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Autism (sometimes called “classical autism”) is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests. Other ASDs include Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). Experts estimate that three to six children out of every 1,000 will have autism. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females.
Changes in ADNP gene may provide further insight into causes of autism

Changes in ADNP gene may provide further insight into causes of autism

A new study from Bradley Hospital has identified a genetic change in a recently identified autism-associated gene, which may provide further insight into the causes of autism. The study, now published online in the Journal of Medical Genetics, presents findings that likely represent a definitive clinical marker for some patients' developmental disabilities. [More]
Zebrafish and virus help scientists map the living brain

Zebrafish and virus help scientists map the living brain

A virus and a zebrafish are helping scientists map the living brain. "You can kinda draw a diagram and see how cells within it are connected in a functioning brain," said Dr. Albert Pan, neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. [More]
Intervention program to help parents manage children's behaviors after being diagnosed with autism

Intervention program to help parents manage children's behaviors after being diagnosed with autism

In a first of its kind clinical trial, Debra Zand, Ph.D., and her team at Saint Louis University, will run an intervention program to help parents address and manage their children's challenging behaviors immediately after being diagnosed with autism. [More]
Female rats whose great grandparents exposed to toxins become more vulnerable to stress

Female rats whose great grandparents exposed to toxins become more vulnerable to stress

Scientists have known that toxic effects of substances known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), found in both natural and human-made materials, can pass from one generation to the next, but new research shows that females with ancestral exposure to EDC may show especially adverse reactions to stress. [More]
First Edition: August 22, 2014

First Edition: August 22, 2014

Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "How much leeway do employers and insurers have in deciding whether they'll cover contraceptives without charge and in determining which methods make the cut? Not much, as it turns out, but that hasn't stopped some from trying. Kaiser Health News readers still write in regularly describing battles they're waging to get the birth control coverage they're entitled to" (Andrews, 8/22). [More]
Children and adolescents with autism have surplus of synapses in brain

Children and adolescents with autism have surplus of synapses in brain

Children and adolescents with autism have a surplus of synapses in the brain, and this excess is due to a slowdown in a normal brain "pruning" process during development, according to a study by neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). [More]
Penn Medicine launches CAROT to build novel therapies for retinal and ocular disorders

Penn Medicine launches CAROT to build novel therapies for retinal and ocular disorders

The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has launched the Penn Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics (CAROT) to build on its previous success developing novel therapies for the personalized diagnosis and treatment of retinal and ocular disorders. [More]
Amygdala stimulates stress responses in adults, say researchers

Amygdala stimulates stress responses in adults, say researchers

In contrast to evidence that the amygdala stimulates stress responses in adults, researchers at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University have found that the amygdala has an inhibitory effect on stress hormones during the early development of nonhuman primates. [More]
Deep sequencing technique opens up new possibilities for finding genetic causes for brain disorder

Deep sequencing technique opens up new possibilities for finding genetic causes for brain disorder

Not every cell in the body is the same genetically, and disease-causing mutations don't necessarily affect every cell—making these mutations easy to miss even with next-generation genomic sequencing. [More]
Genetics may underpin psychiatric comorbidity in bipolar patients

Genetics may underpin psychiatric comorbidity in bipolar patients

Relatives of people with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of developing not only bipolarity but also other psychiatric disorders, according to Swedish researchers. [More]
Scientists develop algorithm to uncover genomic insertions and deletions involved in autism, OCD

Scientists develop algorithm to uncover genomic insertions and deletions involved in autism, OCD

With three billion letters in the human genome, it seems hard to believe that adding a DNA base here or removing a DNA base there could have much of an effect on our health. [More]

York U study: Adults with autism more likely to be sexually victimized

Adults with autism are at a higher risk of sexual victimization than adults without, due to lack of sex education, but with improved interventions that focus on sexual knowledge and skill building, the risk could be reduced, according to a recent study by York University researchers. [More]
NIH-funded study explores how thalamic reticular nucleus influences consciousness

NIH-funded study explores how thalamic reticular nucleus influences consciousness

Ever wonder why it's hard to focus after a bad night's sleep? Using mice and flashes of light, scientists show that just a few nerve cells in the brain may control the switch between internal thoughts and external distractions. [More]
Illness-linked genetic variation affects connections among neurons in the developing brain

Illness-linked genetic variation affects connections among neurons in the developing brain

A genetic variation linked to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression wreaks havoc on connections among neurons in the developing brain, a team of researchers reports. [More]

Fielding Graduate University acquires PhD program in infant and early childhood development

Fielding Graduate University, based in Santa Barbara, California, has recently acquired a nationally recognized doctoral program in infant and early childhood development from The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning). [More]
State highlights: Fed. judge in Ore. rules health plan wrongly denied autism coverage; new rules could disrupt care for disabled Kansans

State highlights: Fed. judge in Ore. rules health plan wrongly denied autism coverage; new rules could disrupt care for disabled Kansans

In a potentially far-reaching opinion, a federal judge in Portland has ruled that Providence Health Plan wrongfully denied insurance coverage for groundbreaking autism therapy for two Portland boys. [More]
Reducing brain levels of tau protein effectively blocks development of childhood epilepsy

Reducing brain levels of tau protein effectively blocks development of childhood epilepsy

Researchers at the Gladstone Institutes have shown that reducing brain levels of the protein tau effectively blocks the development of disease in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome, a severe intractable form of childhood epilepsy. [More]

New resource guide provides solutions for preparing individuals with intellectual disabilities

"When my family and I went to my first education planning meeting in high school, we had no idea what to expect or even ask," said 20-year-old Alexis Wineman, college student and Miss Montana 2012, who was diagnosed with autism at age 11. "I am struggling to advocate for myself now that I am an adult and my parents can no longer speak for me." [More]
New model provides insight into neurofunctional mechanisms of autism

New model provides insight into neurofunctional mechanisms of autism

An analysis of autism research covering genetics, brain imaging, and cognition led by Laurent Mottron of the University of Montreal has overhauled our understanding of why autism potentially occurs, develops and results in a diversity of symptoms. [More]
Blood expression levels of genes targeted by stress hormones could be biomarker for developing PTSD

Blood expression levels of genes targeted by stress hormones could be biomarker for developing PTSD

Blood expression levels of genes targeted by the stress hormones called glucocorticoids could be a physical measure, or biomarker, of risk for developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to a study conducted in rats by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published August 11 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). [More]