March 8, 2018

ResearchChristianson Syndrome- defined and diagnosed

Researchers from Brown University have studied and come up with the most definitive diagnostic criteria for Christianson syndrome, an autism-like disorder characterized by intellectual disability. The severe condition can now be easily diagnosed by parents and pediatricians alike, using the criteria. The study led by Dr. Eric Morrow from Brown University was published this week in Annals of Neurology. The authors of the paper are the first to propose a criterion to diagnose this relatively newly discovered disorder. The criteria almost double the number of boys that could be silently suffering from this syndrome world over without being even diagnosed, without being treated for it. The genes responsible for the syndrome might help researchers understand more about autism because of the vast similarities between the two conditions.

Autism moms would benefit from tailored therapies, research suggests

A new study published this week has suggested that mothers of children with autism could use tailor made treatments to de-stress. The findings presented in the journal Pediatrics were discovered by lead author Dr. Elisabeth Dykens and her team of psychologists at the Vanderbilt University, Nashville. The moms of kids diagnosed with autism participated in a program of coping mechanisms and found that they were less stressed, anxious and depressed and felt a stronger connection with their children after the program. The study shows how parents often get missed out and should also be given attention to cope with bringing up a child with special needs.

Breakthrough therapy helps children on the autism spectrum

Researchers from The Children’s Psychological Health Center in Santa Rosa and San Francisco have reported surprising improvements in the IQ of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders after a unique therapy. The team led by lead author Dr. Gilbert Kliman found that just about every child who underwent the treatment showed a significant hike in the IQ, irrespective of the diagnosis. The kids also showed better social interaction, positive behavior and better communication. The findings were presented at American Psychoanalytic Association in Chicago. The treatment is termed Reflective Network Therapy (RNT) and enriches the child with intense interpersonal exercises involving the child’s parents, therapist, peers and teachers right in the preschool classroom. The study brings hope to parents with children on the autism spectrum or having poor IQ due to any reason.

Mothers of children with autism could use tailor made treatments to de-stress.

Scientists from the Carnegie Mellon University and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York have found that the risk for autism comes due to the genes which are common amidst the population, not because of the rare, spontaneous genetic mutations, as many studies suggest. The researchers led by first author Dr. Joseph Buxbaum, analyzed genes of 3000 Swedes diagnosed with autism and found that 52% cases could be traced to inherited genetic variations, rare as well as common. The spontaneous genetic mutations could account for hardly 2.6% of the risk. Thus, the risk for autism understandably increases within families, especially amongst siblings. Further and larger scale studies would be necessary to determine if this holds true amidst all populations. The study appeared in Nature Genetics this week.

Co-occurrence of autism and asthma

The study findings reported by Stanley Kotey and colleagues* based at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the United States report “Asthma is approximately 35 % more common in autistic children; screening may be an efficient approach to reduce risk of morbidity due to asthma”. For a more in depth analysis read the article from Autism Daily Newscast’s resident science analyst Paul Whiteley here.

About the author 

Igor Berezner

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