Paul Whiteley

1230 posts · 692,341 views

Autism research, research blogging and health science stuff (picture is accurate)

Questioning Answers
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  • April 13, 2017
  • 05:40 AM

Video Interaction for Promoting Positive Parenting in autism: yes but not quite...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Video feedback may help babies ‘at risk of autism’" went one write-up of the study results published by Jonathan Green and colleagues [1] (open-access available here). Continuing a theme of kids at risk of autism potentially 'avoiding' an autism diagnosis (see here) following the use of "a 12-session parent-mediated social communication intervention delivered between 9 and 14 months of age (Intervention in the British Autism Study of Infant Siblings-Video Interaction for Promoting Positive ........ Read more »

Green J, Pickles A, Pasco G, Bedford R, Wan MW, Elsabbagh M, Slonims V, Gliga T, Jones EJ, Cheung CH.... (2017) Randomised trial of a parent-mediated intervention for infants at high risk for autism: longitudinal outcomes to age 3 years. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 28393350  

  • April 12, 2017
  • 05:39 AM

On a 'bidirectional relationship' between depression and autoimmune disorders

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"We replicated the finding that autoimmune disorders are frequently comorbid with depression, using a longitudinal national birth cohort and self-report data, which is increasingly used in the study of depression."So said the findings reported by Jack Euesden and colleagues [1] (open-access) adding further to a growing peer-reviewed literature base [2] citing a 'connection' between immune function/dysfunction and the presentation of psychiatric/behavioural features (see here). And yes,........ Read more »

  • April 11, 2017
  • 05:02 AM

Risk of death by injury and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Individuals with autism appear to be at substantially heightened risk for death from injury."That was the research bottom line published by Joseph Guan & Guohua Li [1] from Columbia University Medical Center, who trawled the accumulated data included in the US National Vital Statistics System screening death certificates issued between 1999 and 2014. Of the approximate 32 million death certificates issued, researchers found that some 1300 people diagnosed as on the autis........ Read more »

Guan, J., & Li, G. (2017) Injury Mortality in Individuals With Autism. American Journal of Public Health. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.303696  

  • April 10, 2017
  • 05:27 AM

"Predisposition" to autoimmunity and inflammatory activation linked to autistic regression?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Ori Scott and colleagues [1] provides some very welcome interest in the concept of regression in relation to autism. As I've indicated quite a few times on this blog, regression accompanying cases of autism has [finally] been accepted by the research community at large (see here for example) but there is still some way to go with regards to the hows-and-whys of regression. There are some clues (see here) but more data is required. What the evidence available so far suggests is ........ Read more »

  • April 8, 2017
  • 05:13 AM

One more time folks... pregnancy folate and autism risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Folate yet again on this blog? Sorry but that's just how the peer-reviewed papers have fallen..."Maternal folate supplementation during pregnancy may reduce the risk of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] in the offspring, especially in the Western population."So said the meta-analysis by Yu and colleagues [1] reporting on a topic that has seen quite a lot of research interest down the years (see here). Authors this time around cumulatively examined data for some 4,500 cases of autism compared w........ Read more »

  • April 7, 2017
  • 05:48 AM

Folate-dependent one carbon metabolism and transsulfuration pathways: biomarkers for autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I found it a little unusual that the findings reported by Daniel Howsmon and colleagues [1] (open-access) talking about "multivariate statistical analysis presented herein [provided] unprecedented quantitative classification results for separating participants into ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and NEU [neurotypical] cohorts based solely on biochemical data" merited a rapid reply in a prominent science magazine pouring cold water on the results (see here). Not least bec........ Read more »

  • April 6, 2017
  • 03:44 AM

"a single intravenous infusion of autologous umbilical cord blood" and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Could stem cells offer hope for autism?' went one media headline referencing the very preliminary "phase I, open-label trial" published by Geraldine Dawson and colleagues [1] (open-access) detailing the experiences of a single intravenous infusion of autologous umbilical cord blood in 25 children with "a confirmed diagnosis of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Well, the results were promising in respect of important issues such as safety in light of the tenet 'first do no harm': "Assess........ Read more »

Geraldine Dawson, Jessica M. Sun, Katherine S. Davlantis, Michael Murias,, Lauren Franz, Jesse Troy, Ryan Simmons, Maura Sabatos-DeVito, Rebecca Durham, & Joanne Kurtzberg. (2017) Autologous Cord Blood Infusions Are Safe and Feasible in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results of a Single-Center Phase I Open-Label Trial. Stem Cells Translational Medicine. info:/10.1002/sctm.16-0474

  • April 5, 2017
  • 04:14 AM

Paediatric congenital heart disease and autism risk (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Risk of autism spectrum disorder screening status in children with congenital heart defects was higher than expected from population rates."So said the findings reported by Jessica Bean Jaworski and colleagues [1] who set about "to assess the rates of autism spectrum disorders in a large sample of children with a history of congenital heart defects and to assess medical, behavioral, and individual factors that may be associated with the risk of autism spectrum disorders." Covering a topic that ........ Read more »

Bean Jaworski JL, Flynn T, Burnham N, Chittams JL, Sammarco T, Gerdes M, Bernbaum JC, Clancy RR, Solot CB, Zackai EH.... (2017) Rates of autism and potential risk factors in children with congenital heart defects. Congenital heart disease. PMID: 28299880  

  • April 4, 2017
  • 03:55 AM

Autism, ageing and comorbidity

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm not spending too much time today on the findings published by Elizabeth Wise and colleagues [1] but did want to bring them to your attention. Looking at the presentation of "comorbidities and behavioral and neuropsychiatric symptoms" in relation to autism in the context of ageing, some important details were noted. Not least that "GI [gastrointestinal] disorders (68.9%) and seizure disorders (23%) were common, and 25.7% of the sample had a BMI [body mass index] >30" wh........ Read more »

  • April 3, 2017
  • 04:10 AM

Decreased urinary creatinine levels associated with autism (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

One finding in particular stood out from those reported by Lussu and colleagues [1] following some nifty metabolomic investigations: decreased levels of urinary creatinine in their cohort of participants diagnosed as on the autism spectrum (n=21) compared with "controls (n = 21), these being siblings of autistic patients."Based on the "use of 1 H-NMR metabolomics to analyze the global biochemical signature of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] patients" researchers turned again to a fa........ Read more »

Lussu M, Noto A, Masili A, Rinaldi AC, Dessì A, De Angelis M, De Giacomo A, Fanos V, Atzori L, & Francavilla R. (2017) The urinary 1 H-NMR metabolomics profile of an italian autistic children population and their unaffected siblings. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 28296209  

  • April 2, 2017
  • 05:10 AM

On the under-studied populations within the autism spectrum

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I don't typically post on a Sunday, but given that today - 2nd April - is World Autism Awareness Day I've decided to make an exception. The theme of today's post is based around the notion that the autism spectrum is truly wide and heterogeneous, and although this is fairly universally acknowledged, the current peer-reviewed research literature on autism is perhaps not yet so accepting. So...Consistent with the idea that scientific research seems to go through cycles of themes/interests, th........ Read more »

Chakrabarti B. (2017) Commentary: Critical considerations for studying low-functioning autism. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines, 58(4), 436-438. PMID: 28346760  

  • April 1, 2017
  • 05:16 AM

Yet more bumetanide and autism findings

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Bumetanide, a loop diuretic medicine typically used to treat heart failure, is probably not something that most people would associate with 'attenuating' some of the presented characteristics of autism. This Na-K-Cl cotransporter (NKCC) blocking drug (influencing chloride concentrations in neurons and impacting on the actions of gamma-Aminobutyric acid, GABA) has however made quite a few appearances in the peer-reviewed autism research literature (see here and see here) and beyond........ Read more »

Lemonnier, E., Villeneuve, N., Sonie, S., Serret, S., Rosier, A., Roue, M., Brosset, P., Viellard, M., Bernoux, D., Rondeau, S.... (2017) Effects of bumetanide on neurobehavioral function in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Translational Psychiatry, 7(3). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2017.10  

  • March 31, 2017
  • 03:51 AM

Coeliac disease, autism and more

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Compared with the general population, children with celiac disease had a 1.4-fold greater risk of future psychiatric disorders. Childhood celiac disease was identified as a risk factor for mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, behavioral disorders, ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder], ASD [autism spectrum disorder], and intellectual disability."So said the study findings reported by Agnieszka Butwicka and colleagues [1] who, yet again, relied on one of ........ Read more »

Butwicka A, Lichtenstein P, Frisén L, Almqvist C, Larsson H, & Ludvigsson JF. (2017) Celiac Disease Is Associated with Childhood Psychiatric Disorders: A Population-Based Study. The Journal of pediatrics. PMID: 28283256  

  • March 30, 2017
  • 04:12 AM

[Objective] exposure to flame retardants and social behaviours

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Although a few details of the study reported by Shannon Lipscomb and colleagues [1] (open-access) interested me, I was particularly taken by their use of "a silicone passive wristband sampler [worn] around his/her wrist or ankle" to "assess the child’s exposure to flame retardants" as part of their investigation "to determine if flame retardant exposure was associated with measurable differences in social behaviors among children ages 3–5 years."I've covered the topic of potential adver........ Read more »

Lipscomb ST, McClelland MM, MacDonald M, Cardenas A, Anderson KA, & Kile ML. (2017) Cross-sectional study of social behaviors in preschool children and exposure to flame retardants. Environmental health : a global access science source, 16(1), 23. PMID: 28274271  

  • March 29, 2017
  • 03:54 AM

L-methylfolate administration and autism: a case report

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I should have really titled this post 'another case report' given yesterday's entry on this blog talking about a case of [untreated] PKU and autistic behaviours/diagnosis. Here I am again talking about another N=1 with autism in mind and specifically the findings reported by Kim Siscoe & David Lohr [1] on how: "L-methylfolate supplementation improved symptoms of aggression and disruptive behavior in a child with autism who tested positive for the C677TT allele of the methyltetrahydrofolate r........ Read more »

  • March 28, 2017
  • 05:34 AM

Presenting with the symptoms of autism and then diagnosed with phenylketonuria (PKU)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The case report from Betül Mazlum and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) illustrates once again that (a) the plural 'autisms' exist (see here) and (b) screening for inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) should be an important part of any autism assessment (see here). Indeed, screening for IEM should really be part of assessments for many different labels...Detailing a case report wherein a 3-year old child came to clinical attention for "speech delay and social problems", the authors ........ Read more »

Mazlum B, Anlar B, Kalkanoğlu-Sivri HS, Karlı-Oğuz K, Özusta Ş, & Ünal F. (2016) A late-diagnosed phenylketonuria case presenting with autism spectrum disorder in early childhood. The Turkish journal of pediatrics, 58(3), 318-322. PMID: 28266201  

  • March 27, 2017
  • 05:38 AM

Detecting stereotypic behaviours through technology

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"We have designed an Internet-of-Things (IoT) framework named WearSense that leverages the sensing capabilities of modern smartwatches to detect stereotypic behaviors in children with autism."So said the paper by Amir Mohammad Amiri and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) and, I have to say, something that really piqued my [research] attention. Describing how authors managed to design and construct a smartwatch with the ability to "detect three behaviors, including hand flapping, pa........ Read more »

Amiri AM, Peltier N, Goldberg C, Sun Y, Nathan A, Hiremath SV, & Mankodiya K. (2017) WearSense: Detecting Autism Stereotypic Behaviors through Smartwatches. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 5(1). PMID: 28264474  

  • March 25, 2017
  • 06:37 AM

Including the "full intellectual range" in autism vision research

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Alyse Brown and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) is probably not going to gain any significant media headlines (unlike other recent studies - see here and see here) but does cover a rather important question regarding the autism research landscape: how representative is autism research?Specifically looking at the collected research on visual processing (distinct from physical issues with the eyes that still require greater awareness) with autism in mind, the authors ........ Read more »

  • March 24, 2017
  • 04:46 AM

Autism and anxiety disorder: zooming in on the details

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Although it is not necessarily new news that (a) autism rarely exists in some sort of diagnostic vacuum, and (b) that some of the comorbidity 'over-represented' when it comes to autism can actually be more disabling than autism itself, there are still more investigations to be done.The paper by Vicki Bitsika & Christopher Sharpley [1] represents an example of how autism science is starting to go past the whole 'is there a connection between...' bit when it comes to autism and various comorbi........ Read more »

  • March 23, 2017
  • 05:02 AM

Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and autism continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I wanted to briefly talk about the paper by Francesca Garofoli and colleagues [1] on congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and autism not because it contains any novel data (see here), but because it reminds us that the potential 'pathways' to a diagnosis of autism are multiple and not necessarily 'pre-programmed' as per the 'it's all genetic' arguments that frequently figure in various domains.Congenital CMV infection refers to the transmission of CMV - "a common virus that belongs to the ........ Read more »

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