Changes in scores of genes contribute to autism risk — Newfound genetic differences provide many hints at causes – Small differences in as many as a thousand genes contribute to risk for autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This new study examined data on several types of rare, genetic differences in more than 14,000 DNA samples from parents, affected children, and unrelated individuals.
Autism – Study finds association between maternal exposure to agricultural pesticides – Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay.
A single spray of oxytocin improves brain function in children with autism – A single dose of the hormone oxytocin, delivered via nasal spray, has been shown to enhance brain activity while processing social information in children with autism spectrum disorders.
Induced or augmented childbirth appears to be associated with increased risk for autism – An analysis of North Carolina birth and educational records suggests that induction (stimulating uterine contractions prior to the onset of spontaneous labor) and augmentation (increasing the strength, duration, or frequency of uterine contractions with spontaneous onset of labor) during childbirth appears to be associated with increased odds of autism diagnosis in childhood.
DNA markers in low-IQ autism suggest heredity – Researchers are striving to understand the different genetic structures that underlie at least a subset of autism spectrum disorders. In cases where the genetic code is in error, did that happen anew in the patient, perhaps through mutation or copying error, or was it inherited? A new study in the American Journal of Human Genetics finds evidence that there may often be a recessive, inherited genetic contribution in autism with significant intellectual disability.
Drug could improve working memory of people with autism, study finds – People with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have trouble communicating and interacting with others because they process language, facial expressions and social cues differently. Previously, researchers found that propranolol, a drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure, anxiety and panic, could improve the language abilities and social functioning of people with an ASD. Now, University of Missouri investigators say the prescription drug also could help improve the working memory abilities of individuals with autism.
New NIH funding for two Autism Centers of Excellence — A total of 11 centers now funded for up to five years – The National Institutes of Health has awarded $5.3 million in initial one-year funding to the latest two recipients of the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) program. With these awards, announced on World Autism Awareness Day, these and nine other ACE centers in US are now being funded for up to five years.