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- Eating problems and overlap with ADHD and autism spectrum disorders in a nationwide twin study of 9- and 12-year-old children. [Journal Article]
- ScientificWorldJournal 2013.:315429.
Aim.To establish the prevalence of restrictive eating problems, the overlap and association with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and to estimate the heritability of eating problems in a general population sample of twins aged 9 and 12. Methods. Parents of all Swedish 9- and 12-year-old twin pairs born between 1993 and 1998 (n = 12,366) were interviewed regarding symptoms of ADHD, ASD, and eating problems (EAT-P). Intraclass correlations and structural equation modelling were used for evaluating the influence of genetic and environmental factors. Cross-twin, cross-trait correlations were used to indicate a possible overlap between conditions.
Results.The prevalence of eating problems was 0.6% in the study population and was significantly higher in children with ADHD and/or ASD. Among children with eating problems, 40% were screened positive for ADHD and/or ASD. Social interaction problems were strongly associated with EAT-P in girls, and impulsivity and activity problems with EAT-P in boys. The cross-twin, cross-trait correlations suggested low correlations between EAT-P and ADHD or EAT-P and ASD. Genetic effects accounted for 44% of the variation in liability for eating problems.
Conclusions.In the group with eating problems, there was a clear overrepresentation of individuals with ADHD and/or ASD symptoms.
- Linking infant-directed speech and face preferences to language outcomes in infants at risk for autism spectrum disorder. [Journal Article]
- J Speech Lang Hear Res 2013 Apr; 56(2):567-76.
In this study, the authors aimed to examine whether biases for infant-directed (ID) speech and faces differ between infant siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (SIBS-A) and infant siblings of typically developing children (SIBS-TD), and whether speech and face biases predict language outcomes and risk group membership.Thirty-six infants were tested at ages 6, 8, 12, and 18 months. Infants heard 2 ID and 2 adult-directed (AD) speech passages paired with either a checkerboard or a face. The authors assessed expressive language at 12 and 18 months and general functioning at 12 months using the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (Mullen, 1995).Both infant groups preferred ID to AD speech and preferred faces to checkerboards. SIBS-TD demonstrated higher expressive language at 18 months than did SIBS-A, a finding that correlated with preferences for ID speech at 12 months. Although both groups looked longer to face stimuli than to the checkerboard, the magnitude of the preference was smaller in SIBS-A and predicted expressive vocabulary at 18 months in this group. Infants' preference for faces contributed to risk-group membership in a logistic regression analysis.Infants at heightened risk of ASD differ from typically developing infants in their preferences for ID speech and faces, which may underlie deficits in later language development and social communication.
- Initial Efficacy of Project ImPACT: A Parent-Mediated Social Communication Intervention for Young Children with ASD. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- J Autism Dev Disord 2013 May 21.
Project ImPACT is a parent-mediated social communication intervention for young children with ASD that was developed in community settings to encourage dissemination. A single-subject, multiple-baseline design was conducted across 8 preschoolers with ASD and their mothers to examine the efficacy of the model for improving parent intervention fidelity and child spontaneous language. Multilevel modeling was used to examine the relationship between parent fidelity and child language within session. All parents increased their use of the intervention techniques. Improvements in spontaneous use of language targets were observed for 6 of the 8 children. There was a significant association between parents' use of the intervention strategies and their child's spontaneous language use.
- An open-label pilot study of a formulation containing the anti-inflammatory flavonoid luteolin and its effects on behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders. [Journal Article]
- Clin Ther 2013 May; 35(5):592-602.
Accumulating evidence suggests an association between autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and inflammation in brain regions related to cognitive function. The natural flavonoid luteolin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, mast cell-blocking, and neuroprotective effects. It was shown to improve cognitive performance in a mouse model of ASD, but its effect in humans has not been adequately studied.The goal of this study was to assess the effectiveness and tolerability in white children with ASD of a dietary supplement containing 2 flavonoids (>95% pure), luteolin (100 mg/capsule, from chamomile) and quercetin (70 mg/capsule), and the quercetin glycoside rutin (30 mg/capsule) from the Sophora japonica leaf, formulated in olive kernel oil to increase oral absorption.Fifty children (4-10 years old; 42 boys and 8 girls) with ASD were enrolled in a 26-week, prospective, open-label trial at the 2nd University Department of Psychiatry at "Attikon" General Hospital, Athens, Greece. Children were referred for the study by their respective physicians or came from the practice of the senior author. ASD diagnosis by clinical assessment was based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, symptom list and corroborated by using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. The dose of the study formulation used was 1 capsule per 10 kg weight per day with food. The primary outcome measures were the age-equivalent scores in the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales domains. Secondary outcomes included the Aberrant Behavior Checklist, the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist, and the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement score. Data were measured at baseline, week 18, and week 26. Parents were interviewed for any possible improvements they noticed and instructed to report any unusual adverse events.A total of 40 children completed the protocol. There was a significant improvement in adaptive functioning as measured by using the VABS age-equivalent scores (8.43 months in the communication domain, 7.17 months in daily living skills, and 8 months in the social domain; P < 0.005), as well as in overall behavior as indicated by the reduction (26.6%-34.8%) in Aberrant Behavior Checklist subscale scores. Age, sex, and history of allergies had no effect on the results, whereas the initial level of functioning or difficulty did predict the final outcome in most of the measures used. There was a transient (1-8 weeks) increased irritability in 27 of the 50 participants.These results are encouraging in that the combination of the flavonoids luteolin and quercetin seemed to be effective in reducing ASD symptoms, with no major adverse effects. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01847521.
- Is a Subtype of Autism an Allergy of the Brain? [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Clin Ther 2013 May; 35(5):584-591.
BACKGROUND:Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by deficits in social communication and language and the presence of repetitive behaviors that affect as many as 1 in 50 US children. Perinatal stress and environmental factors appear to play a significant role in increasing the risk for ASDs. There is no definitive pathogenesis, which therefore significantly hinders the development of a cure.
OBJECTIVE:We aimed to identify publications using basic or clinical data that suggest a possible association between atopic symptoms and ASDs, as well as evidence of how such an association could lead to brain disease, that may explain the pathogenesis of ASD.
METHODS:PubMed was searched for articles published since 1995 that reported any association between autism and/or ASDs and any one of the following terms: allergy, atopy, brain, corticotropin-releasing hormone, cytokines, eczema, food allergy, food intolerance, gene mutation, inflammation, mast cells, mitochondria, neurotensin, phenotype, stress, subtype, or treatment.
RESULTS:Children with ASD respond disproportionally to stress and also present with food and skin allergies that involve mast cells. Brain mast cells are found primarily in the hypothalamus, which participates in the regulation of behavior and language. Corticotropin-releasing hormone is secreted from the hypothalamus under stress and, together with neurotensin, stimulates brain mast cells that could result in focal brain allergy and neurotoxicity. Neurotensin is significantly increased in serum of children with ASD and stimulates mast cell secretion of mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate and DNA, which is increased in these children; these mitochondrial components are misconstrued as innate pathogens, triggering an autoallergic response in the brain. Gene mutations associated with higher risk of ASD have been linked to reduction of the phosphatase and tensin homolog, which inhibits the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). These same mutations also lead to mast cell activation and proliferation. Corticotropin-releasing hormone, neurotensin, and environmental toxins could further trigger the already activated mTOR, leading to superstimulation of brain mast cells in those areas responsible for ASD symptoms. Preliminary evidence indicates that the flavonoid luteolin is a stronger inhibitor of mTOR than rapamycin and is a potent mast cell blocker.
CONCLUSION:Activation of brain mast cells by allergic, environmental, immune, neurohormonal, stress, and toxic triggers, especially in those areas associated with behavior and language, lead to focal brain allergies and subsequent focal encephalitis. This possibility is more likely in the subgroup of patients with ASD susceptibility genes that also involve mast cell activation.
- The relationship of autism and gluten. [Journal Article]
- Clin Ther 2013 May; 35(5):578-83.
Autism is now a common condition with a prevalence of 1 in 88 children. There is no known etiology. Speculation about possible treatments for autism or autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has included the use of various dietary interventions, including a gluten-free diet.The goal of this article was to review the literature available evaluating the use of gluten-free diets in patients with autism to determine if diet should be instituted as a treatment.A literature review was performed, identifying previously published studies in which a gluten-free diet was instituted as an autism treatment. These studies were not limited to randomized controlled trials because only 1 article was available that used a double-blind crossover design. Most publish reports were unblinded, observational studies.In the only double-blind, crossover study, no benefit of a gluten-free diet was identified. Several other studies did report benefit from gluten-free diet. Controlling for observer bias and what may have represented unrelated progress over time in these studies is not possible. There are many barriers to evaluating treatment benefits for patients with autism. Gluten sensitivity may present in a variety of ways, including gastrointestinal and neurologic symptoms. Although making a diagnosis of celiac disease is easier with new serology and genetic testing, a large number of gluten-sensitive patients do not have celiac disease. Testing to confirm non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not available.A variety of symptoms may be present with gluten sensitivity. Currently, there is insufficient evidence to support instituting a gluten-free diet as a treatment for autism. There may be a subgroup of patients who might benefit from a gluten-free diet, but the symptom or testing profile of these candidates remains unclear.
- Impact of Early Intervention on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders as Measured by Inclusion and Retention in Mainstream Schools. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Indian J Pediatr 2013 May 18.
OBJECTIVES:To follow up the school/educational status of children with a primary diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), who had been enrolled in an Early Intervention (EI) program for 1-3 y, before the age of 6.
METHODS:Data was collected through a questionnaire covering three specific areas-the families' success in following the recommendation given on completion of the EI program, issues in schooling and feedback on the EI program. The contact modes included email, post, telephonic interviews and face-to-face interviews.
RESULTS:One hundred and two of the 296 children responded to the questionnaire. The responses were analyzed to identify, the number of families who had completed the program and were able to follow through with the recommendation given on completion of the EI program, difficulties faced if any, family feedback on the program and the additional help that they would have liked to receive. The reasons for failure to comply with the recommendations were analyzed. Of the 102 children who responded seven had dropped out midway through the program and 10 had discontinued after one year. Of the remaining 85 who completed the program, 71 were advised mainstreaming (83.5 %) and 14 were advised special school (16.5 %). Sixty-five of the 71 children, who were advised to enroll their child in the mainstream, were in regular school. 76.5 % of the children who completed the EI program were integrated in regular schools, 2 to 7 y after having completed the program.
CONCLUSIONS:EI helps in enrolment and retention of substantial numbers of children with ASD in mainstream schools.
- A Meta-Analysis of Mentalizing Impairments in Adults With Schizophrenia and Autism Spectrum Disorder. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Schizophr Bull 2013 May 17.
Mentalizing has been examined both in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia (SCZ) primarily by either cognitive-linguistic (referred to as verbal) or emotion recognition from eyes (referred to as visual) mentalizing tasks. Each type of task is thought to measure different aspects of mentalizing. Differences in clinical features and developmental courses of each disorder may predict distinct patterns of mentalizing performance across dis orders on each type of task. To test this, a meta-analysis was conducted using 37 studies that assessed mentalizing either verbally or visually in adults with SCZ or ASD. We found that the estimated effect sizes of impairments in verbal and visual mentalizing tasks for both clinical groups were statistically large and at a similar level (overall Hedges' g = 0.73-1.05). For each disorder, adults with SCZ showed a trend towards larger impairments on verbal (overall Hedges' g = 0.99) than on visual mentalizing task (overall Hedges' g = 0.73; Qbet = 3.45, p =.06, df =1). Adults with ASD did not show different levels of impairment on the verbal versus visual tasks (Qbet = 0.08, p =.78, df =1). These results suggest that both clinical groups share, at least in part, some common cognitive processing deficits associated with mentalizing impairments.
- Deeper attentional masking by lateral objects in children with autism. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Brain Cogn 2013 May 14; 82(2):213-218.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is often associated with a detail-oriented perception and overselective attention in visual tasks, such as visual search and crowding. These results were obtained manipulating exclusively the spatial properties of the stimuli: few is known about the spatio-temporal dynamics of visual processing in ASD. In this study we employed an attentional masking (AM) paradigm comparing children with ASD and IQ-matched typically developing (TD) controls. The AM effect refers to an impaired identification of a target followed by a competitive masking object at different proximities in space and time. We found that ASD and TD groups did not differ in the AM effect provoked by the competitive object displayed in the same position of the target. In contrast, children with ASD showed a deeper and prolonged interference than the TD group when the masking object was displayed in the lateral position. These psychophysical results suggest that the inefficient attentional selection in ASD depends on the spatio-temporal interaction between competitive visual objects. These evidence are discussed in the light of the ASD altered neural connectivity hypothesis and the reentrant theory of perception.
- Transcatheter closure of an atrial septal defect with single coronary artery and retro-aortic right coronary artery. [Journal Article]
- Hellenic J Cardiol 2013 May-Jun; 54(3):221-3.
Isolated single coronary artery in the presence of an atrial septal defect (ASD) is a rare congenital anomaly. There are no clear guidelines regarding the management of ASD in these patients. Transcatheter closure of the ASD in the presence of a single coronary artery that has a retro-aortic course is a matter of concern because of the possible risk of coronary impingement by the left atrial disc. Here we report the first case of an ASD device closure in a patient with a retro-aortic right coronary artery. The immediate results were good; however, long-term follow up is warranted to look for late complications.