Autism Research: October 4, 2013 Week in Review

CC BY-SA by Egan Snow

CC BY-SA by Egan Snow

Kids with Cerebral Palsy More Likely to have Autism

New research from the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveals that children with cerebral palsy are more likely to have autism than children without cerebral palsy. Published in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology on October 1, the study analyzed data on 147,112 children who were age 8 in 2008. The analysis revealed out of all the children in the study diagnosed with cerebral palsy, 7% were also diagnosed with autism. This rate is significantly higher than the 1% of all US children with an autism diagnosis.

NHE9 Transport Gene Contributes to Autism

A study published in the September 25 edition of Nature Communications reveals additional information on how the gene NHE9 contributes to autism. Conducted by researchers from John Hopkins University, Tel-Aviv University, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the study shows that mutations in this gene cause problems with communication between brain cells. This communication problem potentially contributes to autism. The gene has been linked to autism in the past but this study pinpoints the mechanisms involved in the gene’s mutation, giving researchers more specific evidence in how the gene may cause autism.

Repetitive Behavior Similar to Autism Replicated in Lab Mice

Research published on August 27 in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods reveals a new test for repetitive behaviors that resemble those in autism, utilizing lab mice. The mice used in the study were BTBR mice, a mouse strain that possesses characteristics resembling autism. In this study, mice were introduced to a water maze test with a movable platform. After the mice learned the maze, the platform was moved. BTBR mice were found to make more errors and to take five days to learn the paths in the test after the platform was moved, as opposed to 2 days for control mice.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Recreational Therapy Both Effective in the Treatment of Autism

Researchers from the Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institute and Northern Stockholm Psychiatry at St Göran Hospital, both in Stockholm, Sweden, have published a new study that looks at the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy and recreational therapy on adults with autism spectrum disorders. Published on October 2 in Autism, the study compared a group of 68 patients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. The group was divided, with half receiving cognitive behavioral therapy sessions and the other half receiving recreational therapy. Both groups participated in treatment for 3 hours per week for a total of 36 weeks. Subjects in both groups reported improved quality of life after the treatment completed, with no difference between the groups in the amount of improvement reported.