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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
896 posts

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  • May 3, 2016
  • 02:58 AM
  • 13 views

Machine learning applied to autism screening going big time?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Machine learning, when machines, er.. learn, is of growing interest to the autism research field. The names Wall and Duda have filled quite a few posts on this blog (see here and see here for example) on this topic and their suggesting that applying machine learning algorithms to something like autism screening and detection could cut down on time taken and resources used.As per the publication of the paper by Daniel Bone and colleagues [1] it appears that others working in autism research are a........ Read more »

  • May 2, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 28 views

On defining chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Most people who know a little bit about chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) will probably understand the potential importance of the findings reported by Leonard Jason and colleagues [1] (open-access available here). Suggesting that there may be "four groupings of patients" when it comes to how we "name and define the illnesses", this research group who surveyed over 500 people "in the United States, Great Britain, and Norway" report on one of the biggest challenge........ Read more »

Jason LA, McManimen S, Sunnquist M, Brown A, Furst J, Newton JL, & Strand EB. (2016) Case definitions integrating empiric and consensus perspectives. Fatigue : biomedicine, health , 4(1), 1-23. PMID: 27088059  

  • April 30, 2016
  • 02:45 AM
  • 80 views

The 'anti-neuroinflammatory activity' of oxytocin

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Whilst the package inserts of the various drugs that modern medicine has at its disposal provides important information on potential mode of action, there is a growing realisation that drugs generally have quite a few more molecular targets than are perhaps listed. Take for example the quite commonly used (in some parts of the world anyway) compound called melatonin  that in some instances can provide almost miraculous relief when it comes to sleeping issues under certain circumstances. A d........ Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 02:33 AM
  • 85 views

Organophosphate exposure and ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with higher urinary DMP [dimethylphosphate] concentrations may have a twofold to threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."So said the results presented in the paper by Yu and colleagues [1] who looking at "97 doctor-diagnosed ADHD cases and 110 non-ADHD controls who were 4-15 years of age" examined urine and blood samples for various factors including "biomarkers of OP [organophosphate] pesticide exposure." Th........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 103 views

What parents of children with autism expect from their child's therapists

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Parents ultimately wanted therapists to produce positive outcomes for their children and were willing to sacrifice other desired qualities, as long as the therapy program was effective."and"The SLPs [Speech-Language Pathologists] expressed strong support for evidence-based practice (EBP) and indicated that they thought parents expected their children would be provided with evidence-based interventions."Those quotes come from two papers recently published in the same journal; the first........ Read more »

  • April 27, 2016
  • 03:07 AM
  • 96 views

The A Word: the science behind...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The A WordI'm not typically inclined to talk about TV programmes on this blog (well, not usually) but today I'm making an exception based on the conclusion of the BBC drama series 'The A Word' last evening.For those who might not know, this [fictional] series charts the ups and downs of a family living in the Lake District whose lives are in one way or another touched by autism as a function of a 5-year old boy diagnosed with the condition. The show had a notable addition to the cast with a very........ Read more »

  • April 26, 2016
  • 03:10 AM
  • 98 views

Bacterial origin and transferability of depression?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Zheng and colleagues [1] caught my eye recently and the interesting ideas that "dysbiosis of the gut microbiome may have a causal role in the development of depressive-like behaviors" and "transplantation of GF [germ-free] mice with ‘depression microbiota’ derived from MDD [major depressive disorder] patients resulted in depression-like behaviors compared with colonization with ‘healthy microbiota’ derived from healthy control individuals."Bearing in........ Read more »

  • April 25, 2016
  • 02:15 AM
  • 115 views

Parenting a child with autism or ADHD: what the science says...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm talking about parenting again today. Two papers are served up for your reading interest today, providing an important 'science-based' perspective on the general experience of parenting a child who is also diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).The first paper by Britt Laugesen and colleagues [1] "aimed to identify and synthesize the best available evidence on parenting experiences of living with a child with attention-deficit hyper........ Read more »

Laugesen B, Lauritsen MB, Jørgensen R, Sørensen EE, Rasmussen P, & Grønkjær M. (2016) Living with a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review. International journal of evidence-based healthcare. PMID: 27058250  

Khan, T., Ooi, K., Ong, Y., & Jacob, S. (2016) A meta-synthesis on parenting a child with autism. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 745. DOI: 10.2147/NDT.S100634  

  • April 23, 2016
  • 03:12 AM
  • 144 views

Parents on the autism spectrum and 'parenting efficacy'

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

There are some aspects of the autism research landscape that make for uncomfortable reading. I've covered a few of them on this blog (see here and see here for example) simply because of my belief that science should not be afraid to ask about and try and answer difficult questions.I'd place the paper by Winnie Yu Pow Lau and colleagues [1] in that uncomfortable reading zone as a consequence of their findings related to parenting efficacy as a function of parents who themselves have been di........ Read more »

Lau, W., Peterson, C., Attwood, T., Garnett, M., & Kelly, A. (2016) Parents on the autism continuum: Links with parenting efficacy. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 57-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2016.02.007  

  • April 21, 2016
  • 11:23 PM
  • 149 views

Developmental regression in autism affects screening results

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In today's short post I'd like to bring the findings reported by Lotta Höglund Carlsson and colleagues [1] to your attention and a reminder that developmental regression accompanying autism onset is an important feature for quite a few people.With the aim of looking at the "national, routine 18-month developmental surveillance at Child Healthcare Centres (CHC) on children later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)" in Stockholm County, Sweden, authors reported on the results of sa........ Read more »

Höglund Carlsson, L., Westerlund, J., Barnevik Olsson, M., Eriksson, M., Hedvall, �., Gillberg, C., & Fernell, E. (2016) Autism spectrum disorders before diagnosis: results from routine developmental surveillance at 18 months. Acta Paediatrica. DOI: 10.1111/apa.13418  

  • April 21, 2016
  • 02:23 AM
  • 158 views

The inter-pregnancy interval and risk of autism reviewed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Short IPIs [interpregnancy intervals] are associated with a significantly increased risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]. Long IPIs also appear to increase the risk of ASD.So said the results of the systematic review undertaken by Agustín Conde-Agudelo and colleagues [1] into how birth spacing might impact on the risk of a child developing an ASD. Drawing on data from 7 studies that "reported an association between short IPIs and increased risk of ASD" including over 1.1 ........ Read more »

  • April 20, 2016
  • 02:30 AM
  • 152 views

Talking therapies impacting on the epigenetics of panic disorder?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The psychologist Oliver James has made some waves recently, coinciding with the publication of his new book, with the suggestion that nurture might be 'outdoing' nature when it comes to various concepts from intelligence to mental health. At times the recent 'debates' in this area have not been pretty as arguments about 'what the science actually says' with regards to [structural] genetics vs. environment have tended to get a little heated, and the word 'blame' being ban........ Read more »

Ziegler C, Richter J, Mahr M, Gajewska A, Schiele MA, Gehrmann A, Schmidt B, Lesch KP, Lang T, Helbig-Lang S.... (2016) MAOA gene hypomethylation in panic disorder-reversibility of an epigenetic risk pattern by psychotherapy. Translational psychiatry. PMID: 27045843  

  • April 19, 2016
  • 02:13 AM
  • 145 views

Bumetanide for schizophrenia? A case report

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Bumetanide - a medicine known as a diuretic - has appeared before on this blog (see here for example) in relation to some preliminary suggestions that at least some types of autism might be sensitive to intervention using this particular compound [1]. The names Lemonnier (Eric) & Ben-Ari (Yehezkel) are a big part of the research group interested in bumetanide and its use outside of more traditional indications; particularly, the focus on its action on NKCC1 onwards to an effect on ........ Read more »

Lemonnier E, Lazartigues A, & Ben-Ari Y. (2016) Treating Schizophrenia With the Diuretic Bumetanide: A Case Report. Clinical neuropharmacology, 39(2), 115-117. PMID: 26966887  

  • April 18, 2016
  • 02:23 AM
  • 144 views

'Autism genes' are not just 'genes for autism'

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Ya Wen and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) caught my attention recently with the suggestion that: "ASD [autism spectrum disorder]-associated genes may contribute not only to core features of ASD themselves but also to vulnerability to other chronic and systemic problems potentially including cancer, metabolic conditions and heart diseases." Further: "ASDs may thus arise, or emerge, from underlying vulnerabilities related to pleiotropic genes associated wit........ Read more »

  • April 16, 2016
  • 05:20 AM
  • 182 views

Long terms effects of communication by gesture and autism: a case report

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

As per previous entries on this blog, I'm not at all adverse to the idea that case reports (the so-called N=1) can offer some important insights into a heterogeneous (dare I say 'plural') condition like autism. Today, I'm once again heading down this route as I bring to your attention the letter from Webster and colleagues [1] talking about a 40 year follow-up note "About a Boy with Autism Taught to Communicate by Gestures when Aged Six."Harking back to a paper published by some of the authors i........ Read more »

  • April 15, 2016
  • 05:01 AM
  • 188 views

The transgenerational effects of prenatal immune activation?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Ulrike Weber-Stadlbauer and colleagues [1] provides some food for thought today with the suggestion that the concept of prenatal immune activation might have consequences further than just to exposed offspring.For those not familiar with the concept of prenatal immune activation, it refers to the process(es) that occur following "exposure to infectious or inflammatory insults" during the nine months that made us. As you'll probably be aware, our nine months of watery 'captivity' is ........ Read more »

  • April 14, 2016
  • 03:45 PM
  • 189 views

#Breadgate and nutritional psychiatry

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The review paper by Paola Bressan & Peter Kramer [1] (open-access) titled: 'Bread and Other Edible Agents of Mental Disease' has been getting a few people a little hot under the collar recently. With it's own Twitter hashtag #breadgate it looks like the idea that certain foods might have something of a bearing on "human behaviour and mental health" has not been received particularly well. I might add that this not the first time that such ideas have been entertained (see here)........ Read more »

Bressan P, & Kramer P. (2016) Bread and Other Edible Agents of Mental Disease. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 130. PMID: 27065833  

  • April 14, 2016
  • 02:51 AM
  • 173 views

Risk of type 2 diabetes in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Adolescents and young adults with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were more likely to develop type 2 DM [type 2 diabetes mellitus] during the follow-up. In addition, those with ASD using atypical antipsychotics exhibited a high risk. Therefore, further research is necessary to investigate the common pathophysiology of ASD and type 2 DM."So said the findings reported by Mu-Hong Chen and colleagues [1] as, yet again, Taiwan and their very useful National Health Insurance R........ Read more »

  • April 13, 2016
  • 03:25 AM
  • 167 views

Vitamin D deficiency and psychosis

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In amongst my various ramblings about how vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin/hormone - might show more than a few connections to conditions/labels outside of just the English disease (see here), I've covered some science on a possible connection with psychosis (see here) and schizophrenia (see here). There are still gaps in terms of the hows and whys of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency when it comes to this area of psychiatry, but I believe there is enough science in this area to initially w........ Read more »

Lally, J., Gardner-Sood, P., Firdosi, M., Iyegbe, C., Stubbs, B., Greenwood, K., Murray, R., Smith, S., Howes, O., & Gaughran, F. (2016) Clinical correlates of vitamin D deficiency in established psychosis. BMC Psychiatry, 16(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12888-016-0780-2  

  • April 12, 2016
  • 02:51 AM
  • 153 views

Evidence of blurring on the autism spectrum edges

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "multiple types of genetic risk for ASDs [autism spectrum disorders] influence a continuum of behavioral and developmental traits, the severe tail of which can result in diagnosis with an ASD or other neuropsychiatric disorder."That was the bottom line of the findings reported by Elise Robinson and colleagues [1] looking at data from "several large ASD consortium and population-based resources" (N~38,000) including the fabulous resource that is ALSPAC. Specifically an........ Read more »

Robinson EB, St Pourcain B, Anttila V, Kosmicki JA, Bulik-Sullivan B, Grove J, Maller J, Samocha KE, Sanders SJ, Ripke S.... (2016) Genetic risk for autism spectrum disorders and neuropsychiatric variation in the general population. Nature genetics. PMID: 26998691  

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