Brain alterations in preterm babies may begin weeks before birth

Brain alterations in preterm babies may begin weeks before birth

a-baby-in-the-wombAlterations in the developing brain that can put preterm babies at risk of autism, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disorders may begin in the womb. This is the finding of a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Preterm birth is defined as the birth of an infant prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. In the United States, around 1 in every 10 infants born in 2015 were preterm. (more…)

Autism is on the Rise, Or is it the Detection on the Rise

Autism is on the Rise, Or is it the Detection on the Rise

explaining-autismIs the increasing rise in cases of Autism due to more instances of the spectrum disorder, or are advances in diagnostics leading to more detection, and therefor, more known cases?

Via Time

A new study suggests changes in diagnostic rules have caused increases in autism cases

“This study is important because it shows a large part of the increase has nothing to do with the environment, but rather administrative decisions,” says study author Stefan Hansen of Aarhus University in Denmark.

The researchers followed 677,915 Danish children born between 1980 and 1991 and tracked them until they either had an autism diagnosis or reached the study end date of Dec. 31, 2011. Hansen and his team looked specifically at changes that occurred before and after the year 1994, when criteria for psychiatric diagnoses changed in Denmark so that autism became a spectrum of disorders, broadening the criteria for diagnosis. The researchers found significantly more children were diagnosed with autism in 1995 and on, and the team was able to determine that 60% of the increase could be attributed to these criteria changes.

“I am not saying it explains everything,” says Hansen. “There’s the remaining 40%, so we shouldn’t stop here.” That 40% is important if researchers want to understand all the contributing factors to the disease he says.

SOURCE: http://time.com/3652619/autism-diagnosis/

AUTISM: Advancements in Understanding in 2014

AUTISM: Advancements in Understanding in 2014

autism-awareness-magnets-puzzleNot long ago, Autism was a complete mystery and patients were often mis-diagnosed with other disorders and treated with unacceptable means. We now know that “Autism” it is a complex mixture of symptoms caused by a complex mixture of factors. Both Genetic and environmental factors contribute to a diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

The often-used symbol for autism is a puzzle piece consisting of other puzzle pieces, and this is probably the best way to describe the spectrum disorder. In our quest for better understanding of the spectrum and individual cases, often questions answered only open new questions.

In 2014, researchers learned more about Autism than ever before. Discoveries have ranged from addressing pre-natal development to adulthood. Below are 4 ways that our understanding of ASD has improved in 2014. (more…)

Examining the Relationship Between Epilepsy and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Examining the Relationship Between Epilepsy and Autism Spectrum Disorder

ccdc453872a80a9612d3654c2fd96ea4During the NDC Symposium-Neurobiology of Disease in Children: Session I: Clinical Aspects at the 43rd Annual Child Neurology Society Meeting, held in Columbus, OH, October 22-25, Roberto Tuchman, MD, delivered a presentation that looked some of the mechanisms shared by epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that lead to overlapping symptoms, and reviewed current research on the prevalence of co-morbid epilepsy and ASD in children.

Tuchman is the director of the Brain Development Network at Miami Children’s Hospital Dan Marino Center, and professor I the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry & Behavioral Health at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, FIU.

He noted that ASD-epilepsy co-diagnosis is fairly common, with one study using data from the nationwide Norwegian Patient Register (n=731,318) found that 11.2% of children diagnosed with ASD also had epilepsy, and 6.1% of children with epilepsy had a co-existing diagnosis of ASD. Another study revealed that intellectual disability (defined for the study as an IQ<70) is a clinical feature shared by ASD and epilepsy. In that study (a meta-analysis of 24 studies) researchers found that nearly 1 in 5 (21.4%) patients with ASD and intellectual disability also had epilepsy, compared with only 8% of patients with ASD and no intellectual disability.   (more…)

First diagnostic criteria proposed for Christianson Syndrome

First diagnostic criteria proposed for Christianson Syndrome

screening-tests-vs-diagnostic-testsBecause the severe autism-like condition Christianson Syndrome was only first reported in 1999 and some symptoms take more than a decade to appear, families and doctors urgently need fundamental information about it. A new study that doubles the number of cases now documented in the scientific literature provides the most definitive characterization of CS to date. The authors therefore propose the first diagnostic criteria for the condition.

“We’re hoping that clinicians will use these criteria and that there will be more awareness among clinicians and the community about Christianson Syndrome,” said Brown University biology and psychiatry Assistant Professor Dr. Eric Morrow, senior author of the study in press in the Annals of Neurology. “We’re also hoping this study will impart an opportunity for families to predict what to expect for their child and what’s a part of the syndrome.”

In conducting their study, which includes detailed behavioral, medical and genetic observations of 14 boys with CS from 12 families, the team of scientists and physicians worked closely with families of the small but fast-growing Christianson Syndrome Association , including hosting the group’s inaugural conference at Brown’s Alpert Medical School last summer. (more…)

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