Autism Research: September 25, 2014 Week in Review

ResearchAutism chances higher in pregnancies too quick or too far apart

 A new research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that kids conceived at a span of under a year or beyond 5 years after birth of their earlier siblings had greater risk of having autism when compared to those conceived at intervals of 2-5 years. Lead author Dr. Keely Chelack-Postava of Columbia University found that infants born within a year of their elder sibling had a 1.5 times higher risk as compared to those conceived after an interval of 24 to 59 months. The study also noted that conceptions that occurred after a 5yr gap led to a 30% higher risk of autism too. The study concludes that parental age, psychiatric condition and environment probably played a strong rule in the development of autism. More on this can be read on Autism Daily Newscast here.

Early delay in language alters brain anatomy in autism

In a shocking new discovery from the researchers at University of Cambridge, a study has revealed that the trademark language development delay that occurs in autism also leaves behind a ‘signature’ and alters the brain anatomically. The findings of the study led by author Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai from Cambridge Autism Research Centre collaborated with a team from King’s College London and University of Oxford and have published in the journal the Cerebral Cortex. This might be the reason for the umbrella term ‘autism spectrum’ that has evolved due to the vast differences in language skills in people diagnosed with autism.

Testing brainwave speeds could aid early autism diagnosis

 Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have come up with a very innovative way identify autism earlier and even help classify it. A new study led by Dr. Sophie Molholm and her team published findings in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities this week. The team found that the greater the times taken to process auditory information, the more severe the symptoms of autism were. No such link was established for visual information and autism. The findings could help use auditory signaling as an aid to diagnose autism earlier in infants and thereby, intervene faster. For more on this story read our report in Autism Daily Newscast here.

Autism moms more likely to have skipped iron during pregnancy

 In a study trying to identify the link between supplements and autism, researchers from University of California – Davis Health System, have found that expectant moms whose children later got diagnosed with autism were less probably to have taken adequate iron supplements prior to and during the pregnancy, compared to moms to who had typically growing children. The findings that autism had a 5 fold higher chance in such mom’s children were published this week in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The findings highlight how little things matter much as far as child birth and development go and how autism could be prevented by just regularly taking iron pills through pregnancy. For more on this story read our report in Autism Daily Newscast here.

Autism males have better grammar than typical peers, study discovers

 Amidst all the studies focusing on the deficits due to autism, a study led by Dr. Michael Ullman from Georgetown University Medical Center has found what the strengths of children with autism are. In a new study, he and his team found that boys having high-functioning autism were significantly faster compared to their typical peers at a key grammar ability i.e. converting verbs into their past tense. The findings have been published this week in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders and throws open a gate for exploiting language skills as possible careers in children with autism. For more on this story read our report in Autism Daily Newscast here.

Blocking a gene might help social behavior in autism

 Scientists from Indiana University School of Medicine have found that blocking a particular gene called Pak1 could help improve the trademark social interaction symptoms that plague certain forms of autism. The study led by Dr. Anantha Shekhar was published this week in the prestigious Nature Neuroscience. The findings could help develop targeted therapies in the near future.