow NA, & Clarke FC. (1971) Autism and autoimmune disease: a family study. Journal of autism and childhood schizophrenia, 1(2), 146-60. PMID: 5172389  

  • September 2, 2012
  • 06:16 AM

C1q activation and schizophrenia

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The Doorman @ WikipediaI'm back to schizophrenia with this post based on another very interesting paper by Dr Emily Severance and colleagues* describing some of the potential ins and outs of C1q activation, diet and immune function.Regular readers of this blog might remember the last offering from Dr Severence et al on gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation and immune activation in cases of schizophrenia (see here**). The net finding suggesting that inflammation might tie into permeability of the GI........ Read more »

Severance EG, Gressitt K, Halling M, Stallings CR, Origoni AE, Vaughan C, Khushalani S, Alaedini A, Dupont D, Dickerson FB.... (2012) Complement C1q formation of immune complexes with milk caseins and wheat glutens in schizophrenia. Neurobiology of disease. PMID: 22801085  

  • August 10, 2012
  • 10:38 AM

Folate and autism: more questions than answers

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Athenian sunset @ Paul WhiteleyI don't know if you could tell but my previous few blog posts were a sort of stand-in whilst I took a few days off. Not exactly repeats of favourite soap operas or anything like that, but more like watching some pre-recorded non-league football (soccer) compared to the Premiership live. Suffice to say that I'm back now and ready to press on with some 'proper' posts.Whilst away I've been thinking quite a bit about the paper from Rebecca Schmidt and colleagues* ........ Read more »

  • September 30, 2012
  • 05:49 AM

Pets win (prosocial) prizes?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Miss Ellie Dog @WikipediaPets have never really been a great part of my childhood it has to be said. Aside from a cat allergy which sort of ruled out any would-be Top Cat staying at ours, the family home just wasn't graced with enough space to accommodate other animal companions.I did have a goldfish called George for a short period of time; that is until he/she(?) passed away and went to the great WC in the sky. Sad memories indeed.This lack of animal contact during my childhood is probably why........ Read more »

Grandgeorge M, Tordjman S, Lazartigues A, Lemonnier E, Deleau M, & Hausberger M. (2012) Does pet arrival trigger prosocial behaviors in individuals with autism?. PloS one, 7(8). PMID: 22870246  

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SRI Technology.

To learn more, visit