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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
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  • March 2, 2017
  • 03:11 AM
  • 171 views

Subgroups in autism (without intellectual disability)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] without ID [intellectual disability] could be differentiated into Moderate and Severe Social Impairment subgroups when core ASD symptoms were more closely examined."So said the findings reported by Felicity Klopper and colleagues [1] looking at an important part of the autism research scene related to the 'plurality' of the term autism and the seemingly vast range of presentations included under the label. Reliant on data obtained........ Read more »

Felicity Klopper, Renee Testa, Christos Pantelis, & Efstratios Skafidas. (2017) A cluster analysis exploration of autism spectrum disorder subgroups in children without intellectual disability. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. info:/10.1016/j.rasd.2017.01.006

  • March 1, 2017
  • 03:13 AM
  • 169 views

Sex and age might affect comorbidity profiles in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Supekar and colleagues [1] provides some food for thought today specifically with the idea that comorbidity profiles accompanying autism might be influenced by age and gender in mind.To quote: "These results highlight crucial differences between cross-sectional comorbidity patterns and their interactions with sex and age, which may aid in the development of effective sex- and age-specific diagnostic/treatment strategies for ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and comorbid condi........ Read more »

Supekar K, Iyer T, & Menon V. (2017) The influence of sex and age on prevalence rates of comorbid conditions in autism. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 28188687  

  • February 28, 2017
  • 02:42 AM
  • 170 views

Premature mortality in intellectual disability in Australia (and England)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Adults with ID [intellectual disability] experience premature mortality and over-representation of potentially avoidable deaths."The paper by Julian Trollor and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) provides some sombre reading today, as once again the topic of early mortality is raised on this blog. Looking at several measures - the "Age Standardised Mortality Rate (ASMR), Comparative Mortality Figure (CMF), years of productive life lost (YPLL) and proportion of deaths with pot........ Read more »

  • February 27, 2017
  • 03:16 AM
  • 182 views

Low muscle tone and autistic traits

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This large study showed a prospective association of infant muscle tone with autistic traits in childhood."So said the findings reported by Fadila Serdarevic and colleagues [1] who, looking at nearly 3000 children, were able to assess early motor development and muscle tone "between ages 2 and 5 months" and later parental ratings of autistic traits in children at 6 years of age. Said autistic traits were surveyed using the "the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) and the Pervasive Developmental P........ Read more »

Serdarevic F, Ghassabian A, van Batenburg-Eddes T, White T, Blanken LM, Jaddoe VW, Verhulst FC, & Tiemeier H. (2017) Infant muscle tone and childhood autistic traits: A longitudinal study in the general population. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 28181411  

  • February 25, 2017
  • 04:07 AM
  • 223 views

1 in 5 children "met criteria for low language at 7 years"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Although primarily looking at the potential predictors of language outcome, the study results published by Cristina McKean and colleagues [1] revealed the rather important title heading this blog entry: "Almost 19% of children (22/1204;18.9%) met criteria for low language at 7 years."The source of the finding was a cohort of some 1900 infants "recruited at age 8 to 10 months" who were followed until aged 7 years old and subject to quite a bit of research inspection looking at "early life factors........ Read more »

McKean C, Reilly S, Bavin EL, Bretherton L, Cini E, Conway L, Cook F, Eadie P, Prior M, Wake M.... (2017) Language Outcomes at 7 Years: Early Predictors and Co-Occurring Difficulties. Pediatrics. PMID: 28179482  

  • February 24, 2017
  • 03:07 AM
  • 210 views

Say my name

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"At 9 months of age, infants developing ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were more likely to fail to orient to their names, persisting through 24 months."So said the findings reported by Meghan Miller and colleagues [1] investigating an often over-looked but typically informative question relevant to childhood autism screening and assessment: the response to name. Anyone who knows a little about instruments such as the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) will already know ........ Read more »

Miller M, Iosif AM, Hill M, Young GS, Schwichtenberg AJ, & Ozonoff S. (2017) Response to Name in Infants Developing Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Prospective Study. The Journal of pediatrics. PMID: 28162768  

  • February 23, 2017
  • 02:59 AM
  • 231 views

"Autoimmune epilepsy is an underrecognized condition..."

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Among adult patients with epilepsy of unknown etiology, a significant minority had detectable serum Abs [autoantibodies] suggesting an autoimmune etiology."So said the findings reported by Divyanshu Dubey and colleagues [1] continuing a research theme previously discussed on this blog (see here) on how epilepsy / seizure-type disorder(s) for some might have more to do with immune function than many people might think.OK, a brief bit of background: epilepsy is a blanket term cover........ Read more »

Dubey D, Alqallaf A, Hays R, Freeman M, Chen K, Ding K, Agostini M, & Vernino S. (2017) Neurological Autoantibody Prevalence in Epilepsy of Unknown Etiology. JAMA neurology. PMID: 28166327  

  • February 22, 2017
  • 04:20 AM
  • 239 views

History of bipolar disorder = elevated risk of dementia: is vitamin D important?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"History of BD [bipolar disorder] is associated with significantly higher risk of dementia in older adults."So said the systematic review and meta-analysis published by Breno Diniz and colleagues [1] taking in the accumulated peer-reviewed literature on this topic. Including data for some 3000 individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder and nearly 200,000 controls (without bipolar disorder), authors calculated something of a significantly higher risk of dementia in those with a do........ Read more »

Diniz BS, Teixeira AL, Cao F, Gildengers A, Soares JC, Butters MA, & Reynolds CF 3rd. (2017) History of Bipolar Disorder and the Risk of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. PMID: 28161155  

  • February 21, 2017
  • 03:39 AM
  • 240 views

Neuropsychiatric disorder onset "temporally related to prior vaccinations"?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Given the modest magnitude of these findings in contrast to the clear public health benefits of the timely administration of vaccines in preventing mortality and morbidity in childhood infectious diseases, we encourage families to maintain vaccination schedules according to CDC guidelines."The quote opening this post comes from the paper published by Douglas Leslie and colleagues [1] (open-access) and offers not a conclusion from their study looking at the possibility that "the onset of some ne........ Read more »

  • February 20, 2017
  • 04:33 AM
  • 231 views

Catatonic symptoms and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Catatonic symptoms are more prevalent in young people with autism than previously thought" said the article recently published by Breen and Hare [1]. Continuing a research theme of at least one of the authors [2], the idea that catatonic symptoms - primarily manifesting as stupor, unresponsiveness to light, noise or touch, mutism, etc - might be over-represented when it comes to autism is not a new one by any means.Breen & Hare set about looking for "the presence and nature of such att........ Read more »

  • February 18, 2017
  • 04:30 AM
  • 235 views

Social interaction and autism: it takes two to tango

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Psychology experiments are not generally fodder for this blog when it comes to autism. The main reason being that quite a few appearing in the peer-reviewed literature tend to look at quite abstract features perhaps somewhat removed from the daily lives of autistic people and their significant others. A few also seem to struggle with the idea that grand over-arching psychological theories (that seem to inevitably follow psychological findings in particular) are not required when it comes to auti........ Read more »

  • February 17, 2017
  • 03:16 AM
  • 259 views

Vitamin D halting colds and flu?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Overall, the study said one person would be spared infection for every 33 taking vitamin D supplements. That is more effective than flu vaccination, which needs to treat 40 to prevent one case, although flu is far more serious than the common cold."That was some of the media interpretation of the paper - "systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data" - published by Adrian Martineau and colleagues [1] looking at the collected data on vitamin D supplementation "on risk ........ Read more »

Adrian R Martineau, David A Jolliffe, Richard L Hooper, Lauren Greenberg, John F Aloia, Peter Bergman, Gal Dubnov-Raz, Susanna Esposito, & et al. (2017) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ. info:/10.1136/bmj.i6583

  • February 16, 2017
  • 03:14 AM
  • 298 views

"early medical events are associated with clinical ASD phenotypes"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Charlotte Willfors and colleagues [1] (open-access) provides some food for thought today and the observation that various individual and cumulative medical events - "early medical events likely to be caused by environmental factors" - may be important to at least some autism.Researchers "scrutinized the early medical histories of a rare and informative sample of 13 MZ [monozygotic] twin pairs discordant for clinical ASD [autism spectrum disorder]" also including "13 M........ Read more »

Willfors C, Carlsson T, Anderlid BM, Nordgren A, Kostrzewa E, Berggren S, Ronald A, Kuja-Halkola R, Tammimies K, & Bölte S. (2017) Medical history of discordant twins and environmental etiologies of autism. Translational psychiatry, 7(1). PMID: 28140403  

  • February 15, 2017
  • 04:30 AM
  • 246 views

"Androgens were not associated with autistic traits at 12 months of age"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

EARLI - the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation study - has been mentioned on this blog before (see here) with the aim of the initiative to "examine possible environmental risk factors for autism and study whether there is any interplay between environmental factors and genetic susceptibility."In this post I'm bringing the paper by Bo Park and colleagues [1] (open-access) to your attention and the observation(s) that umbilical cord blood levels of testosterone and other relate........ Read more »

Park, B., Lee, B., Burstyn, I., Tabb, L., Keelan, J., Whitehouse, A., Croen, L., Fallin, M., Hertz-Picciotto, I., Montgomery, O.... (2017) Umbilical cord blood androgen levels and ASD-related phenotypes at 12 and 36 months in an enriched risk cohort study. Molecular Autism, 8(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13229-017-0118-z  

  • February 14, 2017
  • 03:27 AM
  • 253 views

Relative age and ADHD medication

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Youngest children in class 'more likely to be given ADHD drugs'" went the NHS Choices headline that led me to the short report produced by Martin Whitely and colleagues [1] (open-access).ADHD - attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder - is something of interest to this blog; not least the idea that relative age (age relative to peers in the same school year group) might be an important variable when it comes to at least some diagnoses of the condition (see here).The Whitely paper draws on ........ Read more »

Martin Whitely, Leanne Lester, John Phillimore, & Suzanne Robinson. (2017) Influence of birth month on the probability of Western Australian children being treated for ADHD. The Medical Journal of Australia. info:/

  • February 13, 2017
  • 04:28 AM
  • 264 views

Depression, SMILES and Modified Mediterranean diet (advice)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

SMILES in the title of this post refers to the SMILES trial - Supporting the Modification of lifestyle In Lowered Emotional States - and results recently published by Felice Jacka and colleagues [1] (open-access) pertinent to the idea that "dietary improvement" might be something to consider when a diagnosis of major depressive episode (MDE) is received.Having previously published their study protocol [2], researchers set about looking at whether under "single blind, randomised controlled" ........ Read more »

Jacka, F., O’Neil, A., Opie, R., Itsiopoulos, C., Cotton, S., Mohebbi, M., Castle, D., Dash, S., Mihalopoulos, C., Chatterton, M.... (2017) A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Medicine, 15(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y  

  • February 11, 2017
  • 04:43 AM
  • 251 views

Pregnancy exposure to SSRIs and offspring autism risk: debate continues

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"It remains unclear whether the association between first trimester SSRI [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor] exposure and child autism that was present in the case-control studies even after adjustment for MMI [maternal mental illness] is a true association or a product of residual confounding."So said the results of the systematic review and meta-analysis undertaken by Hilary Brown and colleagues [1] looking at a potentially important association between pregnancy use of a class ........ Read more »

  • February 10, 2017
  • 03:27 AM
  • 211 views

A few-foods diet for ADHD: a systematic review of meta-analyses of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"... the effect sizes of a few-foods diet are medium to large, justifying implementation of a diagnostic FFD [few-foods diet] in subgroups of children with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder], thus offering innovative treatment opportunities for ADHD."So said the "Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses of Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials" published by Lidy Pelsser and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) looking at various dietary interventions that have ........ Read more »

  • February 9, 2017
  • 03:01 AM
  • 233 views

On dietary and nutritional therapies for ME/CFS

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

ME/CFS in case you don't already know refers to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and, according to the findings reported by Nadia Campagnolo and colleagues [1], is in need of quite a bit more scientific investigation when it comes to the application of dietary changes and nutritional supplements to potentially alter the course of the condition(s).Surveying the peer-reviewed literature "from 1994 to May 2016" the authors looked for peer-reviewed studies where "CFS/ME........ Read more »

Campagnolo N, Johnston S, Collatz A, Staines D, & Marshall-Gradisnik S. (2017) Dietary and nutrition interventions for the therapeutic treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a systematic review. Journal of human nutrition and dietetics : the official journal of the British Dietetic Association. PMID: 28111818  

  • February 8, 2017
  • 04:33 AM
  • 259 views

On atopic disease and ADHD: 'strong evidence' for an association

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This current systematic review provides strong evidence that ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] is associated with atopic diseases and that individuals have a 30% to 50% greater chance of developing ADHD compared to controls."So said the results of the systematic review and meta-analysis published by Jurjen van der Schans and colleagues [1] looking at the collected peer-reviewed science literature on how conditions such as asthma, eczema and rhinitis might increase t........ Read more »

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