Autism Research: November 1, 2013 Week in review

adn iconAutism risk greater in the audio-visually challenged.

A large study published in the Disability and Health Journal found that 6% children having hearing problems and 7% having visual handicaps had a chance of being diagnosed with autism compared to only 1% of the typical population. The study involved 2, 30, 000 children from Atlanta of 8 years of age. Kim Braun, the lead investigator of the study chanced upon some other trends of autism as well in the course of the study. She found that children with both autism and a hearing problem also tended to have intellectual disability and cerebral palsy. Also, more boys than girls had the combination of autism and hearing loss.  Similarly, she found that children having a poor vision along with autism were more likely to be born premature and have a lower birth weight.

Many such prevalence have pointed towards a gaping need for better diagnostic criteria and tools to accurately diagnose children with sensory disabilities along with an psychiatric disorder. The database is part of CDC’s network and is expected to grow with time, providing more accurate data and better conclusions to work on.

Autism, epilepsy risk ups due to recurring genetic mutations

A new study conducted by Brian O’Roak and his team at the Oregon Health & Science University of Portland have found that certain genes, that are known to be shared by disorders like epilepsy, intellectual disabilities and autism, have recurring mutations in certain individuals. The preliminary findings were shared at the American Society of Human Genetics Meeting at Boston. The biggest revelation of the study was the significant amount of genetic overlap between the said disorders. Almost 50% of those with autism suffer from epilepsy as well and another 50% have intellectual disability. The findings are suggestive of de novo mutations being bona fide genes for autism.

Link between language difficulty and autism discovered

In a path-breaking study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on 30th October, scientists hinted towards having uncovered the link between autism and language impairments. In a study conducted over 79 families with facing both language impairments and autism, a team lead by Christopher Bartlett, found that almost two-third people with a diagnosis of ASD had a language impairment ranging from mild to severe. The study found that possibly the exact same genetic variants might be causing language difficulties in the kids with autism as in children having specific language impairment.  Two, hitherto unknown, genetic links were discovered by the researchers in the 79 families studied, linking the two conditions.

Acetaminophen linked with increased risk of autism

Recapping our article published on October 29, the Journal of Evolutionary medicine found a positive relation between the use of acetaminophen/paracetamol by pregnant mothers and autism in genetically susceptible kids. The study conducted by Dr. Shaw highlighted how the toxic build-up of paracetamol damaged one of the pathways of an enzyme known to be deficient in people with autism. Acetaminophen (i.e. tylenol) being a freely sold over-the-counter drug, might come under regulation, if the research gets more corroborative proof by way of a larger study.


Also reported this week in Autism Daily Newscast:

New research from the University of Utah shows a link between weight gain before and during pregnancy and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The results of the study, “Maternal Prenatal Weight Gain and Autism Spectrum Disorders,” are published in November edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Children born to mothers with a diagnosis of Systemic lupus erythamatosus are almost twice as likely to have autism a recent study has found.  The study will be presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting on Wednesday October 30, and may lead to added prenatal care for women suffering form the chronic condition.