Brain imaging links language delay to chromosome deletion in children with neuro disorders

Children born with a DNA abnormality on chromosome 16 already linked to neurodevelopmental problems show measurable delays in processing sound and language, says a study team of radiologists and psychologists.

By strengthening the case that the deleted gene disrupts a key biological pathway, the research may lay the foundation for future medical treatments for specific subtypes of autism, along with cognitive and language disabilities.

Siblings of children with autism can show signs at 18 months

Published in the October Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, this is the first large-scale, multi-site study aimed at identifying specific social-communicative behaviors that distinguish infants with ASD from their typically and atypically developing high-risk peers as early as 18 months of age.

Researchers discover a “switch” in Alzheimer’s and stroke patient brains

A new study by researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) has identified a chemical “switch” that controls both the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells and the survival of existing nerve cells in the brain. The switch that shuts off the signals that promote neuron production and survival is in abundance in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and stroke victims. The studysuggests that chemical switch, MEF2, may be a potential therapeutic target to protect against neuronal loss in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and autism.

Researchers find genetic link to autism known as CHD8 mutation

In their study of 6,176 children with autism spectrum disorder, researchers found 15 had a CHD8 mutation and all these cases had similar characteristics in appearance and issues with sleep disturbance and gastrointestinal problems. Bernier and his team interviewed all 15 cases with CHD8 mutations. Bernier said this is the first time researchers have shown a definitive cause of autism to a genetic mutation.

Keep the Change

Read below to watch the trailer for "Keep the Change". This film was shown at the 2014 Sprout Film Festival and highlights love and connection between two individuals attending a support group for those with developmental disabilities. CNS Foundation spoke with director Rachel Israel and Tangerine Entertainment about the making the film, what they have learned, and about turing the short into a feature film.

UC Davis MIND Institute study finds association between maternal exposure to agricultural pesticides, autism in offspring

The large, multisite California-based study examined associations between specific classes of pesticides, including organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates, applied during the study participants’ pregnancies and later diagnoses of autism and developmental delay in their offspring. “This study validates the results of earlier research that has reported associations between having a child with autism and prenatal exposure to agricultural chemicals in California,” said lead study author Janie F. Shelton, a UC Davis graduate student who now consults with the United Nations. “While we still must investigate whether certain sub-groups are more vulnerable to exposures to these compounds than others, the message is very clear: Women who are pregnant should take special care to avoid contact with agricultural chemicals whenever possible.”

Penn Team Links Placental Marker of Prenatal Stress to Neurodevelopmental Problems

New findings by University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine scientists suggest that an enzyme found in the placenta is likely playing an important role. This enzyme, O-linked-N-acetylglucosamine transferase, or OGT, translates maternal stress into a reprogramming signal for the brain before birth. “By manipulating this one gene, we were able to recapitulate many aspects of early prenatal stress,” said Tracy L. Bale, senior author on the paper and a professor in the Department of Animal Biology at Penn Vet. “OGT seems to be serving a role as the ‘canary in the coal mine,’ offering a readout of mom’s stress to change the baby’s developing brain.”

Families With an Autistic Child Are a Third Less Likely to Have More Kids

Parents who have a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are about one third less likely to have more children than families without an affected child, according to a study led by a UC San Francisco researcher. The findings stem from the largest study of its kind on further child bearing after a child has been diagnosed with the disorder. These are the first data to indicate that this is a reproductive decision. “While it has been postulated that parents who have a child with ASD may be reluctant to have more children, this is first time that anyone has analyzed the question with hard numbers,” said Neil Risch, PhD, a UCSF professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and director of the UCSF Institute for Human Genetics. Most previous research into the heredity of autism has ignored a possible decision on the part of parents with affected children to reduce their subsequent child-bearing, a situation that occurs with some birth defects and has been termed “reproductive stoppage.” As a result, previous estimates of the odds of having a second child with the disorder may have made the risk appear lower than it actually is.

Costs of autism add up: study

The main drivers of costs among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) were special education and lost productivity for parents, researchers found. Among adults, the main drivers of costs were residential care and their own lost productivity. “I think they really are the most thorough and trustworthy estimates that we have,” Tristram Smith said. They compiled the data and found that the lifetime cost of supporting a person with an ASD and intellectual disability - formerly referred to as mental retardation - added up to $2.4 million in the U.S. and about $2.2 million in the UK.

Google, Autism Speaks team up on database of whole genomes

The Internet giant will house research data from 10,000 complete genomes of people with autism and their family members on its computer servers and will provide tools to analyze the data. Harnessing Google's massive computing power could lead to a better understanding of what causes various types of autism and how to treat them, said Bob Wright, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Autism Speaks. "This is the only way to break down the data barriers that surround autism," Wright said.