Autism Research: April 25, 2015 Week in Review

ResearchMore evidence says MMR vaccine-not guilty!

In the ongoing debate between risk of autism due to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella vaccine), yet another research has backed up vaccines. A new study published in the Journal of American Medical Association that included about 95,000 kids who received the MMR vaccine, no increased risk for ASD was found, irrespective of the ASD status of the older sibling. Anjali Jain and team from the Lewin Group, Falls Church examined this extensive data to find more evidence favoring the innocence of vaccines in cases of autism risk.

Journal References: Anjali Jain, Jaclyn Marshall, Ami Buikema, Tim Bancroft, Jonathan P. Kelly, Craig J. Newschaffer. Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among US Children With Older Siblings With and Without Autism. JAMA, 2015 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2015.3077

Genetic analysis says nothing like ‘pure’ autism exists

A new study published this week in the journal Biological Psychiatry has laid to rest all claims of ‘pure’ genes of autism existing that shall point to the key traits of the condition. A group of scientists used data of 2576 autism simplex families found in the Simon Simplex Collection to try and see if a homogenous group of autism patients could help them in their search for purer autism genes. Unfortunately, no such homogenicity was seen as regards genes when children with similar autism traits and severity were grouped and their genetic data analyzed.

Journal Reference: Pauline Chaste, Lambertus Klei, Stephan J. Sanders, et al. A Genome-wide Association Study of Autism Using the Simons Simplex Collection: Does Reducing Phenotypic Heterogeneity in Autism Increase Genetic Homogeneity? Biological Psychiatry, 2015; 77 (9): 775 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.09.017

Parental concerns potential predictors for autism

Researchers from the University of Alberta have now identified a unique predictive parameter for risk of autism in children. Researchers led by Lonnie Zwaigenbaum published findings of this new study this week in the Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The team examined 300 families with children aged 6 months – 3 years over a year to conclude that parents with children at a higher risk of autism i.e. having an older sibling with ASD had greater concerns regarding sensory and motor development of their child right from 6 months age compared to others. This study puts the spotlight back on parents being the best judge for their children and how doctors should not take parental concern lightly.

Journal Reference: Lori-Ann R. Sacrey et al. Can Parents’ Concerns Predict Autism Spectrum Disorder? A Prospective Study of High-Risk Siblings From 6 to 36 Months of Age. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2015.03.014

Common link between prodigy and ASD uncovered

Researchers from the Ohio State University have found the first real evidence linking prodigy to autism. The team of scientists led by Joanne Ruthsatz published these findings this week in the journal Human Heredity. The scientists discovered that certain genetic variations found in autism were similar to those seen in child prodigies. These prodigies had some other ‘protective genes’ which probably allow only the talent to shine through without manifesting the traits of autism, the scientists concluded.

Journal Reference: Joanne Ruthsatz, Stephen A. Petrill, Ning Li, Samuel L. Wolock, Christopher W. Bartlett. Molecular Genetic Evidence for Shared Etiology of Autism and Prodigy. Human Heredity, 2015; 53 DOI: 10.1159/000373890

Parental training helpful in altering behavior in autism

A new study from the Emory University School of Medicine has found that structured parental training can reduce serious behavioral disorders within 24 weeks. The multi-site training study’s findings were published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association and were authored by Dr. Karen Bearss. The scientists fouond young children with ASD responded significantly to their parental training program and showed reduction in aggressive behaviors, temper tantrums, non-compliance, self-injury behaviors which are often a huge concern for parents. With more research, the program could be taught to all parents so as to help deal better with such serious disruptive behaviors.

Journal References:

  1. Karen Bearss, Cynthia Johnson, Tristram Smith, Luc Lecavalier, et al. Effect of Parent Training vs Parent Education on Behavioral Problems in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. JAMA, 2015; 313 (15): 1524 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2015.3150
  2. Bryan H. King. Promising Forecast for Autism Spectrum Disorders. JAMA, 2015; 313 (15): 1518 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2015.2628