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  • May 16, 2015
  • 03:57 AM

Poverty affects autism ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A brief post for you today to bring to your attention the paper by Eirini Flouri and colleagues [1] who suggested that although socio-economic disadvantage (SED) was probably not a risk factor for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when comorbid, "it was associated with elevated emotional problems among children with ASD + ADHD."Based on data derived from "209 children with ASD who took part in the UK's Millennium Cohort Study", an initiative that has appeared on this blog before (see here), researchers examined developmental trajectories across ages 3, 5 and 7 years. Aside from observing a possible detrimental effect from SED on aspects of ASD + ADHD, they also reported that ASD + ADHD seemed to be associated with a consistently 'high trajectory' when it came to conduct issues compared with those with ASD only.Continuing the ideas that (a) autism appearing alongside ADHD (or should that be the other way around) is not an uncommon situation (see here), and (b) said association potentially increases the risk of various other issues coming about (see here), the suggestion that SED might impact on the presentation of autism + ADHD is an important one. Other work from this group [2] had hinted that family poverty may be one factor "associated with broad and specific (emotional and conduct problems) psychopathology" in the context of autism. I say this acknowledging that poverty has a range of effects when it comes to autism including the potential timing of diagnosis [3].Other, independent work, has not been so quick to drop the idea that poverty and deprivation may be a risk factor for autism [4] or at least, referral rates for autism (and on more than one occasion [5]) so I'd perhaps be a little guarded about removing this aspect from the autism + ADHD grouping altogether at the present time. The next question then needs to be how, in these times of continued austerity, can society deliver something that might mitigate the impact of autism + ADHD?Music: Morrissey - Everyday Is Like Sunday.----------[1] Flouri E. et al. Poverty and the Growth of Emotional and Conduct Problems in Children with Autism With and Without Comorbid ADHD. J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Apr 25.[2] Midouhas E. et al. Psychopathology trajectories of children with autism spectrum disorder: the role of family poverty and parenting. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013 Oct;52(10):1057-1065.e1.[3] Mandell DS. et al. Age of diagnosis among Medicaid-enrolled children with autism, 2001-2004. Psychiatr Serv. 2010 Aug;61(8):822-9.[4] Campbell M. et al. Autism in Glasgow: cumulative incidence and the effects of referral age, deprivation and geographical location. Child Care Health Dev. 2013 Sep;39(5):688-94.[5] Li X. et al. Neighborhood deprivation and childhood autism: a nationwide study from Sweden. J Psychiatr Res. 2014 Jun;53:187-92.----------Flouri E, Midouhas E, Charman T, & Sarmadi Z (2015). Poverty and the Growth of Emotional and Conduct Problems in Children with Autism With and Without Comorbid ADHD. Journal of autism and developmental disorders PMID: 25911306... Read more »

  • May 15, 2015
  • 03:13 PM

The fingerprint drug test

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers have demonstrated a new, noninvasive test that can detect cocaine use through a simple fingerprint. For the first time, this new fingerprint method can determine whether cocaine has been ingested, rather than just touched.... Read more »

  • May 15, 2015
  • 08:04 AM

African-American Living Kidney Donors At Higher Kidney Risk

by Cristy at Living Donor 101 in Living Donors Are People Too

The authors examined a database linking U.S. registry identifiers for living kidney donors (1987-2007) to billing claims from a private health insurer (2000-2007 claims)   Among 4650 living donors, 13.1% were African American and 76.3% were white; 76.1% were first-degree relatives of their recipient. By 7 years post-donation, after adjustment for age and sex, greater proportions …
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The post African-American Living Kidney Donors At Higher Kidney Risk appeared first on Living Donors Are People Too.
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Lentine KL, Schnitzler MA, Garg AX, Xiao H, Axelrod D, Tuttle-Newhall JE, Brennan DC, & Segev DL. (2015) Race, Relationship and Renal Diagnoses After Living Kidney Donation. Transplantation. PMID: 25905980  

  • May 15, 2015
  • 05:42 AM

Autism's environmental exposome (part 2)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Back in June 2012, I posted an entry on this blog titled: 'Autism's environmental exposome: fish and pharmaceuticals' covering some work by Michael Thomas & Rebecca Klaper [1] (open-access). In it, authors suggested that unmetabolized psychoactive pharmaceuticals (UPPs) - residues from certain medicines - present in drinking (or in the case of this work, swimming) water may "induce autism-like gene expression patterns in fish."The UPPs in question were "FLX [fluoxetine], VNX [venlafaxine], and CBZ [carbamazepine] in a 3-component mixture" and the lucky fish volunteers were fathead minnows who got to swim with those UPPs. The data were interesting insofar as the potential "ability to induce ASD-like gene expression patterns in developing brains" as a function of exposure to those UPPs, albeit with concentrations used in the Thomas/Klaper study "higher than observed environmental concentrations". The idea being that drug residues are present in the environment around us and some, either alone or in combination, may potentially host some important biological effects.Enter then further work from this group in the form of the paper by Gaurav Kaushik and colleagues [2] (open-access) who undertook some rather interesting network analysis among other things and concluded that: "protein products from gene sets with enriched expression in fish brains and human neuronal cells, due to an exposure of psychoactive pharmaceuticals, were comparatively more inter-connected to other neighboring proteins than protein products of non-enriched gene sets." Further: "these genes are more likely to experience altered expression upon exposure to PPCPs [pharmaceuticals and personal care products], causing further dysregulation of the whole interactome due to a ripple effect."I'll be honest with you and say that I'm not altogether au fait with all the goings-on reported by Kaushik et al and their bioinformatics approach adopted so you'll have to take my interpretation with a pinch of salt.  What they appear to be suggesting is that the effects of UPP exposure may not be just centred on the gene expression patterns they previously reported but rather having something of a wider knock-on effect on how gene products are expressed and how this might map onto something like autism. Interestingly, this time around researchers also introduced valproate (VPA) into their investigations given the growing evidence base that "VPA is known to induce ASD [autism spectrum disorder]-like phenotypes in mice" (see here for more information) as it might in people [3]. They reported some potentially important connections - "enrichment effects of clinical doses of VPA are similar to those for environmental concentrations of pharmaceutical mixtures."Accepting how the word 'chemical' has been very wrongly demonised over the years, the idea that environmental 'exposures' either singularly or as combinations, might have important effects on development and behaviour is something that requires quite a bit more investigation when it comes to something like autism. The idea that gene expression for example, can be modified by said exposures adds an extra layer of complexity to the rather too simplistic idea of 'genes vs. environment' when it comes to autism risk. One might also be minded to take into account gender/sex (see here) too particularly in light of some of the findings reported by Werling & Geschwind [4] recently...Oh, and UPPs might not be the only pharmaceuticals requiring further research attention with wastewater and minnows in mind...Music: Dinosaur Jr. - Freak Scene.----------[1] Thomas MA. & Klaper RD. Psychoactive pharmaceuticals induce fish gene expression profiles associated with human idiopathic autism. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e32917.[2] Kaushik G. et al. Psychoactive pharmaceuticals as environmental contaminants may disrupt highly inter-connected nodes in an Autism-associated protein-protein interaction network. BMC Bioinformatics 2015, 16(Suppl 7): S3.[3] Wood AG. et al. Prospective assessment of autism traits in children exposed to antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy. Epilepsia. 2015. 11 May.[4] Werling DM. & Geschwind DH. Recurrence rates provide evidence for sex-differential, familial genetic liability for autism spectrum disorders in multiplex families and twins. Molecular Autism 2015, 6:27.----------Gaurav Kaushik, Michael A Thomas, & Ken A Aho (2015). Psychoactive pharmaceuticals as environmental contaminants may disrupt highly inter-connected nodes in an Autism-associated protein-protein interaction network BMC Bioinformatics... Read more »

Gaurav Kaushik, Michael A Thomas, & Ken A Aho. (2015) Psychoactive pharmaceuticals as environmental contaminants may disrupt highly inter-connected nodes in an Autism-associated protein-protein interaction network. BMC Bioinformatics. info:other/

  • May 14, 2015
  • 02:52 PM

Educating the immune system: A vaccine for allergies

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

With the arrival of spring, millions of people have begun their annual ritual of sneezing and wheezing due to seasonal allergies. However, a Canadian research team is bringing them hope with a potential vaccine that nudges the immune response away from developing allergies. The findings have major clinical implications since allergies and asthma are lifelong conditions that often start in childhood and for which there is presently no cure.... Read more »

  • May 14, 2015
  • 01:15 PM

Mary-Claire King on Inherited Breast/Ovarian Cancer

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

It is a rare but delightful opportunity to learn about something from an acknowledged world expert. Such was the case last month when I heard Mary-Claire King give the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Memorial lecture, hands-down one of the best talks I’ve ever heard. She was a wonderful public speaker: funny, charming, and straight-shooting. Her topic, of […]... Read more »

Hall JM, Lee MK, Newman B, Morrow JE, Anderson LA, Huey B, & King MC. (1990) Linkage of early-onset familial breast cancer to chromosome 17q21. Science (New York, N.Y.), 250(4988), 1684-9. PMID: 2270482  

King MC. (2014) "The race" to clone BRCA1. Science (New York, N.Y.), 343(6178), 1462-5. PMID: 24675952  

  • May 14, 2015
  • 10:31 AM

Male Depression Risk Via Childhood Conduct Disorder

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Conduct disorder represents an important childhood-onset condition that commonly persists into adulthood.Adult antisocial personality disorder and substance abuse are known risks associated with conduct disorder.A recent study by Kenneth Kendler and Charles Gardner identified male conduct disorder as a risk factor for adult major depression.Their study using the Virginia Twin Registry examined 20 developmental risk factors in male and female twins for presence of recent adult major depression.A key finding in their study was gender specificity for several of the developmental risk factors. Many of the developmental risk factors increased risk for later depression in both males and females.However, several developmental risk factors showed a predominant effect in males. These male predominant risk factors included the following variables:Conduct disorderHistory of childhood sexual abuseDrug abusePast major depressionStressful life eventsConduct disorder and presence of drug abuse were classified as having moderate effect size in male gender predominance.Specific types of stressful life events were noted to have a strong male predominance. Stressful life events that included financial loss, occupational difficulty and legal problems were more commonly found in the male twins with depression.The authors note:"Our results with externalizing psychopathology are consistent with a wide range of studies finding that men have higher rates of conduct disorder and drug abuse and that both of these disorders are associated with a higher risk for major depression."The take home message for clinicians is that assessment of childhood conduct disorder is important in children, adolescents and adults. In adult males, childhood conduct disorder represents an important risk factor for adult major depression.Readers with more interest in this research can access the free full-text abstract and manuscript by clicking on the DOI link in the citation below.Photo of electus parrot pair is from the author's files.Follow the author on Twitter @WRY999Kendler, K., & Gardner, C. (2014). Sex Differences in the Pathways to Major Depression: A Study of Opposite-Sex Twin Pairs American Journal of Psychiatry, 171 (4), 426-435 DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.13101375... Read more »

  • May 14, 2015
  • 04:49 AM

Anxiety and depression linked to functional bowel issues: lessons for [some] autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Pablo Picasso (1905) @ WikipediaIMFAR (International Meeting For Autism Research) 2015 kicks off in earnest today (see here) so in order to keep tabs on the various discussions over the web (#IMFAR2015) alongside the usual workload I'm offering a relatively short blog entry.The paper served up today is by Maria Ines Pinto-Sánchez and colleagues [1] who reported that: "The prevalence of both anxiety and depression is influenced by gender, presence of organic diseases, and FGIDs [functional gastrointestinal disorders], and it increases with the number of coexistent FGIDs and frequency and severity of GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms."Based on a participant number in the thousands, outpatients completed "questionnaires evaluating FGIDs and anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale)." Responses were analysed focused on those actually meeting "Rome III criteria for FGIDs" and authors came to a few conclusions. "Compared with patients not meeting the criteria, prevalence of anxiety... or depression... was increased in patients with FGIDs." Further: "The prevalence of anxiety and depression increased in a stepwise manner with the number of co-existing FGIDs and frequency and/or severity of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms."It's probably not a startlingly new idea that suffering with a FGID can in itself bring about certain psychological/behavioural symptoms. The pain and discomfort that such GI issues can entail is probably a big factor in that relationship although I say that mindful that anxiety and depression are complicated states with lots of potential 'pathways' behind them. More than that however, I'm interested in how these findings might overlay with other labels in mind. Say for example, one looks at the pretty extensive research literature talking about functional bowel disorders being present and over-represented in cases of autism (see here and see here) and all that 'gut-brain' axis chatter that you see these days?Perhaps also relevant to the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is the growing recognition that psychiatric comorbidity/presentation such as anxiety and depression can also be a significant 'disabling' feature for many people on the spectrum (see here and see here respectively). Put these findings together with those described by Pinto-Sánchez et al and I'm hopefully not getting too ahead of myself saying that there may be a possible connection to be had.Indeed, the possibility of a link between bowel issues and psychological issues such as anxiety with autism in mind is something that has already cropped up in the peer-reviewed literature as per the work from Micah Mazurek and colleagues [2] previously covered on this blog (see here and see here). Without trying to simplify any relationship and again keeping in mind that there may be many reasons for the presentation of anxiety in autism [3], the idea that functional bowel issues might be a key part of anxiety for at least some on the autism spectrum, offers some potentially important lessons including about how one might be able to 'intervene' to improve both physical and psychological health. The focus being on tackling GI symptoms in cases of autism. Y'know, the kinda thing that Tim Buie et al [4] talked about quite a few years back...Music to close: Florence + The Machine - Ship To Wreck.----------[1] Pinto-Sánchez MI. et al. Anxiety and Depression Increase in a Stepwise Manner in Parallel With Multiple FGIDs and Symptom Severity and Frequency. The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2015. May 12.[2] Mazurek MO. et al. One-year course and predictors of abdominal pain in children with autism spectrum disorders: The role of anxiety and sensory over-responsivity. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2014; 8: 1508-1515.[3] Weiss JA. et al. Bullying Victimization, Parenting Stress, and Anxiety among Adolescents and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Res. 2015 May 11.[4] Buie T. et al. Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals With ASDs: A Consensus Report. Pediatrics. 2010; 125: S1-S18.----------Pinto-Sanchez, M., Ford, A., Avila, C., Verdu, E., Collins, S., Morgan, D., Moayyedi, P., & Bercik, P. (2015). Anxiety and Depression Increase in a Stepwise Manner in Parallel With Multiple FGIDs and Symptom Severity and Frequency The American Journal of Gastroenterology DOI: 10.1038/ajg.2015.128... Read more »

  • May 13, 2015
  • 04:07 PM

Can drinking alcohol harm the child before the mother knows she is pregnant?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

These days pregnant “moms to be” have lots of things to worry about, from second hand smoke to the chemicals in their make-up. Well they can unfortunately add one more thing to that list, a new study finds that alcohol drunk by a mouse in early pregnancy changes the way genes function in the brains of the offspring. The early exposure was also later apparent in the brain structure of the adult offspring. The timing of the exposure corresponds to the human gestational weeks 3-6 in terms of fetal development.... Read more »

Heidi Marjonen, Alejandra Sierra, Anna Nyman, Vladimir Rogojin, Olli Gröhn, Anni-Maija Linden, Sampsa Hautaniemi, & Nina Kaminen-Ahola. (2015) Early Maternal Alcohol Consumption Alters Hippocampal DNA Methylation, Gene Expression and Volume in a Mouse Model. PLOS ONE. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0124931

  • May 13, 2015
  • 09:43 AM

Video Tip of the Week: PhenogramViz for evaluating phenotypes and CNVs

by Mary in OpenHelix

As I’ve mentioned before, once I start looking over some new tools I’m often led to others in the same arena that offer related but different features. That’s what happened when I looked at the Proband iPad app for human pedigrees. I noted that they are using important community standards, and I decided to follow […]... Read more »

Kohler, S., Doelken, S., Mungall, C., Bauer, S., Firth, H., Bailleul-Forestier, I., Black, G., Brown, D., Brudno, M., Campbell, J.... (2013) The Human Phenotype Ontology project: linking molecular biology and disease through phenotype data. Nucleic Acids Research, 42(D1). DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkt1026  

Köhler Sebastian, Doelken Sandra C, Ruef Barbara J, Bauer Sebastian, Washington Nicole, Westerfield Monte, Gkoutos George, Schofield Paul, Smedley Damian, & Lewis Suzanna E. (2013) Construction and accessibility of a cross-species phenotype ontology along with gene annotations for biomedical research. F1000Research. PMID: 24358873  

Kohler, S., Schoeneberg, U., Czeschik, J., Doelken, S., Hehir-Kwa, J., Ibn-Salem, J., Mungall, C., Smedley, D., Haendel, M., & Robinson, P. (2014) Clinical interpretation of CNVs with cross-species phenotype data. Journal of Medical Genetics, 51(11), 766-772. DOI: 10.1136/jmedgenet-2014-102633  

  • May 13, 2015
  • 08:43 AM

Why Transplant Centers Have Incomplete Living Donor Follow-up

by Cristy at Living Donor 101 in Living Donors Are People Too

  The authors examined the follow-up data on living donors who donated in 2008-2012 using the 2013 (or new/current) standards.   “Complete follow-up at 6, 12, and 24 months was 67%, 60%, and 50% for clinical and 51%, 40%, and 30% for laboratory data, respectively, but have improved over time.” “Donor risk factors for missing …
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The post Why Transplant Centers Have Incomplete Living Donor Follow-up appeared first on Living Donors Are People Too.
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Schold JD, Buccini LD, Rodrigue JR, Mandelbrot D, Goldfarb DA, Flechner SM, Kayler LK, & Poggio ED. (2015) Critical Factors Associated With Missing Follow-Up Data for Living Kidney Donors in the United States. American journal of transplantation : official journal of the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons. PMID: 25902877  

  • May 13, 2015
  • 05:01 AM

Childhood inattention and later academic outcome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Across the full range of scores at a population level, each 1-point increase in inattention at age 7 years is associated with worse academic outcomes at age 16."That was one of the conclusions reached in the study by Kapil Sayal and colleagues [1] (open-access) drawing on data derived from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children or ALSPAC to those in the know. This initiative has also recently produced some other intriguing results on the potential long-term effects of bullying for example (see here)."Matching of the ALSPAC database with the administrative National Pupil Database (NPD, the central repository in England for pupil-level educational data) provided details of the children's results in the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations at age 16 years." For those resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, GCSEs are probably a familiar concept (they were the starting point for my own academic achievement record). For everyone else, GCSEs are normally sat at the end of the school journey (16 years) and form the start of the typical educational achievement hierarchy leading into A-levels, university degree and beyond. "In total, GCSE attainment data were available for 11,640 children (83% of the core ALSPAC sample)."The Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA) was completed by parents and teachers of participating children when aged 7 years old. Similar to other discussions on this blog mentioning the DAWBA (see here) it relates "closely to DSM-IV items and focus on current problems and associated impairment." For the purposes of the Sayal study "the key variables of interest relate to inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, and oppositional/defiant behaviors." Various other potential confounders such as child cognitive abilities and parental social class were also measured and taken into account when it came to the final analyses.Following some number-crunching the authors concluded that their results potentially "highlights the adverse effects of early childhood behavioral difficulties on educational outcomes in adolescence" specifically based on inattention symptoms: "inattention, particularly if noticeable to a parent or teacher, is a stronger predictor than hyperactivity/impulsivity of later academic difficulties." Disruptive behaviour disorder (DBD) and oppositional/defiant symptoms were also independently linked to worse academic outcomes in boys.I know that such findings are probably not totally unexpected in terms of issues such as inattention potentially impacting on learning ability/capacity/enthusiasm subsequently also being reflected in exam results, but the results do put a peer-reviewed, evidence-based perspective on things. Authors also note that: "teachers and parents should be aware of the academic impact of early behavioral difficulties, and, in particular, the risk associated with subthreshold difficulties." I might add that such results do not rule out other factors as playing a role in academic outcome as per other recent data [2].Insofar as what can be potentially done to mitigate such symptoms and their potential impact on academic performance, the authors offer a few suggestions including: "strategies that might help to optimize examination performance during teenage years include time management and organization skills (throughout the course of study), prioritization of key work, minimizing distractions, examination revision, and within-examination strategy." All well and good (and discussed by other authors [3]) I say but perhaps one might also look to 'tackling' issues such as inattention in other ways too. Take for example the recent paper from Bos and colleagues [4] (see this post) discussing their results based on supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids specifically on inattention symptoms. Probably not suitable or useful for every child with attentional issues, but certainly worth quite a bit more investigation looking for potential best responders based on the idea that good nutrition might be an important part of good mental health. Oh, and how about looking at sleep and even chess? [5]Music: Cannonball - The Breeders.----------[1] Sayal K. et al. Childhood behavior problems and academic outcomes in adolescence: longitudinal population-based study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015 May;54(5):360-368.e2.[2] Peyrot WJ. et al. The association between lower educational attainment and depression owing to shared genetic effects? Results in ~25 000 subjects. Molecular Psychiatry. 2015. April 28.[3] Ciesielski HA. et al. Academic Skills Groups for Middle School Children With ADHD in the Outpatient Mental Health Setting: An Open Trial. J Atten Disord. 2015 Apr 29. pii: 1087054715584055.[4] Bos DJ. et al. Reduced Symptoms of Inattention after Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Boys with and without Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Mar 19.[5] Blasco-Fontecilla H. et al. Efficacy of chess training for the treatment of ADHD: A prospective, open label study. Rev Psiquiatr Salud Ment. 2015 Apr 21. pii: S1888-9891(15)00048-8.----------Sayal K, Washbrook E, & Propper C (2015). Childhood behavior problems and academic outcomes in adolescence: longitudinal population-based study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 54 (5), 360-36800 PMID: 25901772... Read more »

Sayal K, Washbrook E, & Propper C. (2015) Childhood behavior problems and academic outcomes in adolescence: longitudinal population-based study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(5), 360-36800. PMID: 25901772  

  • May 12, 2015
  • 05:13 AM

Consider congenital cytomegalovirus infection when it comes to autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The finding lends some further support for congenital CMV [cytomegalovirus] being one of the many aetiologies underlying autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability."That was the conclusion reached by Mona-Lisa Engman and colleagues [1] from Sweden following their study looking to "evaluate the prevalence of congenital cytomegalovirus infection (CMV) in a representative sample of children with autism spectrum disorder." Carrying some rather distinguished company as part of the authorship list (see here and see here for example), researchers analysed that most important (and under-rated in my opinion) of resources, the newborn dried blood spot (see here), to screen for "CMV DNA using TaqMan-polymerase chain reaction.""One of the 33 children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability - 3% of that group - had congenital CMV infection." Allowing for the small group included for study and the isolated case of congenital CMV infection detected, the corresponding general population estimate for congenital CMV in Sweden (0.2%) was surpassed leading to the call for "similar studies with much larger samples."I've talked about congenital CMV infection and autism before on this blog (see here) and how some studies [2] have talked about infection rates quite a bit in excess of that seen in the general population when examining children diagnosed with autism. I've got little more to say on this topic aside from the idea that screening for congenital CMV should perhaps be expanded as and when autism is diagnosed. As per other research from Engman [3] congenital CMV might also carry some specific morphological changes to the brain which could also be included for further inspection, particularly in light of the findings from Erbetta and colleagues [4] covered in a recent post (see here).And then to mechanisms of effect...Music: Kate Bush and Army Dreamers. And if you're really interested (as I was), The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill.----------[1] Engman ML. et al. Prenatal acquired cytomegalovirus infection should be considered in children with autism. Acta Paediatr. 2015 Apr 21.[2] Sakamoto A. et al. Retrospective diagnosis of congenital cytomegalovirus infection in children with autism spectrum disorder but no other major neurologic deficit. Brain Dev. 2015 Feb;37(2):200-5.[3] Engman ML. et al. Congenital cytomegalovirus infection: the impact of cerebral cortical malformations. Acta Paediatr. 2010 Sep;99(9):1344-9.[4] Erbetta A. et al. Low-Functioning Autism and Nonsyndromic Intellectual Disability: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Findings. J Child Neurol. 2015 Apr 20.----------Engman ML, Sundin M, Miniscalco C, Westerlund J, Lewensohn-Fuchs I, Gillberg C, & Fernell E (2015). Prenatal acquired cytomegalovirus infection should be considered in children with autism. Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992) PMID: 25900322... Read more »

Engman ML, Sundin M, Miniscalco C, Westerlund J, Lewensohn-Fuchs I, Gillberg C, & Fernell E. (2015) Prenatal acquired cytomegalovirus infection should be considered in children with autism. Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992). PMID: 25900322  

  • May 11, 2015
  • 04:02 PM

GMO beef with the heart benefits of fish, why not?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Sometimes you just want beef, but beef is high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in the omega-3 type. Conversely, different types of fish are high in omega-3, but we all know they don’t compare to that tasty burger flavor. So what’s a beef lover to do, well if you’re in China you might have some options! Chinese scientists have reared beef rich in the beneficial fatty acids associated with fish oils.... Read more »

Cheng, G., Fu, C., Wang, H., Adoligbe, C., Wei, S., Li, S., Jiang, B., Wang, H., & Zan, L. (2015) Production of transgenic beef cattle rich in n-3 PUFAs by somatic cell nuclear transfer. Biotechnology Letters. DOI: 10.1007/s10529-015-1827-z  

  • May 11, 2015
  • 04:59 AM

Trends in the diagnosis of autism in Australia

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The frequency of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] diagnoses in Australia has increased substantially from previously published estimates."That was one of the conclusions reached in the study by Catherine Bent and colleagues [1] (open-access here) who aimed to "investigate the frequency and age at diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children aged under 7 years living in Australia."Drawing on "de-identified data" extracted from Helping Children with Autism Package (HCWAP) - an Australian Government initiative - covering the period 1 July 2010 and 30 June 2012, researchers examined various variables including: age at diagnosis, frequency of an ASD diagnosis and how particular child characteristics might have influenced both age and frequency of diagnosis.Some 15,000 children under 7 years of age were reported to be in receipt of an ASD diagnosis over the study period. The blanket ASD description included the labels of classical autism (autistic disorder), Asperger syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Autistic disorder took the lion's share of diagnoses, with over two-thirds of the cohort in receipt of this label."The average age at diagnosis of ASD in children registered with the HCWAP is currently 49 months, with the most frequently reported age being 71 months." There were however some interesting differences noted in terms of age at diagnosis as a function of label under the ASD umbrella. Those diagnosed with autistic disorder showing a pretty clear advantage in mean age at diagnosis (46.5 months) compared with those with Asperger syndrome (mean age: 59.5 months) and PDD-NOS (mean age: 51.1 months). Taken as a whole, the cohort tended to be diagnosed between 25-72 months of age with the peak age for diagnosis falling between 37-48 months of age. Compared with previous prevalence/incidence estimates for ASD in Australia, the data from Bent et al also "suggests that the incidence of ASD in Australia has increased substantially from previous estimates" with 0.74% of under-7 year olds diagnosed with ASD between 2010 and 2012.These are interesting findings. I've briefly touched upon some of the research behind the epidemiology of autism (autism spectrum disorder) in Australia before on this blog (see here) and how parts of Oz seemed to be lagging behind other estimated population rates of autism [2]. Accepting that there may be various factors affecting the estimates of autism prevalence across different countries and even different regions of countries, the figures from Bent (0.74%) start to become more comparable with the Danish estimates reported some 4 years ago.The idea that individual diagnoses covered under the umbrella term ASD might also translate into differences in age at diagnosis is also interesting if not new news. I recently covered some of the issues around the diagnosis of autism (see here) and in particular, some of the factors that seem to have some bearing on age at diagnosis (see here). Thinking back to some of my own research in this area [3] I remember detecting some differences in age of symptom onset/diagnosis according to diagnostic grouping albeit not significant in that particular cohort. The larger numbers from Bent and colleagues add to that sentiment and how, outside of sex differences in presentation, the differences between the various labels might affect the diagnostic journey."Given that research suggests a reliable and accurate diagnosis is possible for many children with ASD at 24 months... finding[s] represents a possible average delay of 2 years (and common delays of up to 4 years)." Accepting that in amongst the various 'autisms' there may be cases where onset is not normally present before 2 years of age, even potentially confounded by other behaviours/comorbidity, the onus seems to be very much on improved screening and detection of autism and quite a few more resources put into investigating "barriers that delay the diagnosis of ASD." Said barriers might also focus on healthcare providers as well as other factors [4] (see here for my take on this paper).Music: Portishead - Sour Times.----------[1] Bent CA. et al. Mapping the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders in children aged under 7 years in Australia, 2010-2012. Med J Aust. 2015 Apr 6;202(6):317-20.[2] Parner ET. et al. A comparison of autism prevalence trends in Denmark and Western Australia. J Autism Dev Disord. 2011 Dec;41(12):1601-8.[3] Whiteley P. Developmental, behavioural and somatic factors in pervasive developmental disorders: preliminary analysis. Child Care Health Dev. 2004 Jan;30(1):5-11.[4] Zuckerman KE. et al. Parental Concerns, Provider Response, and Timeliness of Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis. Journal of Pediatrics. 2015. 14 April.----------Bent CA, Dissanayake C, & Barbaro J (2015). Mapping the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders in children aged under 7 years in Australia, 2010-2012. The Medical journal of Australia, 202 (6), 317-20 PMID: 25832158... Read more »

  • May 10, 2015
  • 07:01 PM

Making Digestion Health Easier to Digest

by Aurametrix team in Irritable Bowel Blog

From balloons inserted into stomach or colon to the dreaded colonoscopy, digestive diagnostic procedures are not fun. Tracking diet and symptoms, too, is tedious and frustrating - unless, like a mouse, you can be isolated in a chamber linked to analyzers that automatically measure everything for you.... Read more »

  • May 10, 2015
  • 03:16 PM

Surprise! More sex does not mean more happiness

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Countless research and self-help books claim that having more sex will lead to increased happiness, based on the common finding that those having more sex are also happier. However, there are many reasons why one might observe this positive relationship between sex and happiness. Being happy in the first place, for example, might lead someone to have more sex (what researchers call ‘reverse causality’), or being healthy might result in being both happier and having more sex.... Read more »

Loewenstein, G., Krishnamurti, T., Kopsic, J., & McDonald, D. (2015) Does Increased Sexual Frequency Enhance Happiness?. Journal of Economic Behavior . DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2015.04.021  

  • May 10, 2015
  • 10:38 AM

How to Eliminate Some Living Donation Related Costs

by Cristy at Living Donor 101 in Living Donors Are People Too

Note: Typical with most recently published studies, I’m only able to see the abstract for this one.   Authors collected info from 194 living kidney donors enrolled in the KDOC study. “Most LKDs (n=187, 96%) reported one or more direct costs, including ground transportation (80%), healthcare (24%), lodging (17%) and air transportation (14%)…..Higher total costs …
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The post How to Eliminate Some Living Donation Related Costs appeared first on Living Donors Are People Too.
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Rodrigue, J., Schold, J., Morrissey, P., Whiting, J., Vella, J., Kayler, L., Katz, D., Jones, J., Kaplan, B., Fleishman, A.... (2015) Predonation Direct and Indirect Costs Incurred by Adults Who Donated a Kidney: Findings From the KDOC Study. American Journal of Transplantation. DOI: 10.1111/ajt.13286  

  • May 9, 2015
  • 05:27 AM

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) findings in severe autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The aim of this study was to evaluate the frequency of neuroradiologic abnormalities in low-functioning autistic children compared to Intellectual Quotient and age-matched nonsyndromic children, using the same set of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences."Accepting that the term 'low-functioning autism' is not one that I would personally use (indeed I'm not exactly enamoured by the term 'high-functioning' either), the results of the study by Alessandra Erbetta and colleagues [1] are briefly served up for your reading delight today. Mirroring other findings from this group [2], authors reported that: "MRI was rated as abnormal in 44% of autistic and 54% of children with intellectual disability" surveyed. Further: "The main results were mega cisterna magna in autism and hypoplastic corpus callosum in intellectual disability."I'm not a 'brain man' insofar as having any experience of MRI or the 'neuroradiologic' findings reported by Erbetta on either publication occasion. I do however find the idea that MRI or similar imaging methods might be indicated when someone presents with 'severe' autism (severe as in severely impacting on both clinical presentation and interfering with the acquisition of adaptive skills) as being quite a sensible approach. Mega cisterna magna - significantly enlarged CSF retrocerebellar cisterns in the posterior fossa with normal cerebellar morphology (apparently) - is still the source of some debate as to exactly what such a finding means. Zimmer and colleagues [3], looking through almost 20,000 "consecutive CT/MRI of the brain" found 49 cases of "isolated mega cisterna magna" in their cohort. Despite presenting with "overall normal cognitive functioning" they suggested that such a finding might have some influence on aspects of memory and verbal fluency. I say all this acknowledging that the brain is a mighty complex organ that is also surprisingly flexible in terms of the various duties it performs. A possible link between mega cisterna magna and congential cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection [4] is also intriguing from an autism perspective (see here) as per the recent paper from Engman and colleagues [5].The MRI results of those with severe autism also need to be compared against the data amassed from those perhaps not falling into that 'severe autism' categorisation. I've previously covered the paper by Roma Vasa and colleagues [6] (open-access) (see this post) who concluded that in 90% of cases of 'high-functioning' autism, there was very little too see from a brain imaging perspective. The more recent paper from Koolschijn et al [7] questioning the idea that autistic traits are specifically linked to brain morphometry adds to the idea that looking for a 'brain signature' for 'all autism' is probably not going to yield too many generalisable results, but rather the focus needs to be on endophenotypes.Music: Daft Punk - Da Funk.----------[1] Erbetta A. et al. Low-Functioning Autism and Nonsyndromic Intellectual Disability: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Findings. J Child Neurol. 2015 Apr 20. pii: 0883073815578523.[2] Erbetta A. et al. Neuroimaging findings in 41 low-functioning children with autism spectrum disorder: a single-center experience. J Child Neurol. 2014 Dec;29(12):1626-31.[3] Zimmer EZ. et al. Clinical significance of isolated mega cisterna magna. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2007 Nov;276(5):487-90.[4] Dogan Y. et al. Intracranial ultrasound abnormalities and fetal cytomegalovirus infection: report of 8 cases and review of the literature. Fetal Diagn Ther. 2011;30(2):141-9.[5] Engman ML. et al. Prenatal acquired cytomegalovirus infection should be considered in children with autism. Acta Paediatr. 2015 Apr 21.[6] Vasa RA. et al. Normal rates of neuroradiological findings in children with high functioning autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 2012 Aug;42(8):1662-70.[7] Koolschijn PC. et al. Are Autistic Traits in the General Population Related to Global and Regional Brain Differences? J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Apr 7.----------Erbetta A, Bulgheroni S, Contarino VE, Chiapparini L, Esposito S, Annunziata S, & Riva D (2015). Low-Functioning Autism and Nonsyndromic Intellectual Disability: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Findings. Journal of child neurology PMID: 25895913... Read more »

  • May 8, 2015
  • 04:32 PM

(More) bad news for Vets: PTSD linked to accelerated aging

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Before PTSD had a name there was shellshock. It was mysterious and much like today, not everyone showed symptoms and for the most part, it was written off. In recent years however, public health concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have risen significantly, driven in part by affected military veterans returning home. While this has opened the door for better care for people suffering from PTSD, it has also lead to some startling revelations about the extent of damage. New research that was just released, sad to say, doesn’t bode well for people with PTSD either.... Read more »

Lohr, J., Palmer, B., Eidt, C., Aailaboyina, S., Mausbach, B., Wolkowitz, O., Thorp, S., & Jeste, D. (2015) Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Associated with Premature Senescence? A Review of the Literature. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1016/j.jagp.2015.04.001  

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