November 6, 2013 |
Children with autism spectrum disorders usually aren't diagnosed until they are at least 2 years old, but a new study finds that signs of the condition are apparent as early as two months after birth. Researchers focused on babies' ability to make eye contact with caregivers, since lack of eye contact is one of the hallmarks of autism. Among typical children, interest in the eyes increased steadily with age. But for children with autism, interest in the eyes waned starting between 2 and 6 months of age. By the time they reached their second birthdays, levels of eye fixation among children with autism were only half as high as levels seen in typically developing children, according to a report published Wednesday by the journal Nature.
June 8, 2011 |
Autism spectrum disorders can be caused by as many as 300 or so rare genetic mutations, scientists reported Wednesday. The research strongly implicates genetics, including spontaneous gene mutations, in the development of the disorder. But why do four times as many males as females develop autism spectrum disorder? In one of the three papers published in the journal Neuron , researchers suggest that girls are more resistant to gene mutations than boys. Girls seem to require a higher number of gene mutations to become afflicted with autism spectrum disorder.
June 9, 2011 |
Autism is not caused by one or two gene defects but probably by hundreds of different mutations, many of which arise spontaneously, according to research that examined the genetic underpinnings of the disorder in more than 1,000 families. The findings, reported in three studies published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, cast autism disorders as genetically very complex, involving many potential changes in DNA that may produce, essentially, different forms of autism. The affected genes, however, appear to be part of a large network involved in controlling the development of synapses, the critical junctions between nerve cells that allow them to communicate, according to one of the three studies.
April 24, 2013 |
Pregnant women who took the anti-seizure drug valproate during pregnancy increased the odds that their baby would have autism, and were roughly twice as likely to give birth to a child who would go on to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, according to a large study that captured 10 years of births in Denmark. Valproate, often known by its commercial name Depakote, is widely prescribed in the treatment of epilepsy and a wide range of psychiatric conditions. It is one of a class of drugs that has been linked to a child's delayed cognitive development and to some congenital malformations.
December 3, 2013 |
Oxytocin, the "cuddle" hormone that makes mothers' milk flow, men faithful to their mates and even tough negotiators more trusting, also makes children with autism more attuned to social cues in others, a new study says. The study found that compared to autistic children who got a placebo nasal spray, autistic children who got a puff of oxytocin up the nose responded to pictures of people's faces with greater activation in their brains' "social circuits" and in the regions key to reward and motivation.
October 11, 2010
UPDATED: An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed the research to the University of Washington. Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine have uncovered more evidence of a genetic basis for autism. Reviewing surveys collected from more than 1,000 families with autistic kids, they discovered that siblings of autistic children who have not been diagnosed with the disease often exhibit mild traits of autism, including speech delays. The team sifted through information about almost 3,000 children from 1,235 families in which at least one child was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and in which there was at least one full biological sibling.