Autism Research: June 7, 2014 Week in Review

 Research3 new gene networks of autism discovered

Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia analyzed the DNA of over 6700 subjects on the autism spectrum and discovered 3 new gene networks. The study lead by Hakon Hakonarson of the Hospital was published this week in Nature Communications. The study was the largest-ever study of CNVs or Copy Number Variations that are used to study changes in DNA that lead to manifestations of conditions like autism. The newly discovered networks offer hope in development of targeted therapies.

Air pollution it is, once again, yet another study reveals

Another new study has pin-pointed air pollution as the reason for the rising rates of autism. The study lead by Deborah Cory-Slechta of University of Rochester and her team found that air pollution was leading to enlargement of some parts of the brain in mice, when exposed to pollution in the years of development. The vital discovery the study made was that the enlarged areas of the mice brain were the same as the ones seen in humans with autism and another psychological condition called schizophrenia.

Anti-depressant use in pregnancy linked to autism risk

A study by the researchers from the Drexel University has uncovered that exposure to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which are commonly used anti-depressants in pregnant mothers, increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) directly 2-fold. The study lead by Nicole Gidaya was published in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders this week.

Elevated steroids in womb may lead to autism

As reported here in Autism Daily Newscast, scientists from the prestigious University of Cambridge have found that children that went on to develop autism were exposed to elevated steroid hormone levels like testosterone, cortisol, progesterone, while in the womb. The study was published this week in the journal Molecular Psychiatry and was lead by Prof. Simon Baron Cohen and Dr. Lombardo. The study was the result of collaboration between Statens Serum Institute of Copenhagen, Denmark. The study utilized samples from amniotic fluid of over 19,500 individuals. The finding has opened a new door to employ these hormone levels as bio-markers in pregnant women to assess the risk of autism in the developing fetus.

Prenatal stress in expectant mother predicts autism risk

Researchers from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute have found that more the maternal hardship and greater her distress, the higher were the autistic traits in their children at 6.5 years age. The study involved women who were already expectant during the January ’98 Quebec ice storm. The children were not autistic but had more normal deviation towards autism than other children whose mothers had not suffered as much stress during the ice storm and their pregnancy. The study was published in Psychiatry Research this week. More can be read at Autism Daily Newscast here.

Study reveals greater role on environment in autism cases

A study published this week by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University shows that more than half the risk for autism could be attributed to influence of environmental factors like an expectant mother’s stress or diet. The study published in Journal of the American Medical Association and PLOS Genetics studied over 14000 children with a diagnosis of ASD and found that only half the cases could be attributed to genetic mutations leaving the remaining half to environmental influences.