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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
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  • November 25, 2016
  • 02:49 AM
  • 367 views

Screening for coeliac disease in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The overall CD [coeliac disease or celiac disease depending on where you live] prevalence was 2.62%, which is statistically significant higher to that reported in the Italian paediatric population... If replicated, these data suggest the importance of regular screening for CD in young patients with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Those were some of the findings/conclusions reported in the paper by Sara Calderoni and colleagues [1] (open-access) and with them, some ........ Read more »

Calderoni, S., Santocchi, E., Del Bianco, T., Brunori, E., Caponi, L., Paolicchi, A., Fulceri, F., Prosperi, M., Narzisi, A., Cosenza, A.... (2016) Serological screening for Celiac Disease in 382 pre-schoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 42(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13052-016-0308-x  

  • November 24, 2016
  • 04:48 AM
  • 381 views

Breastfeeding and autism (or autistic traits) continued?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"After adjustment for several confounders, longer duration of breastfeeding was independently associated with better cognitive development and with fewer autistic traits."So said the paper by Olivier Boucher and colleagues [1] communicating findings based on the examination of data from "the INMA Project, a Spanish multicenter birth-cohort study" (an initiative that has cropped up on this blog before).Including over 1300 children who were subject to a battery of psychometric and behavioural asse........ Read more »

Boucher O, Julvez J, Guxens M, Arranz E, Ibarluzea J, Sánchez de Miguel M, Fernández-Somoano A, Tardon A, Rebagliato M, Garcia-Esteban R.... (2016) Association between breastfeeding duration and cognitive development, autistic traits and ADHD symptoms: a multicenter study in Spain. Pediatric research. PMID: 27846197  

  • November 23, 2016
  • 04:29 AM
  • 365 views

ADHD symptoms not methylphenidate treatment might prime for psychotic events

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This study does not support the hypothesis that MPH [methylphenidate] increases risk of incident psychotic events. It does indicate an increased risk of psychotic events before the first prescription of MPH, which may be because of an association between psychotic events and the behavioural and attentional symptoms that led to psychiatric assessment and initiation of MPH treatment."The results published by Man and colleagues [1] (open-access) sit right with me. I say that on the basis........ Read more »

Man, K., Coghill, D., Chan, E., Lau, W., Hollis, C., Liddle, E., Banaschewski, T., McCarthy, S., Neubert, A., Sayal, K.... (2016) Methylphenidate and the risk of psychotic disorders and hallucinations in children and adolescents in a large health system. Translational Psychiatry, 6(11). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2016.216  

  • November 22, 2016
  • 03:01 AM
  • 387 views

Probiotics and 'subclincial' psychological symptoms: meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm gonna be fairly brief today and draw your attention to yet another systematic review and meta-analysis this time looking at how "probiotic supplementation can have a positive effect on mood and psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety." [1] Probiotics by the way, include a variety of bacteria and related lifeforms that are thought to confer some health advantage.The review/re-analysis by Jennifer McKean and colleagues found 7 studies on this topic in the peer-reviewed resea........ Read more »

  • November 21, 2016
  • 04:48 AM
  • 375 views

On C-reactive protein and bipolar disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"CRP [C-reactive protein] concentrations are increased in bipolar disorder regardless of mood state, but are higher during mania than in depression and euthymia, suggesting an increased inflammatory burden in mania."So said the systematic review and meta-analysis published by Brisa Fernandes and colleagues [1] who surveyed the peer-reviewed literature on the topic of "measured serum and plasma CRP concentrations in adult patients with bipolar disorder (as defined by DSM-IV-TR) and........ Read more »

Fernandes BS, Steiner J, Molendijk ML, Dodd S, Nardin P, Gonçalves CA, Jacka F, Köhler CA, Karmakar C, Carvalho AF.... (2016) C-reactive protein concentrations across the mood spectrum in bipolar disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The lancet. Psychiatry. PMID: 27838212  

  • November 19, 2016
  • 04:13 AM
  • 423 views

Low gestational age is associated with risk for autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The results published by Robert Joseph and colleagues [1] provide some blogging fodder today, observing that as part of the ELGAN (Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborns) Research Study, gestational age might matter when it comes to offspring risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).Gestational age is a measure of how far along a pregnancy is but in the context of the Joseph study refers to premature birth or those "born at least 3 months early." Researchers included data for nearly 1000........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2016
  • 04:40 AM
  • 350 views

Acute psychosis and urinary tract infection (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Consider this short blog post an extension of some previous discussions (see here and see here) on a rather peculiar 'association' between urinary tract infections (UTIs) and psychosis. UTIs basically refer to an infection in any part of the urinary system (kidneys, bladder, etc) typically treated with antibiotics. Psychosis is a state that causes a person to perceive or interpret things around them in an atypical way, usually accompanied by delusions or hallucinations. For a while now........ Read more »

  • November 17, 2016
  • 02:57 AM
  • 362 views

Caring for the carer: what the science suggests

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Papers such as the one published by Nikko Da Paz & Jan Wallander [1] I think represent one of the most important areas of autism research and practice when it comes to the practical translation of science to real-life. Tackling a very important topic - caring for the carers - the authors provide a "narrative review" of the peer-reviewed science literature looking at how "treatments that directly target parents' psychological well-being" in the context of autism are doing so far.Personally, I........ Read more »

  • November 16, 2016
  • 02:58 AM
  • 333 views

PACE-gate!

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

With all rights reserved for Keith Geraghty and his publication in the Journal of Health Psychology [1] (open-access) I want to reproduce his abstract relevant to the PACE trial commenting on the ups-and-downs of this study looking at the use of CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) and GET (graded exercise therapy) for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, ME):"Science is not always plain sailing and sometimes the voyage is across an angry sea. A recent ........ Read more »

  • November 15, 2016
  • 02:56 AM
  • 335 views

Autism, ESSENCE and the question of reassessment

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I talked about ESSENCE - Early Symptomatic Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examinations - only yesterday (see here) and here I am covering the topic again on this blog. There is good reason however that this concept appears once more, as I draw your attention to the paper by Anne-Katrin Kantzer and colleagues [1] and the specific observation that: "Co-existence with other conditions was the rule" when it comes to the diagnosis of autism.OK, it's nothing new to say that the l........ Read more »

  • November 14, 2016
  • 03:13 AM
  • 388 views

ESSENCE meets connective tissue disorders?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

ESSENCE referred to in the title of this post concerns 'Early Symptomatic Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examinations', a concept championed by the ever-intrepid Prof. Christopher Gillberg and colleagues. Combined with some rather important discussions about the research validity of the concept of a singular 'autism' (see here) [part of the ESSENCE issues described] I'm drawn to quite a few of the proposals put forward by this research group it has to be said.It is with ESSENCE ........ Read more »

Baeza-Velasco C, Grahame R, & Bravo JF. (2016) A connective tissue disorder may underlie ESSENCE problems in childhood. Research in developmental disabilities. PMID: 27802895  

  • November 12, 2016
  • 04:17 AM
  • 383 views

Bifidobacterium longum 1714 attenuates stress?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

It's been quite a week hasn't it? Indeed for quite a few people it's been a stressful few days so perhaps timely that I'm talking about the 'attenuation of stress' in today's post.Despite the relatively small sample size included in the paper by by AP Allen and colleagues [1] there is something rather tantalising about their results suggesting that in healthy volunteers "consumption of B. longum [Bifidobacterium longum 1714] 1714 is associated with reduced stress and improved memo........ Read more »

  • November 11, 2016
  • 03:04 AM
  • 377 views

"While you're here, I just want to talk about your weight"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The important Doctor-Patient relationshipIn a slight departure from the typical material discussed on this blog, I want to briefly direct readers to the paper by (Prof) Paul Aveyard and colleagues [1] and results suggesting that: "A behaviourally-informed, very brief, physician-delivered opportunistic intervention is acceptable to patients and an effective way to reduce population mean weight."The title of this post comes from some of the media coverage of the Aveyard study summarising how ........ Read more »

Aveyard, P., Lewis, A., Tearne, S., Hood, K., Christian-Brown, A., Adab, P., Begh, R., Jolly, K., Daley, A., Farley, A.... (2016) Screening and brief intervention for obesity in primary care: a parallel, two-arm, randomised trial. The Lancet. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31893-1  

  • November 10, 2016
  • 03:09 AM
  • 321 views

Atopy increases vulnerability to affective and anxiety issues?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In a year of impossible things...I was rather interested to read the recent paper by Renee Goodwin and colleagues [1] observing that: "Atopy appears to be associated with increased vulnerability to affective and anxiety problems, compared to youth without atopy."Atopy, referring to a predisposition to developing allergic diseases such as eczema, asthma and/or hayfever, is something on the 'up' in research terms when it comes to aspects of psychiatry and/or developmental outcomes (see here f........ Read more »

  • November 9, 2016
  • 04:16 AM
  • 372 views

A 'frank' presentation of autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Many individuals with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] have a distinctive behavioral presentation that is recognizable within moments, a phenomenon we call "frank" ASD." So said the paper by Ashley de Marchena & Judith Miller [1] who carried out an "empirical study of frank ASD" and by the looks of my Twitter feed when I initially posted about this study, there are quite a few varied opinions about the concept of 'frank' autism.Although 'frank autism' makes up a significant portion ........ Read more »

  • November 8, 2016
  • 02:57 AM
  • 335 views

"A Putative Blood-Based Biomarker for Autism Spectrum Disorder-Associated Ileocolitis"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Contrary to Murphy's Law - 'never repeat a successful experiment' - replication or reproducibility is a cornerstone of good science. Today, I'm blogging about a piece of research that aimed to do just that as per the findings reported by Stephen Walker and colleagues [1] (open-access).The title of this post has been borrowed from the title of the Walker paper to illustrate how moving on from the quite widely known 'fact' that functional gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are over-represented wh........ Read more »

  • November 7, 2016
  • 03:13 AM
  • 380 views

8.6% of children with autism have epilepsy?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Epilepsy was reported to co-occur in 8.6 % of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] cases."That was the headline conclusion reported by Shiny Thomas and colleagues [1] as they drew on data from "the most recent U.S. National Survey of Children's Health, 2011-2012" to add to the extensive literature looking at how common epilepsy is when it comes to autism.Including some 1600 children/young adults diagnosed with autism - equivalent to a prevalence of 1.8% of the entire 85,000-strong co........ Read more »

  • November 5, 2016
  • 04:20 AM
  • 394 views

Sensory subtypes and anxiety and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This is the first study to identify the existence of sensory subtypes among older children and adolescents with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and explore their association with anxiety levels."Far be it from me to question the above quote provided in the paper by Mirko Uljarević and colleagues [1] but I'm inclined to suggest that there has already been some research published on the link between sensory issues and anxiety in the context of the autism spectrum before (see here and se........ Read more »

Uljarević M, Lane A, Kelly A, & Leekam S. (2016) Sensory subtypes and anxiety in older children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research, 9(10), 1073-1078. PMID: 26765165  

  • November 4, 2016
  • 04:03 AM
  • 367 views

Hyperhomocysteinemia as a significant risk factor for autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Naushad Shaik Mohammad and colleagues [1] provide some blogging fodder today and the suggestion of a link between some of the genetics of the folate pathway and the finding of elevated levels of homocysteine with [some] autism in mind.OK, from the start, the genetics of folate metabolism mentioned in the context of autism typically means reference to the quite well replicated finding of issues with the gene methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) (see ........ Read more »

Shaik Mohammad N, Sai Shruti P, Bharathi V, Krishna Prasad C, Hussain T, Alrokayan SA, Naik U, & Radha Rama Devi A. (2016) Clinical utility of folate pathway genetic polymorphisms in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. Psychiatric genetics. PMID: 27755291  

  • November 3, 2016
  • 04:10 AM
  • 423 views

Antibiotic brain part 3

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This study demonstrates an association between antibiotic use in the first year of life and subsequent neurocognitive outcomes in childhood."So said the findings reported by Slykerman and colleagues [1] who relied on data from the Auckland Birthweight Collaborative Study (an initiative set up to determine whether "internationally recognized risk factors for small-for-gestational-age (SGA) term babies were applicable in New Zealand") to examine the suggestion that early life antib........ Read more »

Slykerman RF, Thompson J, Waldie KE, Murphy R, Wall C, & Mitchell EA. (2016) Antibiotics in the first year of life and subsequent neurocognitive outcomes. Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992). PMID: 27701771  

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