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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
1,222 posts

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  • November 9, 2016
  • 04:16 AM
  • 438 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
  • 402 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
  • 437 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
  • 448 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
  • 424 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
  • 477 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  

  • November 2, 2016
  • 03:55 AM
  • 481 views

ADHD (symptoms) and pain

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

If a primary goal of medicine is to relieve pain and suffering then the paper by Andrew Stickley and colleagues [1] might provide an important insight into how medicine might be missing some important groups when it comes to the experience of pain "assessed by the degree to which it interfered with work activity in the previous month."Drawing on data from the English 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) (a resource that has cropped up on this blog before), auth........ Read more »

Stickley A, Koyanagi A, Takahashi H, & Kamio Y. (2016) ADHD symptoms and pain among adults in England. Psychiatry research, 326-331. PMID: 27750114  

  • November 1, 2016
  • 04:09 AM
  • 461 views

On the "increasing evidence for an association between vitamin D insufficiency and depression"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The quote titling this brief post - "increasing evidence for an association between vitamin D insufficiency and depression" - comes from the review by Parker and colleagues [1] who seem to be no strangers to reviewing evidence on a possible link between the sunshine vitamin/hormone and depression [2].Affiliated to the Black Dog Institute in Oz ('black dog' being used as a metaphor for depression for quite a few years), the authors surveyed the quite voluminous peer-reviewed research literat........ Read more »

Parker GB, Brotchie H, & Graham RK. (2016) Vitamin D and depression. Journal of affective disorders, 56-61. PMID: 27750060  

  • October 31, 2016
  • 05:36 AM
  • 464 views

HBOT and autism systematically reviewed again (and the same results?)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"To date, there is no evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves core symptoms and associated symptoms of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the results of the review by Xiong and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) completed under the auspices of the Cochrane Collaboration, leaders in the science and publication of systematic reviews (see here for another example).Looking at the collected peer-reviewed science on the topic of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for aut........ Read more »

  • October 29, 2016
  • 04:08 AM
  • 402 views

Living with severe autism: families share their experiences

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Appreciating that the autism spectrum is truly a wide and heterogeneous one (or even several?), I'd like to direct your attention today to the findings reported by Jocelyn Bessette Gorlin and colleagues [1] on the topic of "the experiences of families living with a child with severe autism."In particular, I'd like to highlight the six areas that emerged from the "29 interviews with 22 participants from 11 families" related to family experiences and how, minus any sweeping generalisations, m........ Read more »

Bessette Gorlin J, McAlpine CP, Garwick A, & Wieling E. (2016) Severe Childhood Autism: The Family Lived Experience. Journal of pediatric nursing. PMID: 27720503  

  • October 28, 2016
  • 05:15 AM
  • 424 views

Lower autism rate under DSM-5 (yet again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

So: "Results indicate that individuals diagnosed with PDD [pervasive developmental disorder] by DSM-IV-TR criteria may not be diagnosed using DSM-5 criteria."That was the conclusion reached by Ferhat Yaylaci & Suha Miral [1] following their study of 150 children (3-15 years old) diagnosed with PDD "by DSM-IV-TR" whose symptoms/presentation were "reviewed through psychiatric assessment based on DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5 criteria." The percentage figure they arrived at (19.3%) indicat........ Read more »

  • October 27, 2016
  • 05:00 AM
  • 358 views

Autism and inborn errors of metabolism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'd like to think that the review article by Annik Simons and colleagues [1] (open-access) highlights some pretty strong evidence to suggest there being at least some connection between some autism and some of the collected inborn errors of metabolism. Indeed, when people generally talk about 'not knowing what causes autism' if we perhaps consider a more plural view of 'the autisms', there is a case to be made to say we might know what causes 'some' autism and some of it might lie in this area.......... Read more »

  • October 26, 2016
  • 07:42 AM
  • 439 views

'Super-parenting' improves children's autism: headline fail as PACT re-emerges...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The title of this post is partially taken from the BBC take on the findings reported by Andrew Pickles and colleagues [1] detailing a long-term follow up (and slight adjustment to the calculation of behavioural scores) of the Preschool Autism Communication Trial (PACT). PACT by the way, is a strategy based on the important tenet of shared attention where: "The approach aims to help parents adapt their communication style to their child’s impairments and respond to their child with enhance........ Read more »

  • October 26, 2016
  • 05:25 AM
  • 396 views

"Increased risk for substance use-related problems in autism"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"We aimed to investigate the risk of substance use-related problems in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Findings: "The risk of substance use-related problems was the highest among individuals with ASD and ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."So said the findings reported by Agnieszka Butwicka and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking again at an important but slightly uncomfortable topic: substance use-related problems or substance use disorder (SUD) with autism in ........ Read more »

Butwicka, A., Långström, N., Larsson, H., Lundström, S., Serlachius, E., Almqvist, C., Frisén, L., & Lichtenstein, P. (2016) Increased Risk for Substance Use-Related Problems in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Population-Based Cohort Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-016-2914-2  

  • October 25, 2016
  • 05:27 AM
  • 449 views

Vitamin D toxicity and autism: a case report

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Alternative medicine treatment put four-year-old boy in A&E [accident & emergency / emergency room]" went the recent BBC headline talking about the case report published by Drs Catriona Boyd and Abdul Moodambail [2].Describing the experiences of a 4-year old boy who attended A&E (the emergency room) following an extended period of "vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, polyuria, polydipsia and loss of 3kg in weight" in previous weeks, the authors report how after an unremar........ Read more »

  • October 24, 2016
  • 04:22 AM
  • 436 views

Bipolar disorder and the autism spectrum continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In a previous post on this blog I talked about an important paper by Vannucchi and colleagues [1] summarising the state of the peer-reviewed research (up to 2014) on bipolar disorder and Asperger syndrome (AS). Today, I'm adding to the conversation on this important topic by introducing two papers to the discussions: the first by Xenia Borue and colleagues [2] and the second by Ahmad Abu-Akel and colleagues [3] covering the longitudinal course of bipolar disorder (BD) in rela........ Read more »

Borue, X., Mazefsky, C., Rooks, B., Strober, M., Keller, M., Hower, H., Yen, S., Gill, M., Diler, R., Axelson, D.... (2016) Longitudinal Course of Bipolar Disorder in Youth With High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child . DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2016.08.011  

Abu-Akel, A., Clark, J., Perry, A., Wood, S., Forty, L., Craddock, N., Jones, I., Gordon-Smith, K., & Jones, L. (2016) Autistic and Schizotypal Traits and Global Functioning in Bipolar I Disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.09.059  

  • October 22, 2016
  • 04:21 AM
  • 437 views

Language and motor skills: preschool predictors of academic achievement in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A fairly quick post for your reading delight today as I bring the paper by Miller and colleagues [1] to your attention suggesting that: "Early intervention targeting language and motor skills may improve later achievement in this population."'This population' referred to a small cohort (N=26) of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who were examined "at the approximate ages of two, four, and ten" years with regards to their academic achievement and the variables that might b........ Read more »

Miller LE, Burke JD, Troyb E, Knoch K, Herlihy LE, & Fein DA. (2016) Preschool predictors of school-age academic achievement in autism spectrum disorder. The Clinical neuropsychologist, 1-22. PMID: 27705180  

  • October 21, 2016
  • 04:37 AM
  • 436 views

One more time: asthma and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm actually getting a little bored of talking about the various peer-reviewed research looking at a possible connection between asthma and autism on this blog. It's not that it isn't an interesting topic but rather that the data is coming in thick and fast suggesting that behaviour and physiology are not completely separate anymore.I did however want to direct you to the paper by Alessandro Tonacci and colleagues [1] who, following a systematic review "according to the PRISMA guidelines" s........ Read more »

Tonacci A, Billeci L, Ruta L, Tartarisco G, Pioggia G, & Gangemi S. (2016) A systematic review of the association between allergic asthma and autism. Minerva pediatrica. PMID: 27706122  

  • October 20, 2016
  • 04:32 AM
  • 433 views

"Folinic acid improves communication in childhood autism"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "... in this small trial of children with non-syndromic ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and language impairment, treatment with high-dose folinic acid for 12 weeks resulted in improvement in verbal communication as compared with placebo, particularly in those participants who were positive for FRAAs [folate receptor-α autoantibody]."Those were the findings reported by Richard Frye and colleagues [1] (open-access) continuing a research theme from this group l........ Read more »

  • October 19, 2016
  • 02:51 AM
  • 453 views

Paracetamol for fever 'associated' with autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In this study, we again show that acetaminophen use is associated with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."That was one of the results reported by Stephen Schultz & Georgianna Gould [1] (open-access available here) as part of their survey of the US "National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)" looking at "whether ASD is associated with acetaminophen use." Acetaminophen by the way, is another name for paracetamol, the over-the-counter ........ Read more »

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