Previous studies had suggested a potentially cause-effect association between Cesarean section linked births and children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. A new study published in the prestigious JAMA Psychiatry has busted the association saying the association was most probably due to unknown environmental or genetic factors. The study headed by Ali Khashan from the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research, Ireland studied a quanta of nearly 2.7 million children of which 80.1 percent were born by vaginal delivery and 12.6 percent by a CS of which 1% had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The authors also performed a sibling study where one sibling had autism and the other did not and found that of the 13, 411 pairs they studied, 2,555 pairs had discordance in the mode of delivery, nullifying the CS theory.
Journal Reference: Ali S. Khashan, PhD et al. Association Between Obstetric Mode of Delivery and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Population-Based Sibling Design Study. JAMA Psychiatry, June 2015 DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.0846
Reading intervention improves brain activity and reading in children on the spectrum
A new study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Alabama, Birmingham found that at the end of the 10-week planned reading intervention they conducted for children with autism, the brain activity and reading improved significantly. The researchers theorize that the brain areas that were loosely connected together synced better to comprehend what they were reading over the 10-week duration. Children received 4 hours a day, 5 days a week of intensive in-person instruction. Using brain imaging techniques, the team confirmed increase in brain activity in areas that process visual and spatial information, language skills as well. The study led by Rajesh Kana was published this week in the journal Autism Research.
Journal References: Donna L. Murdaugh, Hrishikesh D. Deshpande, Rajesh K. Kana. The Impact of Reading Intervention on Brain Responses Underlying Language in Children With Autism. Autism Research, 2015; DOI: 10.1002/aur.1503 and Donna L. Murdaugh, Jose O. Maximo, Rajesh K. Kana. Changes in intrinsic connectivity of the brain’s reading network following intervention in children with autism. Human Brain Mapping, 2015; DOI: 10.1002/hbm.22821
Integrated diagnostic approach to autism opens new doors
Scientists have forever been using a single clinical or imaging or questionnaire approach to diagnose autism with varying results. Now, a group of researchers from the INSERM have combined clinical, genetic and neurophysiological approaches to better understand neural mechanisms that cause and propogate autism. The 3-pronged approach when tested on families helped researchers led by Frédéric Laumonnier and Frédérique Bonnet-Brilhault identify gene combinations specific to autism patients. The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry this week. The findings of the study pave a new way of diagnosing and understanding autism.
Journal Reference: F Bonnet-Brilhault, S Alirol, R Blanc, S Bazaud, S Marouillat, R-A Thépault, C R Andres, É Lemonnier, C Barthélémy, M Raynaud, A Toutain, M Gomot, F Laumonnier. GABA/Glutamate synaptic pathways targeted by integrative genomic and electrophysiological explorations distinguish autism from intellectual disability. Molecular Psychiatry, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2015.75
33 risky autism genes identified in path breaking new study
In a path breaking new study, researchers led by Autism Sequencing Consortium (ASC) has identified 33 new genes that contribute to the risk of autism. the findings of the study have been published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature this week. The study examined over 14000 DNA samples from parents, children and individuals to arrive at the conclusion of the relative risk bestowed by these 33 genes that are responsible for synaptic function and neural network formation. The team led by Kathryn Roder and Dr. Devlin analyzed small differences in 107 genes thought to be conferring a risk of autism in an individual and by statistical analysis identified the 1000 genes that can jump the autism risk significantly.