Tag Archive for 'Causes'

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CNV and Autism

Over on Science Based Medicine, David Gorsky has an extended post explaining the finding reported in “Functional Impact of Global Rare Copy Number Variation in Autism Spectrum Disorders” by Dalila Pinto and colleagues (and there are ship load of colleagues) that appeared in Nature. Dr. Pinto and colleagues examined copy number variations (CNVs; deletions, insertions, duplications, and other differences in genetic structure that have been a hot topic in genetics since ~2007) that are associated with Autism. Dr. Gorsky’s summary is well worth the read, saving me the task of summarizing this important report.

Lock ’em up!

In “Handcuffing revives autism reform calls,” Natalie Craig reported about a story that, it seems to me, we’ve heard sometime before now.

POLICE handcuffed a 10-year-old autistic boy at a Geelong primary school after a breakdown in which he threw a compass that speared a classmate’s leg.

Link to the full version of Ms. Craig’s story.

Scitable on Autism

The publishers of Nature are promoting a new site, Scitable. The publishers bill Scitable as “a free science library and personal learning tool brought to you by Nature Publishing Group, the world’s leading publisher of science. Scitable currently concentrates on genetics, the study of evolution, variation, and the rich complexity of living organisms.” Autism is one of the topics featured at Scitable, so I’ll be reviewing what’s there and monitoring for updates about the scientific study of Autism at it’s “Spotlight on Autism.”

Carter talks sense

I rarely point to posts on the Huffington Posts, but an entry by Liane Kupferberg Carter entitled “Autism: A time for civility” deserves recognition. Ms. Carter, the mother of a child with Autism, notes how factionation (if I may create than word) among people with interests in Autism has created divides not needed. The basic notion is that in contemporary diagnoses, Autism reflects a diverse spectrum of disorders. Educators, parents, policy-makers, and others need to accept the diversity and not fight among ourselves. Ms. Carter makes this point well. I encourage readers to read her post.

ASAT Online

AST Online’s most recent newsletter (as of this date) provides lots of helpful information. Check it!

Maternal age increases risk of Autistic offspring

Janie Shelton and colleagues at the University of Califonia at Davis reported that women over 40 years of age who give birth have an increased risk of the child having Autism. By studying a large sample of births, the researchers were able to disentangle the relative contributions of maternal and paternal age to the likelihood of having a child with Autism.

This study conflicts with some previous research that pointed at paternal age as a factor in Autism (see the EBD Blog page by Leslie Feldman on Fathers’ Age as Contributor to Risk for Autism). The Shelton et al. analysis expressly examined the relative contributions and points at maternal age as an independent factor. Additional research will help to clarify the relationships.
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Wakefield finding: Pro & con

As most readers probably know, the UK General Medical Council censured Dr. Andrew Wakefield for his research that supposedly shows a link between immunization with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. The Autism corner of the blogosphere has been rife with discussion (more than what I can up with keep). However, Liz Ditz has been maintaining a catalog of notes pro and con regarding the finding. For those who are interested, read Andrew Wakefield: Dishonesty, Misleading Conduct, and Serious Professional Misconduct: Blog Posts Critical of Verdict; Blog Posts Approving of Verdict

Also see theBBC news coverage, MMR scare doctor ‘acted unethically’ panel finds, and the UK Telegraph story, “GMC brands Dr Andrew Wakefield ‘dishonest, irresponsible and callous’.”

I want to note that readers should understand that the GMC investigation, though very important, did not expressly examine the scientific basis of Dr. Wakefield’s case. The findings discuss whether he was qualified to do the work and followed procedures in seeking approval for it. The scientific strength of the findings from the study in question have been examined extensively by well-qualified researchers and found wanting, though (see, for example, Hornig et al., 2008).

Science, gastro-intestinal problems, diets, and Autism

In Pediatrics Dr. Timothy Buie and colleagues published a paper providing evidence-based recommendations for pediatricians who evaluate and treat gastrointestinal problems in patients with Autism. The authors, who represent many important scientific groups concerned with allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, nutrition, and similar problems, concluded that children with Autism and related disorders should be assessed and, as approriate, given medical care just as would individuals without Autism. The team encouraged pediatricians to develop and employ “evidence-based algorithms for the assessment of abdominal pain, constipation, chronic diarrhea, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).”
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