Paul Whiteley

999 posts · 475,102 views

Autism research, research blogging and health science stuff (picture is accurate)

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  • August 30, 2016
  • 03:47 AM
  • 25 views

A prenatal 'unhealthy' diet and offspring ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Scientists study link between unhealthy pregnancy diet and ADHD' went one media headline covering the paper by Jolien Rijlaarsdam and colleagues [1].The name of the research game was again to draw on data derived from ALSPAC (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) (yes, again) to look-see "the degree to which prenatal high-fat and -sugar diet might relate to ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] symptoms via IGF2 DNA methylation for early-onset persistent (EOP........ Read more »

  • August 29, 2016
  • 03:37 AM
  • 26 views

The ketogenic diet and the BTBRT Tf/J mouse model of autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was rather interested to read the findings reported by Richelle Mychasiuk & Jong Rho [1] suggesting that the expression of certain genes might be affected by adoption of a ketogenic diet in one of the more familiar mouse models of autism (the BTBRT+Tf/J 'dangermouse').The ketogenic diet (KD), consisting of "a high-fat low-carbohydrate anti-seizure and neuroprotective diet" has been of some interest to autism research over the years (see here). Its potential usefulness has also been explore........ Read more »

  • August 27, 2016
  • 05:05 AM
  • 74 views

On autism spectrum disorder [research] validity

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Today I'm directing your reading attention to a really, really interesting paper by Lynn Waterhouse and colleagues [1] (open-access) whose review findings suggest that: "the ASD [autism spectrum disorder] diagnosis lacks biological and construct validity."The paper is a bit of a long read but most definitely worth it as the quite complicated subject of exactly what goal the label of autism actually serves is discussed. The results of various questions posed by the authors suggest: "No ........ Read more »

Waterhouse, L., London, E., & Gillberg, C. (2016) ASD Validity. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. DOI: 10.1007/s40489-016-0085-x  

  • August 26, 2016
  • 03:38 AM
  • 64 views

What does the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) actually measure?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Higher AQ [Autism Spectrum Quotient] scores were associated with higher scores of loneliness, social anxiety, depression, and anxiety, as well as with lower scores of quality of life (QoL)."Those were some of the key findings reported by Phil Reed and colleagues [1] who used the very popular 'are you autistic?' AQ screening tool to look at the presence of autistic traits "along with depression, anxiety, loneliness, quality of life, and social anxiety" in a University student cohort (N........ Read more »

  • August 25, 2016
  • 03:45 AM
  • 88 views

Hospitalisation for infection and risk of death by suicide

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"An increased risk of death by suicide was found among individuals hospitalized with infection in prospective and dose-response relationships. These findings indicate that infections may have a relevant role in the pathophysiological mechanisms of suicidal behavior."Some intriguing data has been recently reported by Helene Lund-Sørensen and colleagues [1] (open-access) examining the possibility that certain types of infection (or perhaps the biological response to infection) might inc........ Read more »

  • August 24, 2016
  • 04:13 AM
  • 103 views

ALSPAC says maybe to link between prenatal paracetamol exposure and childhood behavioural difficulties

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

ALSPAC - the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children - continues to give in research terms as today I approach the findings reported by Evie Stergiakouli and colleagues [1]. They observed that: "Children exposed to acetaminophen [paracetamol] prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties, and the associations do not appear to be explained by unmeasured behavioral or social factors linked to acetaminophen use insofar as they are not observed........ Read more »

  • August 23, 2016
  • 03:47 AM
  • 104 views

Autism and/or ADHD in Down's syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"High rates of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] were found: 17 (42%) and 14 (34%) of the 41 children met DSM criteria for ASD and ADHD respectively."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Ulrika Oxelgren and colleagues [1] looking at the "prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in a population-based group of children and adolescents with Down syndrome." The populatio........ Read more »

Oxelgren UW, Myrelid Å, Annerén G, Ekstam B, Göransson C, Holmbom A, Isaksson A, Åberg M, Gustafsson J, & Fernell E. (2016) Prevalence of autism and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder in Down syndrome: a population-based study. Developmental medicine and child neurology. PMID: 27503703  

  • August 22, 2016
  • 05:17 AM
  • 117 views

"Theory of mind is not theory of emotion"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A rather interesting paper by Beth Oakley and colleagues [1] (open-access might be available here) appeared recently providing a "cautionary note on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test" [2], one of the premier assessments thought to offer a performance-based measure "involving mental state attribution and complex facial emotion recognition from photographs where only the eye region of the face is available."Most people with some knowledge about autism research history will have heard about the........ Read more »

  • August 20, 2016
  • 04:47 AM
  • 131 views

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and risk of psychiatric disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder affecting 5-15% of reproductive-aged women and characterized by high levels of circulating androgens."OK, go on."Women with PCOS had higher risks for a range of psychiatric disorders not shown before. Elevated risk in their siblings suggests shared familial factors between PCOS and psychiatric disorders."So said the findings reported by Carolyn Cesta and colleagues [1] who using Swedish national register data concluded that there ma........ Read more »

  • August 19, 2016
  • 04:35 AM
  • 131 views

Childhood inflammation and hypomanic symptoms in young adulthood?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Higher levels of systemic inflammatory marker IL-6 in childhood were associated with hypomanic symptoms in young adulthood, suggesting that inflammation may play a role in the pathophysiology of mania."That was the conclusion reached by Joseph Hayes and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) who drew on data derived from the excellent resource that is ALSPAC ("Charting the health of 14,500 families in the Bristol area to improve the health of future generations"). I'll be talking abou........ Read more »

  • August 18, 2016
  • 06:09 AM
  • 146 views

Mercury and autism: where the science currently stands

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Yes, I know that on the 'hot potato' scale, to talk about mercury and autism still moves the needle up to somewhere approaching furnace level for some people despite discussions on this heavy metal still figuring in several quarters. This is however a blog based on peer-reviewed science (for the most part) and so with mucho, mucho caveats included I want to draw your attention to the review paper by Janet Kern and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) and the observation that: "The pr........ Read more »

Kern JK, Geier DA, Sykes LK, Haley BE, & Geier MR. (2016) The relationship between mercury and autism: A comprehensive review and discussion. Journal of trace elements in medicine and biology : organ of the Society for Minerals and Trace Elements (GMS), 8-24. PMID: 27473827  

  • August 17, 2016
  • 05:01 AM
  • 117 views

76% of youths with autism meet ADHD diagnostic criteria? No, more like 59%

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In a population of children diagnosed with ASD [autism spectrum disorder], the rate of ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] + ASD was 42% and the rate of ADHD + ASD + ID [intellectual disability] was 17%, resulting in a 59% total comorbidity rate of ADHD and ASD."That was one of the important findings reported by Tara Stevens and colleagues [1] who using data from the Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services (Pathways), a US initiative that has previ........ Read more »

  • August 16, 2016
  • 04:36 AM
  • 152 views

Group A Streptococcal infections and paediatric neuropsychiatric disorders: Taiwan style

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

There they go again. Taiwan and their 'big data' publishing, yet again, some rather interesting population-based research trends derived from data from the National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD).This time around it is the paper by Han-Cheng Wang and colleagues [1] and the hypothesis to evaluate the "association between group A streptococcal (GAS) infections and the risks of developing tic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disord........ Read more »

  • August 15, 2016
  • 04:09 AM
  • 150 views

Offending behaviour and ADHD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Although some associations between ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] and offending may be accounted for by co-morbidity with substance use disorders, early onset of offending and repeated violent offending appear to be directly related to ADHD."That was the conclusion reached by Jan Román-Ithier and colleagues [1] reporting on their study designed to "examine correlates of childhood ADHD symptoms among prisoners." Based on a sample adult prison population (N=1179) where........ Read more »

  • August 13, 2016
  • 03:26 AM
  • 199 views

Inflammation is part of Gulf War Syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Although mostly trying to avoid any politics-talk on this blog I am going to make some reference to it in this post set in the context of the Persian Gulf War otherwise known at the First Iraq War.The recent publication of the Chilcot report describing the case for the UK's involvement in the 2003 Iraq War (the second Iraq War) has further lit up an already illuminating year in British politics, by perhaps adding fuel to the notion that 'finishing the job' might have been an ........ Read more »

Johnson GJ, Slater BC, Leis LA, Rector TS, & Bach RR. (2016) Blood Biomarkers of Chronic Inflammation in Gulf War Illness. PloS one, 11(6). PMID: 27352030  

  • August 12, 2016
  • 04:22 AM
  • 192 views

Anti-psychotics for non-psychotic issues

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A bit of a lazy post for you today with lots of quotes based on the findings reported by Ragnar Nesvåg and colleagues [1] asking some important questions about 'off-label' use of antipsychotics.Drawing on population-based data from Norway concerning "which substances, and for which mental disorder diagnoses, antipsychotic drugs were prescribed to 0–18-year-old boys and girls" the conclusions drawn make for some interesting reading.So: "In total, 0.18% of Norwegian children and adolescent........ Read more »

Nesvåg, R., Hartz, I., Bramness, J., Hjellvik, V., Handal, M., & Skurtveit, S. (2016) Mental disorder diagnoses among children and adolescents who use antipsychotic drugs. European Neuropsychopharmacology. DOI: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2016.07.001  

  • August 11, 2016
  • 04:35 AM
  • 203 views

Induced labour and autism (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In this nationwide sample of live births we observed no association between induction of labor and offspring ASD [autism spectrum disorder] within sibling comparison. Our findings suggest that concern for ASD should not factor into the clinical decision about whether to induce labor."So said the findings reported by Anna Sara Oberg and colleagues [1] supposedly providing some reassurance to mums-to-be and other groups around the likelihood of offspring autism when birth or l........ Read more »

Oberg, A., D’Onofrio, B., Rickert, M., Hernandez-Diaz, S., Ecker, J., Almqvist, C., Larsson, H., Lichtenstein, P., & Bateman, B. (2016) Association of Labor Induction With Offspring Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders. JAMA Pediatrics. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0965  

  • August 10, 2016
  • 04:24 AM
  • 195 views

No association between [current] mycotoxin exposure and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Although research stories stating a link (an association if you will) between condition A and factor X make for interesting reading, not all science is so blessed with such news-worthy findings. That's not to say that 'negative findings' are any less important than the 'hey, we found this...' studies, just that they don't perhaps tend to grab the headlines as much as those finding something.In saying all that I'm standing up for negative findings today and some rather interesting science reporte........ Read more »

  • August 9, 2016
  • 02:56 AM
  • 201 views

Anxiety spreads across various psychiatric labels

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Comorbid anxiety symptoms are ubiquitous among psychiatric patients with mood or schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and in almost half of them, reportedly severe."So said the findings reported by Karpov and colleagues [1] who sought to put some further research flesh on to the bones of the idea that clinically relevant anxiety symptoms might not be unstrange bedfellows with a variety of other psychiatric labels.Based on the analysis of various patient groups included in the "Helsinki University ........ Read more »

Karpov, B., Joffe, G., Aaltonen, K., Suvisaari, J., Baryshnikov, I., Näätänen, P., Koivisto, M., Melartin, T., Oksanen, J., Suominen, K.... (2016) Anxiety symptoms in a major mood and schizophrenia spectrum disorders. European Psychiatry, 1-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2016.04.007  

  • August 8, 2016
  • 03:46 AM
  • 174 views

On staff training in the UK autism services sector

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I tread carefully in discussing the findings reported by Karola Dillenburger and colleagues [1] (open-access) on the question of "knowledge and training with regards to autism" received by "health, social care, and education staff who work within the statutory autism services sector in the UK." The observation that "an acute lack of autism-specific training that has detrimental impacts" was apparent is a worrying sign indeed.Although not intimately involved in the autism services sector, I ........ Read more »

Dillenburger K, McKerr L, Jordan JA, & Keenan M. (2016) Staff Training in Autism: The One-Eyed Wo/Man…. International journal of environmental research and public health, 13(7). PMID: 27438846  

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