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  • September 20, 2016
  • 03:11 AM

First trimester maternal vitamin D status and offspring autism risk?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin/hormone - is seemingly everywhere these days in research terms. At the time of writing this post we have news that vitamin D might cut the risk of severe asthma attacks if taken alongside prescribed asthma medication. The week before that it was the suggestion that vitamin D might be part of the explanation as to why childhood learning difficulties were more commonly found in children conceived during the winter months. Vitamin D is seemingly shouldering quite a ........ Read more »

  • September 19, 2016
  • 11:11 AM

Preventing Depression Following Brain Injury

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Depression is a common feature following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Post-TBI depression may be difficult to treat and evolve into a chronic depression syndrome.A recent published study demonstrates that prophylactic SSRI antidepressant treatment may reduce the incidence of depression following TBI.This study was conducted by investigators affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa.Ninety four subjects were recruited to this randomized........ Read more »

  • September 19, 2016
  • 02:59 AM

Constipation in schizophrenia

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Constipation and dyspepsia are disturbing gastrointestinal symptoms that are often ignored in research on physical comorbidities of schizophrenia."Go on."The prevalence of constipation was 31.3%, and of dyspepsia 23.6%."So said the findings reported by Tomi Virtanen and colleagues [1] who assessed "dyspepsia and constipation in a sample of outpatients with schizophrenia spectrum psychoses." Alongside the general practitioner assessment of such functional bowel complaints, researchers also ........ Read more »

  • September 18, 2016
  • 03:01 PM

The new findings heart repair research

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists trying to find ways to regenerate a damaged heart have shed more light on the molecular mechanisms that could one day make this a reality. Whilst other organs such as the liver can regenerate, the heart muscle has very little ability to do so after suffering damage, such as a heart attack.
In the womb the body is able to produce heart muscle cells but soon after birth it effectively stops producing them.... Read more »

  • September 17, 2016
  • 08:27 AM

Comorbidities surrounding paediatric chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS / ME)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This large nationwide registry linkage study confirms that the clinical picture in CFS/ME [chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis] is complex."That sentence, taken from the paper by Inger Bakken and colleagues [1] (open-access available here), is perhaps the under-statement of the year as authors sought to "describe comorbidities diagnosed in primary care in children diagnosed with CFS/ME in specialist health care" and "describe the timing of the diagnoses from prim........ Read more »

  • September 16, 2016
  • 10:16 AM

The Brain in Super Agers

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

My Twitter post on a recently published study of brain structure in a group of high performing older adults received quite a bit of attention (see below).Felicia Sun and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School selected an interesting research design.A group of elderly subjects between the ages of 60 and 80 years were identified as showing "superaging". This was defined as scoring like young adults on two neuropsychological tests: The Long Delay Free Recall measure........ Read more »

Sun FW, Stepanovic MR, Andreano J, Barrett LF, Touroutoglou A, & Dickerson BC. (2016) Youthful Brains in Older Adults: Preserved Neuroanatomy in the Default Mode and Salience Networks Contributes to Youthful Memory in Superaging. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 36(37), 9659-9668. PMID: 27629716  

  • September 16, 2016
  • 04:24 AM

Anxiety disorders and mortality risk: implications for autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Anxiety disorders significantly increased mortality risk. Comorbidity of anxiety disorders and depression played an important part in the increased mortality."So said the findings reported by Sandra Meier and colleagues [1] looking to assess any relationship between the presence of an anxiety disorder and mortality risk. Based on data from one of those oh-so-useful Scandinavian population registries (Denmark this time), researchers reported that: "The risk of death by natural and unnatural........ Read more »

Meier SM, Mattheisen M, Mors O, Mortensen PB, Laursen TM, & Penninx BW. (2016) Increased mortality among people with anxiety disorders: total population study. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science. PMID: 27388572  

  • September 15, 2016
  • 02:22 PM

MRI scanner sees emotions flickering across an idle mind

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

As you relax and let your mind drift aimlessly, you might remember a pleasant vacation, an angry confrontation in traffic or maybe the loss of a loved one. And now a team of researchers say they can see those various emotional states flickering across the human brain.

... Read more »

  • September 15, 2016
  • 09:10 AM

Paralympic athletes and the rise of the cyborgs

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Para and super? The Olympics are over. They’ve brought us some good stories, some nice records, and (self-citation alert!) a humble blog post about the ethics of doping. But the Paralympics, their less mediatized cousin, are in full swing. Paralympians from all over the world gather to wow us with their athletic prowess in the Paralympic […]... Read more »

  • September 15, 2016
  • 04:25 AM

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)-predominant fatty acid supplements and the treatment of depression

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Further RCTs [randomised-controlled trials] should be conducted on study populations with diagnosed or clinically significant depression of adequate duration using EPA [eicosapentaenoic acid] -predominant omega-3 HUFA [highly unsaturated fatty acids] formulations."So went the conclusions of the review article published by Brian Hallahan and colleagues [1] who searched the peer-reviewed science literature for clinical trials "evaluating efficacy of omega-3 high........ Read more »

Hallahan B, Ryan T, Hibbeln JR, Murray IT, Glynn S, Ramsden CE, SanGiovanni JP, & Davis JM. (2016) Efficacy of omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of depression. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science. PMID: 27103682  

  • September 14, 2016
  • 04:26 AM

Unexpected improvement in core autism symptoms following a probiotic?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Enzo Grossi and colleagues [1] (open-access) is definitely worthy of a post today and the suggestion that the "appropriate use of probiotics" might be something to consider for at least some diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.Accepting that I'm slightly curious as to what would be considered 'inappropriate use of probiotics', the Grossi paper describes the clinical journey of a boy aged 12 diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) accompanied by learning (intellectual)........ Read more »

  • September 13, 2016
  • 04:27 AM

A 'characteristic chemical signature' to chronic fatigue syndrome?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Today I'm (belatedly) talking about the paper by Robert Naviaux and colleagues [1] (open-access) and some further peer-reviewed discussion concerning the metabolomics of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Suggesting that "targeted, broad-spectrum metabolomics of plasma not only revealed a characteristic chemical signature but also revealed an unexpected underlying biology" when it comes to CFS, it is not surprising that this work has attracted some media interest (indeed, quite a lot of m........ Read more »

Naviaux RK, Naviaux JC, Li K, Bright AT, Alaynick WA, Wang L, Baxter A, Nathan N, Anderson W, & Gordon E. (2016) Metabolic features of chronic fatigue syndrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 27573827  

  • September 12, 2016
  • 12:36 PM

Opioid Abuse: Treatment Guidelines

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Molecular model of the drug buprenorphineThe U.S. Surgeon General recently sent a letter to all physicians about the danger of prescription opioids, particularly when used in combination with benzodiazepines (i.e. Valium, Xanax).  This combination greatly increases the risk of overdose death.Clinicians can successfully assist those with opioid use disorders. Marc Schuckit, M.D. recently published a nice summary review of entitled "Treatment of Opioid-Use Disorder" in the New England Journal........ Read more »

Schuckit, M. (2016) Treatment of Opioid-Use Disorders. New England Journal of Medicine, 375(4), 357-368. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra1604339  

  • September 12, 2016
  • 04:31 AM

The force is strong with autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Tablet and phone games could help diagnose autism, study suggests" went the BBC headline covering the paper by Anna Anzulewicz and colleagues [1] (open-access). The idea being that the way that touch screens are used on tablet and smart phones could potentially 'separate out' those with autism from those with not-autism.Based on a small participant number of "37 children 3–6 years old with autism and 45 age- and gender-matched children developing typically" researchers set about examinin........ Read more »

  • September 11, 2016
  • 03:12 PM

A microRNA plays role in major depression

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A tiny RNA appears to play a role in producing major depression, the mental disorder that affects as many as 250 million people a year worldwide. Major depression, formally known as major depressive disorder, or MDD, brings increased risk of suicide and is reported to cause the second-most years of disability after low-back pain.

... Read more »

  • September 10, 2016
  • 03:09 PM

Social connectedness can increase suicide risk

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Community characteristics play an important role in perpetuating teen suicide clusters and thwarting prevention efforts, according to a new study by sociologists who examined clusters in a single town. The study illustrates how the homogeneous culture and high degree of social connectedness of a community can increase suicide risk, particularly among teenagers.

... Read more »

  • September 10, 2016
  • 04:27 AM

Prevalence of self-injurious behaviors among children with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Just over a quarter of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with self-injurious behaviour (SIB).That was the headline finding reported by Gnakub Soke and colleagues [1] who surveyed the 8000+ children "in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network during the 2000, 2006, and 2008 surveillance years." THE ADDM network, as some people might know, is one and the same network that comes up with the [estimated] prevalence of autism in the Unit........ Read more »

Soke GN, Rosenberg SA, Hamman RF, Fingerlin T, Robinson C, Carpenter L, Giarelli E, Lee LC, Wiggins LD, Durkin MS.... (2016) Brief Report: Prevalence of Self-injurious Behaviors among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder-A Population-Based Study. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 27565654  

  • September 9, 2016
  • 02:16 PM

Study could herald new treatment for muscular dystrophy

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

New research has shown that the corticosteroid deflazacort is a safe and effective treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The findings could pave the way for first U.S.-approved treatment for the disease.

... Read more »

Griggs, R., Miller, J., Greenberg, C., Fehlings, D., Pestronk, A., Mendell, J., Moxley, R., King, W., Kissel, J., Cwik, V.... (2016) Efficacy and safety of deflazacort vs prednisone and placebo for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Neurology, 10. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000003217  

  • September 9, 2016
  • 12:10 PM

Statin Therapy: Rethinking Benefits and Risks

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

A recent 30-page manuscript provides an exhaustive review of the evidence for the efficacy and safety of statin therapy.The authors of this excellent review provide some context for the relative value of statins.The note that putting 10000 individuals with a history of a vascular event on a statin drug for 5 years would prevent 1,000 subsequent events. This is an example of secondary prevention--preventing another adverse outcome in those already experiencing an adverse event.But the statin drug........ Read more »

Collins, Rory, Reith, Christina, & Emberson, Jonathan. (2016) Interpretation of the evidence for the efficacy and safety of statin therapy. Lancet. info:/

  • September 9, 2016
  • 02:40 AM

Post-exertional malaise (PEM) in CFS might mean more than one thing

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The results suggest that post-exertional malaise [PEM] is composed of two empirically different experiences, one for generalized fatigue and one for muscle-specific fatigue."So said the findings reported by Stephanie McManimen and colleagues [1] looking at one of the most common and debilitating aspects of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and how rough-and-ready generalised descriptions often do little to reveal the complexities of this particular sympt........ Read more »

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