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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
1,026 posts

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  • September 29, 2016
  • 06:58 AM
  • 20 views

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) 2014 and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

They've finally arrived. The results of the English Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014 have been published by NHS Digital (yes, our Nation's healthcare services has a digital arm) and when it comes to autism (adult autism 18 years+), some rather peculiar statistics have been produced.OK, for those who want/need a quick heads-up on all-things Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), I'll refer you to a previous post I wrote covering this prevalence survey with autism in mind........ Read more »

Brugha TS, McManus S, Smith J, Scott FJ, Meltzer H, Purdon S, Berney T, Tantam D, Robinson J, Radley J.... (2012) Validating two survey methods for identifying cases of autism spectrum disorder among adults in the community. Psychological medicine, 42(3), 647-56. PMID: 21798110  

  • September 29, 2016
  • 03:06 AM
  • 17 views

On "socially successful elementary school-aged children with autism"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"School-based interventions should address malleable factors such as the number of peer connections and received friendships that predict the best social outcomes for children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the study findings reported by Jill Locke and colleagues [1] looking at "the stable (unlikely to change) and malleable (changeable) characteristics of socially successful children with ASD."Mindful that the phrase 'socially successful children' is perhaps not one that I'm p........ Read more »

Locke J, Williams J, Shih W, & Kasari C. (2016) Characteristics of socially successful elementary school-aged children with autism. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 27620949  

  • September 28, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 40 views

Postural tachycardia syndrome and gluten?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Please use your full stops wisely.I believe that this is the first time that I've talked about postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) on this blog as I bring to your attention some rather intriguing findings reported by Hugo Penny and colleagues [1] on how PoTS and gluten-related disorders might not be unstrange diagnostic bedfellows.PoTS by the way, describes symptoms where standing upright / sitting down induces dizziness, fainting and other symptoms. As well as being quite prevalent in a c........ Read more »

Penny, H., Aziz, I., Ferrar, M., Atkinson, J., Hoggard, N., Hadjivassiliou, M., West, J., & Sanders, D. (2016) Is there a relationship between gluten sensitivity and postural tachycardia syndrome?. European Journal of Gastroenterology , 1. DOI: 10.1097/MEG.0000000000000740  

  • September 27, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 54 views

Neurotensin, intestinal inflammation and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Elevated peripheral pro-NT [neurotensin] levels reflect more severe forms of active celiac disease, indicating a potential role of NT in intestinal inflammation."The suggestion, from Caroline Montén and colleagues [1], that the neuropeptide called neurotensin might play a role in paediatric coeliac disease is an interesting one that caught my eye recently. Interesting not only because of the potential implications for the archetypal 'gluten-causing' autoimmune condition cal........ Read more »

Montén C, Torinsson Naluai Å, & Agardh D. (2016) Role of pro-neurotensin as marker of paediatric celiac disease. Clinical and experimental immunology. PMID: 27612962  

  • September 26, 2016
  • 02:48 AM
  • 75 views

On HERV-H, autism, ADHD and methylphenidate?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Today's post is a bit of a mash-up including two paper: the first from Emanuela  Balestrieri and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) talking about "increased HERV-H [Human Endogenous Retroviruses - H] transcriptional activity in all autistic patients" included in their cohort (author's words not mine) and the second from D'Agati and colleagues [2] (open-access available here) describing "the reduction of HERV-H expression and the significant improvement of ADHD&n........ Read more »

Balestrieri E, Cipriani C, Matteucci C, Capodicasa N, Pilika A, Korca I, Sorrentino R, Argaw-Denboba A, Bucci I, Miele MT.... (2016) Transcriptional activity of human endogenous retrovirus in Albanian children with autism spectrum disorders. The new microbiologica, 39(3), 228-31. PMID: 27602423  

  • September 24, 2016
  • 03:26 AM
  • 109 views

Correcting ophthalmic problems in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Does Correction of Strabismus Improve Quality of Life in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?' went the title of the paper by Pinar Ozer and colleagues [1]. Yes, it may very well do was the answer (but with certain caveats and the requirement for a lot more research in this area).Strabismus, a condition where the eyes don't line up in the same direction, can sometime have some quite noticeable effects on a person's vision and indeed, has been linked to various other non-vision related sympto........ Read more »

  • September 23, 2016
  • 02:42 AM
  • 111 views

Epilepsy and systemic autoimmune diseases: birds of a feather?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A couple of years back on this blog I talked about some rather intriguing research suggesting that epilepsy and autoimmune disease might not be unstrange diagnostic bedfellows (see here) and that a "potential role of autoimmunity must be given due consideration in epilepsy." [1]Today, I'm continuing that research theme as the findings from Zhang Lin and colleagues [2] caught my eye concluding that: "There is an association between epilepsy and SAD [systemic autoimmune diseases], which ........ Read more »

  • September 22, 2016
  • 03:14 AM
  • 111 views

"Paediatricians are seeing more children with developmental-behavioural conditions"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Harriet Hiscock and colleagues [1] are brought to the blogging table today, specifically that suggestion that paediatricians, at least in Australia, might be encountering an increased number of "developmental/behavioural conditions" as part of their workload.Looking at the clinical experiences of some 180 paediatricians who took part in the study in late 2013 and comparing them with data from 2008, researchers probed a number of practices relating to "(i) conditions seen........ Read more »

  • September 21, 2016
  • 02:41 AM
  • 114 views

Respite care and parent stress with autism in mind

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"While most studies found that respite care was associated with lower stress, several found that respite care was associated with higher stress."That sentence is perhaps the most important finding recorded in the 'integrative review' published by Kim Whitmore [1] looking at "the relationship between respite care and stress among caregivers of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Covering a "final sample of 11 primary research reports" the author provides yet another example of how ........ Read more »

  • September 20, 2016
  • 03:11 AM
  • 150 views

First trimester maternal vitamin D status and offspring autism risk?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin/hormone - is seemingly everywhere these days in research terms. At the time of writing this post we have news that vitamin D might cut the risk of severe asthma attacks if taken alongside prescribed asthma medication. The week before that it was the suggestion that vitamin D might be part of the explanation as to why childhood learning difficulties were more commonly found in children conceived during the winter months. Vitamin D is seemingly shouldering quite a ........ Read more »

  • September 19, 2016
  • 02:59 AM
  • 150 views

Constipation in schizophrenia

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Constipation and dyspepsia are disturbing gastrointestinal symptoms that are often ignored in research on physical comorbidities of schizophrenia."Go on."The prevalence of constipation was 31.3%, and of dyspepsia 23.6%."So said the findings reported by Tomi Virtanen and colleagues [1] who assessed "dyspepsia and constipation in a sample of outpatients with schizophrenia spectrum psychoses." Alongside the general practitioner assessment of such functional bowel complaints, researchers also ........ Read more »

  • September 17, 2016
  • 08:27 AM
  • 146 views

Comorbidities surrounding paediatric chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS / ME)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This large nationwide registry linkage study confirms that the clinical picture in CFS/ME [chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis] is complex."That sentence, taken from the paper by Inger Bakken and colleagues [1] (open-access available here), is perhaps the under-statement of the year as authors sought to "describe comorbidities diagnosed in primary care in children diagnosed with CFS/ME in specialist health care" and "describe the timing of the diagnoses from prim........ Read more »

  • September 16, 2016
  • 04:24 AM
  • 169 views

Anxiety disorders and mortality risk: implications for autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Anxiety disorders significantly increased mortality risk. Comorbidity of anxiety disorders and depression played an important part in the increased mortality."So said the findings reported by Sandra Meier and colleagues [1] looking to assess any relationship between the presence of an anxiety disorder and mortality risk. Based on data from one of those oh-so-useful Scandinavian population registries (Denmark this time), researchers reported that: "The risk of death by natural and unnatural........ Read more »

Meier SM, Mattheisen M, Mors O, Mortensen PB, Laursen TM, & Penninx BW. (2016) Increased mortality among people with anxiety disorders: total population study. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science. PMID: 27388572  

  • September 15, 2016
  • 04:25 AM
  • 152 views

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)-predominant fatty acid supplements and the treatment of depression

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Further RCTs [randomised-controlled trials] should be conducted on study populations with diagnosed or clinically significant depression of adequate duration using EPA [eicosapentaenoic acid] -predominant omega-3 HUFA [highly unsaturated fatty acids] formulations."So went the conclusions of the review article published by Brian Hallahan and colleagues [1] who searched the peer-reviewed science literature for clinical trials "evaluating efficacy of omega-3 high........ Read more »

Hallahan B, Ryan T, Hibbeln JR, Murray IT, Glynn S, Ramsden CE, SanGiovanni JP, & Davis JM. (2016) Efficacy of omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of depression. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science. PMID: 27103682  

  • September 14, 2016
  • 04:26 AM
  • 150 views

Unexpected improvement in core autism symptoms following a probiotic?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Enzo Grossi and colleagues [1] (open-access) is definitely worthy of a post today and the suggestion that the "appropriate use of probiotics" might be something to consider for at least some diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.Accepting that I'm slightly curious as to what would be considered 'inappropriate use of probiotics', the Grossi paper describes the clinical journey of a boy aged 12 diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) accompanied by learning (intellectual)........ Read more »

  • September 13, 2016
  • 04:27 AM
  • 150 views

A 'characteristic chemical signature' to chronic fatigue syndrome?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Today I'm (belatedly) talking about the paper by Robert Naviaux and colleagues [1] (open-access) and some further peer-reviewed discussion concerning the metabolomics of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Suggesting that "targeted, broad-spectrum metabolomics of plasma not only revealed a characteristic chemical signature but also revealed an unexpected underlying biology" when it comes to CFS, it is not surprising that this work has attracted some media interest (indeed, quite a lot of m........ Read more »

Naviaux RK, Naviaux JC, Li K, Bright AT, Alaynick WA, Wang L, Baxter A, Nathan N, Anderson W, & Gordon E. (2016) Metabolic features of chronic fatigue syndrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 27573827  

  • September 12, 2016
  • 04:31 AM
  • 148 views

The force is strong with autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Tablet and phone games could help diagnose autism, study suggests" went the BBC headline covering the paper by Anna Anzulewicz and colleagues [1] (open-access). The idea being that the way that touch screens are used on tablet and smart phones could potentially 'separate out' those with autism from those with not-autism.Based on a small participant number of "37 children 3–6 years old with autism and 45 age- and gender-matched children developing typically" researchers set about examinin........ Read more »

  • September 10, 2016
  • 04:27 AM
  • 180 views

Prevalence of self-injurious behaviors among children with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Just over a quarter of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with self-injurious behaviour (SIB).That was the headline finding reported by Gnakub Soke and colleagues [1] who surveyed the 8000+ children "in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network during the 2000, 2006, and 2008 surveillance years." THE ADDM network, as some people might know, is one and the same network that comes up with the [estimated] prevalence of autism in the Unit........ Read more »

Soke GN, Rosenberg SA, Hamman RF, Fingerlin T, Robinson C, Carpenter L, Giarelli E, Lee LC, Wiggins LD, Durkin MS.... (2016) Brief Report: Prevalence of Self-injurious Behaviors among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder-A Population-Based Study. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 27565654  

  • September 9, 2016
  • 02:40 AM
  • 196 views

Post-exertional malaise (PEM) in CFS might mean more than one thing

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The results suggest that post-exertional malaise [PEM] is composed of two empirically different experiences, one for generalized fatigue and one for muscle-specific fatigue."So said the findings reported by Stephanie McManimen and colleagues [1] looking at one of the most common and debilitating aspects of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and how rough-and-ready generalised descriptions often do little to reveal the complexities of this particular sympt........ Read more »

  • September 8, 2016
  • 04:34 AM
  • 191 views

Metformin to tackle medication induced weight gain in autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Metformin may be effective in decreasing weight gain associated with atypical antipsychotic use and is well tolerated by children and adolescents with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the paper by Evdokia Anagnostou and colleagues [1] (open-access) tackling an increasingly important health issue related to the pharmacological 'management' of some aspects of some autism.Metformin is the treatment of choice when it comes to the management of type 2 diabetes (the one where "t........ Read more »

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