Autism Research: April 25, 2014 week in review

adn-icon-298x300With mom’s over 30, the risk of autism increases progressively

A new study conducted by the Drexel University School of Public Health based in Philadelpia has found that the risk of autism in the child increases progressively as the mom ages over thirty.  In collaboration with the Karolinska Institute of Sweden, the researchers found that the chances of having a child diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability is higher for parents above 30. The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology and stated that the risk of autism in the child was related more to the mother’s advancing age than the father’s. The risk rose progressively for older moms than for older dads. The study once again puts the spotlight on moms as being participant in the rising rates of autism due to marriages and pregnancies occurring at more and more advanced ages.

Life stressors triggering neuropsychiatric disorders, study reveals

 A new research conducted by Kazue Hasimoto-Torii from the Children’s National Health System has revealed that mother’s exposed to alcohol, drugs, trauma or severe illnesses might be having a single molecule triggered off in the brain cells that might be ultimately leading to neurological conditions like autism, schizophrenia and even post-traumatic stress disorder. The new findings were published in the prestigious journal Neuron this week. The researchers found the molecular mechanism that might help understand how exactly the brain cells become dysfunctional when exposed to stressors from the environment. The team found that a gene called the HSF1 or the Heat Shock factor, that enabled the prenatal brain to survive environmental assaults, when absent in mice, lead to structural anomalies and increased chances of seizures post birth even on exposure to minimal quantities of toxins.

Autism severity and motor skill deficiency associated

Researchers from the Oregon State University have identified an association between the severity of autism and deficiency of motor skills. The findings support intensive motor training early in autism for development of the motor skills. The study published in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, found that most therapies for autism spectrum disorder focused on improving the social interactions. The study found that the motor skills in the participants were significantly behind those of age-matches typical peers and needed to be looked into and rigorously addressed. The 159 participants aged from 12-33 months and included 110 children with diagnosis of autism. Gross motor skills like jumping/running as well as fine motor skills like writing were found to be deficient. The findings highlight the importance of motor training for children with ASD. 

For a full article on this research see Autism Daily Newscast’s report earlier this week here.

Autism linked to yet another genetic mutation

The Scripps Research Institute has found yet another gene that can be linked to the chief symptoms that mark the diagnosis of autism. The study focused on the phosphatase and tensin homolog gene (PTEN) and was published in the Human Molecular Genetics  this week online. The team found that the PTEN lead to altered social interaction in the mice. They also found that it lead to repetitive behaviors and anxiety in the male mice while it lead to extra circadian activity and problems with emotional learning in the female mice.