Monthly Research Articles

Scientists and researchers are constantly uncovering more information related to autism, offering insights into the origins, possible causes and even at times potential cures. I come across dozens of articles on a weekly basis, some of which seem more important than others. I thought I would share on a monthly basis stories that caught my eye.

~ Maureen

researchFlurry of studies hint at folic acid’s protective role in autism

Folic acid, a B vitamin, may lower autism risk and ease features of the condition, according to findings from five unrelated studies published over the past few months. Three of the studies suggest that prenatal supplements of folic acid offset autism risk associated with in utero exposure to epilepsy drugs or toxic chemicals1,2,3. The supplements are also known to prevent birth defects. Another study found that people with autism and their immediate family members are more likely than controls to carry immune molecules that could block folate’s passage into the brain4.

Read the full article here.

New tool may speed up drugs to ease need for sameness in autism

Scientists have been investigating the brain systems that underlie the need for sameness by developing tasks aimed at measuring cognitive issues that may underlie this need. Importantly, for one of these tasks, they have developed parallel versions for people and for mice, using them to better understand the need for sameness to find ways of moderating this trait.

Read the full article here.

Cancer drug shows promise for treating some forms of autism

A low dose of a drug used to treat lymphoma may ease social problems in some forms of autism, a mouse study suggests. Specifically, the drug might be beneficial for children with autism who carry mutations that affect chromatin, the coiled complex of DNA and protein. The mice in the study lack part of SHANK3, a gene mutated in up to 2 percent of people with autism. The mice have several features reminiscent of autism, including anxiety, repetitive behaviors and social problems. A low dose of the drug, romidepsin, alters chromatin and normalizes social behavior in young SHANK3 mutants for at least three weeks, says lead researcher Zhen Yan, professor of physiology and biophysics at the State University of New York in Buffalo.

Read the full article here.

Unlike Vaccines, This Is What Actually Might Cause Autism

A new report published this week in Molecular Psychiatry determined that a pregnant woman who had fevers, particularly during her second trimester, was 40 percent more likely to have a child with autism. “Maternal exposure to second-trimester fever was associated with increased autism spectrum disorder risk,” the team wrote.

Read the full article here.

Autism brains show widespread alterations in structure

The brains of people with autism show a variety of structural differences from those of controls, according to a large imaging study. The differences appear throughout the brain, not just in regions linked to the condition. The findings suggest that many more regions are involved in autism than previously thought. “It could be that abnormalities are more prominent in the social brain, but not purely and only in the social brain,” says lead researcher Jan Buitelaar, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Read the full story here.

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