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.
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.
August 9, 2013 |
Do women who are on the autism spectrum have brains that are more “masculine”? A team of researchers at Cambridge University's Autism Research Center has found striking similarities between the structural anomalies found in the brains of women with autism spectrum disorder and neurobiological characteristics known to be different between males and females in general. The results, published online Thursday in the review Brain , partially confirm aspects of an “extreme male brain” theory of autism put forth by Cambridge neuroscientist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues.
August 22, 2012 |
Men who become fathers later in life pass on more brand-new genetic mutations to their offspring, a study has found - probably contributing to disorders such as autism and schizophrenia in the next generation. The finding, published online Wednesday in the journal Nature , buttresses earlier observations that rates of autism and some other disorders are more prevalent in children born of older fathers, sometimes by a factor of two or more, experts said. Though this has been observed for years from population studies, scientists had not known what lay behind it. The new research, made possible by recent advances in DNA-sequencing technology, also should help correct an overemphasis on the riskiness of women giving birth at older ages, some researchers said.
March 20, 2013 |
U.S. schoolchildren are being diagnosed with some form of autism at a record rate of 1 in 50, according to a new government study. That rate of 2% is based on a survey involving tens of thousands of children between the ages of 6 and 17. A similar survey in 2007 found a rate of 1.2%. Though the increase is likely to fuel speculation that an expanding environmental threat is behind the rise in autism cases, the authors said their report did not support that view. Rather, better detection appears to be driving the surge, according to the researchers, from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.
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.