Autism Research: March 20, 2015 Week in Review


ResearchART-children at higher autism risk, study finds

A new study analyzed data of children born in California between 1997 and 2007. The team of scientists led by Peter Bearman studied nearly 6 million children and found that autism was two times more common in children born via assisted reproductive techniques (ART) as compared to those born by natural methods. The study featured this week in the journal American Journal of Public Health. The investigators found that mother who gave to single children at a time had lesser autism risk as compared to those who had multiple births due to ARTs and the complications that such pregnancies commonly entail. The study was a collaboration between scientists from CDC and Columbia University in an effort to understand possible causal relations of the environment with autism and find preventive solutions for the rising numbers of the neurodevelopmental condition.

Journal Reference: Bearman P, et al. American Journal of Public Health.

Cerebellum research provides new insights into autism and schizophrenia

Doctors have forever believed that the cerebellum is responsible for functions like balance and motor coordination of the body. Now, new research from studies conducted on people born without a cerebellum is showing that other parts of the brain can take over its functions. Jeremy Schmahmann of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School has been studying this for the past 15-20 years and has come to a conclusion that functions like abstract thinking and social cues identification are both processed by the cerebellum at least in some part, as people born without a cerebellum have difficulty with both of these. Ironically, these limitations are also faced by persons diagnosed with autism, suggesting that the cerebellum might have been in the shadows so far as regards as being a potential culprit in autism.

Test to detect antibodies to the fetal brain leading to autism under way

A new study conducted by Pediatric Bioscience was revealed at the 2015 Autism Investment Conference talking about its MAR test. MAR stands for Maternal Antibody-Related autism and has been considered to be one of the important causes of the growing number of cases of autism. The test will detect maternal antibodies that pose a significantly increased risk of the child being born with autism. the study authored by Dr. Judy Van de Water and her co-author suggests that autoimmune disorders are more common in children with autism and vice versa and this is due to the presence of the antibodies they detected. The MAR is a simple blood test that will detect heightened risk of mother having a child with autism by detecting all 7 autoantibodies to fetal brain proteins that have been shown to be responsible for at least 1/4th cases of autism.

Study finds classical music to be a stress-buster in autism

A new study has found that classical music can be a potent stress buster in persons with autism. For the study, the investigators used renowned classical pianist, David Helfgott’s music which was also used in the movie Shine. The study noted the children injured themselves lesser and had lower levels of stress hormones after listening to the classical music pieces. The study led by psychologist Jeremy Marriott started off on a hunch initially but was formally conducted later at the Curtin University. The study tested saliva samples of about 30 children with autism and the impact of classical music on their stress and anxiety levels after hearing a piece. The team found significant reduction in stress with better focus in the children, driving home the point that music therapy might actually be a great adjunct to conventional therapies.

 

 

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