Autism News

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Autism linked to abnormal gut bacteria and abnormal energy metabolism


Gut MicrobesIn a new study, researchers have found an association between a blood marker indicating the presence of abnormal gut bacteria and autism in some children diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disorder.

In the journal Translational Psychiatry, the investigators describe finding evidence of impaired energy metabolism in a group of autistic children due to high levels of propionic acid produced by certain gut bacteria frequently found in those with autism. 

Autism rates have been steadily climbing in recent decades, with an estimated 1 in 88 children now diagnosed with the disorder, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This figure puts the incidence of the disorder at roughly twice what it was only a decade ago. Although better diagnoses and reporting may go some way to explain this, most researchers and doctors agree that autism is more common than it used to be. 

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Investigation of genetic and environmental influences on autism development to be helped by new twins data


Autism Speaks LogoAutism Speaks recently announced the release of biological and clinical data from 383 new families participating in Autism Speaks Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE). The data will greatly help researchers study the genetic and environmental influences on development of the developmental disorder.

Autism Speaks is the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. AGRE is a resource for scientists that is comprised of clinical and biological data from families who have two or more children on the autism spectrum; AGRE now provides data on 3348 individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a total of 9335 people including non-autistic family members.

"One of the biggest challenges for researchers is trying to recruit families and gather information for their research in a timely manner," said Autism Speaks Vice President of Clinical Affairs Clara Lajonchere. "AGRE accelerates the pace of research by taking these time-consuming steps out of the hands of researchers, so they can spend their time and effort analyzing the data and looking for answers now." AGRE's job has been to gather DNA, clinical, and medical information from families throughout the United States, making it the world's first collaborative resource for autism research worldwide.

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ADHD risk increased by mercury and lead exposures


Girl with ADHD​By Marla Cone
Editor in Chief
Environmental Health News
September 21, 2012

Children exposed to higher levels of mercury or lead are three to five times more likely to be identified by teachers as having problems associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, according to a scientific study published today.

The study – of Inuit children living in Arctic Quebec –  is the first to find a high rate of attention-deficit symptoms in children highly exposed to mercury in the womb. In addition, the Inuit children more often had hyperactivity symptoms if they were exposed to the same low levels of lead commonly found in young U.S. children.

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Autism linked to less folic acid during pregnancy


Folic Acid SupplementA new retrospective study has found that women who consumed lower amounts of folic acid during the early stages of pregnancy were more likely to have a child who developed autism.

Consuming the recommended minimum of 600 milligrams per day of the B vitamin folate - found naturally in foods and in the form of folic acid in prenatal supplements and fortified foods  - during the first month of pregnancy was associated with a 38 percent lower chance of having a child on the autism spectrum, researchers reported last week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Folic acid supplementation has been recommended to pregnant women and those expecting to become pregnant since the link was made between deficiency and neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Fortification of processed foods in which natural folate is removed such as white bread, other white grains, and breakfast cereals has also been implemented in many countries.

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Sutterella bacteria linked to autism with digestive symptoms


Sutterella Bacteria​New research has found that a little known genus of bacteria named Sutterella may play a significant role in the symptomology of cases of autism that also involve digestive disturbances.

Gastrointestinal disturbances are commonly reported in children with autism and may be associated with changes in the composition of the intestinal bacteria. The role of the gut microbiota is increasingly being recognised by scientists as playing an important role in health and disease.

Researchers from the Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University, New York, had proposed that unusual composition of intestinal bacteria was associated with autism with gastrointestinal involvement (AUT-GI). They had previously demonstrated that  some AUT-GI children were carrying bacteria from the family Alcaligenaceae in their guts, while the same was not the case for children in a control group who had gastrointestinal complaints but not autism (Control-GI).

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