Research & Technology

Parent Age Related to Child’s Odds for Autism

In a new study of more than 9,500 children in Denmark who had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, researchers found that children born to a parent over the age of 35 had a higher risk of developing autism. Interestingly, the data also showed that the risk is the same whether both parents are older or only one of them is. 

Antidepressants and Pregnancy: Weighing Risks

Women who take antidepressants and learn that they are pregnant must consider not just the potential risks of the drugs but also the impact of untreated depression on a developing fetus. Untreated depression could lead to low birth weight, irritability in the child and developmental delays. Side effects of antidepressants can be similarly harmful: miscarriage, premature birth, and breathing problems in newborns. “There’s no path that’s really risk-free,” Pec Indman, a therapist who specializes in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, tells the Chicago Tribune.

Cystic Fibrosis Drug Kalydeco Shows Promise

Cystic Fibrosis affects 30,000 people in the U.S. It causes an imbalance of salt in the body, which affects the pancreas shortly after birth, impedes proper digestion, and causes airways to fill with mucus, leaving patients vulnerable to lung infections and other problems. Patients are often small and malnourished and tend to have overly salty skin due to sweat glands not working properly.

Using "Inner Speech" May Help Autism

Psychologists have found that people with autism possess the ability for "inner speech," which is the process of talking things through in their heads--though they do not use it in the same way as typically developing people. 

In a study conducted by researchers in the UK, the tendency to "think in words" was found to be strongly connected to a person’s communication skills. Because these skills are rooted in early childhood, the researchers suggest that teaching children with autism to think in words may help them better execute daily tasks later in life.

HPV Vaccine Does Not Trigger Autoimmune Issue

Autoimmune reactions have long been a concern connected with Gardisil, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. It has become common for the vaccine to be recommended to adolescents and young adults to protect against sexually transmitted infections, which can also lead to cervical cancer in females.

Clues to Treating Cancers Found in Genomes

Two biotech companies recently announced that sequencing the human genome--each person’s individual DNA blueprint--would soon be possible to do within a single day and for approximately $1,000. 

The day following this announcement, researchers at renowned St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN, and Washington University in Saint Louis, MO, reported that sequencing the genomes of patients with cancer might lead to better treatments.

Brain Scans Detect Early Signs of Dyslexia

Dyslexia is typically diagnosed in children when they are around second or third grade in school. A team from Children’s Hospital Boston reports that they have discovered signs of dyslexia in children as young as 4 or 5 years old by studying their brain scans. This could be monumental news for families, who "often know that their child has dyslexia as early as kindergarten but they can’t get interventions at their schools," says Nadine Gaab of the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience at Children’s.

Lip Reading Study Could Offer Autism Clues

A new study conducted by researchers at Florida Atlantic University is proving that infants use more than their ears to learn how to talk. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tested groups of babies ranging from four to 12 months as well as a group of adults for comparison. Some infants watched a video of a woman speaking in English (their native language), while others watched a woman speaking In Spanish (a foreign language to them). 

Facial Differences Found in Boys with Autism

COLUMBIA, Mo.  " The face develops from the same set of cells that are responsible for brain development, beginning with an embryo and continuing through the first 10-12 years of life. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found distinct differences between the facial characteristics of boys with autism compared to those of typically developing boys. This knowledge could help researchers understand the origins of autism. 

Study Says Autism Missed in Cases of Epilepsy

 In a study presented at the American Epilepsy Society’s (AES) 65th Annual Meeting, children under five years old who were seen at an epilepsy monitoring unit and a ketogenic diet clinic were tracked for six months. Seventy-seven percent of the children screened positive for developmental delays. Of the 77 percent, 36 percent were diagnosed with autism.