Jun 26, 2009 | 3
Scientists in Japan have tweaked the chromosomes of mice to make the animals act autistically. The engineered rodents display genetic impairments and behavior that mirror those of some humans with the disorder.
The work, published in Cell, provides direct evidence linking chromosome abnormalities (believed to be responsible for approximately 10% of autism cases) and autism. In some people with autism, a specific region of human chromosome 15 is doubled.
Mar 23, 2009 | 1
SAN FRANCISCO—We may all have a little bit of Narcissus in us. If the mythological figure were a modern-day pretty boy—say a Brad Pitt or a Matt Damon--a neuroscientist might interpret the infatuation with self not as a tragic flaw, but rather as a normal manifestation of the functioning of the superior temporal sulcus, the inferior frontal gyrus or some other brain structure lifted straight out of TV's Grey’s Anatomy.
Like Narcissus, neuroscientists have found that our own faces capture our rapt attention. We recognize emotions from sadness to disgust more readily on our own faces than in the same expressions made by others. And when we don’t, something may be very wrong. This insight, presented yesterday at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting here, seems fairly obvious at first glance.
Mar 13, 2009 | 18
You might be familiar with hyperbaric oxygen treatment, in which a patient breathes in extra oxygen while inside a pressurized chamber, as a therapy for the bends and carbon monoxide poisoning. But while a small segment of families with autistic children believe it helps their kids, insurance generally doesn’t pay for it, and many doctors are skeptical that it does any good.
New research in today's BMC Pediatrics may give the therapy more credibility as a treatment for autism. The randomized, double-blind controlled study of 62 children found that those who received 40 hours of treatment over a month were less irritable, more responsive when people spoke to them, made more eye contact and were more sociable than kids who didn’t receive it. They were also less sensitive to noise (some autistic children experience a kind of sensory overload from loud sounds and background noise). The most improvement was observed in kids older than five (the study included children ages two to seven) who had milder autism.
Feb 12, 2009 | 4
In a major legal setback for parents of children with autism, a special court today ruled that vaccines do not cause the disorder.
The U.S. Court of Claims—set up by Congress as part of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program—in long-awaited decisions said that years of scientific evidence indicated that there was no link between the measles–mumps–rubella (MMR) vaccine and the mysterious neurological condition.
"It was abundantly clear that petitioners' theories of causation were speculative and unpersuasive," the court ruled in one of three test cases considered. "The weight of scientific research and authority [was] simply more persuasive on nearly every point in contention."
Nov 3, 2008 | 4
Autism is more common in rainy, coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest than in drier, inland parts of three states in the region, according to new research that suggests a possible link between the brain disorder and precipitation.
Autism was twice as common in the damp counties west of the Cascade Mountains than in those east of the range, which get four times less rain, the study in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine shows. Kids in counties in California where rainfall was heavier also had higher rates of the disorder than children whose first three years of life were spent in drier weather.
Autism causes impaired social interactions, delayed speech, and repetitive movements or behaviors. For unknown reasons, autism prevalence has surged over the past 30 years from an estimated one in 2,500 to one in 150 U.S. children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It's not clear why those rates are more elevated in damp areas — including states not in the study such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine and Minnesota — but bad weather that keeps genetically vulnerable kids indoors could play a role, the study authors write.
Oct 27, 2008 | 27
Amid the hoopla about Sarah Palin's very un-hockey mom $150,000 campaign wardrobe, the Republican veep candidate managed to drop another flammable tidbit that set off the science community,
not to mention the blogosphere.
During a speech on her ticket's special needs policy last week, Palin, who has held up her Down's syndrome young son as a symbol of her kinship with all parents of special needs children, mocked earmarks better known as pork for eating up much-needed federal funds.
Sep 3, 2008
Routine vaccinations against the chicken pox have reduced the incidence of the itchy potentially serious virus by as much as 90 percent in the U.S. But the original one-shot protocol may not be as effective as the newer, two-dose regimen, new research suggests.
The vaccination program, launched in the U.S. in 1995, recommended that kids 12 months to 12 years old get immunized against chicken pox. Since then, the number of cases has dropped by 57-to-90 percent, according to government research published in the journal Pediatrics.
But the single shot, while 80-to-85 percent effective in preventing the disease, may not be enough to protect kids in schools and other "high-contact" settings. It's still too soon to tell if the double dosage, made routine in 2006, provides better protection, according to the study. (That regimen calls for the first shot at around 12 to 15 months of age – and the second between ages 4 and 6.)
Aug 22, 2008 | 94
If you didn't vaccinate your kids, you too could find yourself partly responsible for the resurgence of a disease thought eliminated in 2000.
Measles—a highly contagious disease-causing virus—is making a comeback in the U.S., thanks to parents fears over vaccines. Fifteen children under 20, including four babies, have been hospitalized and 131 sickened by the red splotches since the beginning of this year in 15 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The CDC had announced in 2000 that the disease was eliminated in the U.S. thanks to a vaccine that can completely control it. But fears of autism have led some parents to forego this treatment and at least 63 of the sickened children were unvaccinated.
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