Author Interviews, Autism, Pediatrics / 05.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_50547" align="alignleft" width="200"]Andrey Vyshedskiy PhD Boston University, Boston Dr. Vyshedskiy[/caption] Andrey Vyshedskiy PhD Boston University, Boston MedicalResearch.com: What gave you the idea for the paper?   Response: I have been interested in the physical properties of imagination since I was nine years old, and was involved in related research since my undergraduate studies. Having been trained in neuroscience, I set out to understand the neurological basis of imagination pertaining to the differences between humans and other animals. In 2008, after fifteen years of research, I allowed myself to speculate on the subject, and published the first edition of “On the Origin of the Human Mind.” From that period to the present day, I have continued to work on the same subject.
Author Interviews, Autism, Occupational Health / 08.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_48453" align="alignleft" width="200"]Ginny Russell, PhDCollege of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter Medical SchoolUniversity of Exeter, College HouseExeter United Kingdom Dr. Russell[/caption] Ginny Russell, PhD College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter Medical School University of Exeter Exeter United Kingdom  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The study was done to find out what autistic adults could tell us about their own abilities. They told us about their abilities and how these abilities had helped them in their everyday lives: at work, in their relationships with other people, and at home. Hyper focus, attention to detail, and the ability to remember were the abilities that autistic people said benefitted them most often. But autistic adults who were interviewed said although their autistic traits were sometimes helpful, at other times they hindered their progress. So the same trait might be useful in some circumstances and unhelpful in other situations. For example, hypersensitivity led one person to enjoy nature, but was difficult to cope with in crowded streets. The study highlights this interchangeability.
Author Interviews, Autism, Social Issues, University of Pittsburgh, Vaccine Studies / 26.03.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_48157" align="alignleft" width="160"]Beth Hoffman, B.Sc., graduate studentUniversity of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public HealthResearch Assistant,University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health Beth Hoffman[/caption] Beth Hoffman, B.Sc., graduate student University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Research Assistant, University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Vaccine refusal is a public health crisis - low vaccination rates are leading to outbreaks of deadly vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2017, Kids Plus Pediatrics, a Pittsburgh-based pediatric practice, posted a video on its Facebook pagef eaturing its practitioners encouraging HPV vaccination to prevent cancer. Nearly a month after the video posted, it caught the attention of multiple anti-vaccination groups and, in an eight-day period, garnered thousands of anti-vaccination comments. Our team analyzed the profiles of a randomly selected sample of 197 commenters in the hopes that this crisis may be stemmed if we can better understand and communicate with vaccine-hesitant parents. We determined that, although Kids Plus Pediatrics is an independent practice caring for patients in the Pittsburgh region, the commenters in the sample were spread across 36 states and eight countries. By delving into the messages that each commenter had publicly posted in the previous two years, we also found that they clustered into four distinct subgroups:
  • “trust,” which emphasized suspicion of the scientific community and concerns about personal liberty;
  • “alternatives,” which focused on chemicals in vaccines and the use of homeopathic remedies instead of vaccination;
  • “safety,” which focused on perceived risks and concerns about vaccination being immoral; and
  • “conspiracy,” which suggested that the government and other entities hide information that this subgroup believes to be facts, including that the polio virus does not exist. 
Author Interviews, Autism, Cognitive Issues, JAMA / 04.01.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_46784" align="alignleft" width="158"]Tjasa Velikonja, PhD Department of Psychiatry The Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, New York Dr. Velikonja[/caption] Tjasa Velikonja, PhD Department of Psychiatry The Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, New York MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Autism is a lifelong condition, and challenges associated with autism persist from childhood into adulthood. Despite this, research and treatment have been largely dedicated to children. Because of that, we had very little understanding of what areas – what cognitive domains - are most severely impacted in adults with autism. Importantly, the lack of such information also limits treatment development in this area. What is known already is that adults with autism display deficits in social cognition (which refers to the role that cognitive processes play in our social interactions). Although our meta-analysis supported these theories, it also highlighted several other challenges in cognitive processing, such as deficits in processing speed and verbal learning and memory. And these impairments were observed in adults with autism without an overall intellectual disability.
ADHD, Author Interviews, Autism, JAMA, Pediatrics, UC Davis / 10.12.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_46451" align="alignleft" width="150"]Meghan Miller, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences UC Davis MIND Institute Sacramento, CA 95817 Dr. Miller[/caption] Meghan Miller, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences UC Davis MIND Institute Sacramento, CA 95817 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study evaluated within-diagnosis sibling recurrence and sibling cross-aggregation of ADHD and autism spectrum disorder among later-born siblings of diagnosed children. We specifically chose to include only families who had at least one subsequent child after the diagnosis of an older child because failing to do so could bias recurrence risk estimates. We found that, compared to later-born siblings of non-diagnosed children, later-born siblings of children with autism were more likely to be diagnosed with autism or with ADHD. Likewise, compared to later-born siblings of non-diagnosed children, later-born siblings of children with ADHD were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD or with autism.
Author Interviews, Autism, Pediatrics / 05.12.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael Kogan, Ph.D. Director of the office of Epidemiology and Research Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This was a study led by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, along with researchers from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention, Harvard, Drexel, and George Washington Universities.  We used the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, a nationally representative survey of over 50,000 children that examines the health and well-being of US children, to examine the prevalence, treatment, and health care experiences of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We found that 1 out of 40 children in the US were reported by their parents to have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  We also found that children with ASD were significantly less likely to receive services like needed care coordination, referrals to other services, and mental health counseling – even compared to children with other emotional, behavioral or developmental disorders (EBDs).  Parents of children with ASD were also significantly more likely to report being usually or always frustrated in their attempts to get services, again compared to families of children with other EBDs. Finally, we looked at treatment patterns for children with ASD and found that 64% had received behavioral therapy in the year before the interview, and 27% had received medications to treat symptoms of irritability. 
Author Interviews, Autism, Nature, Pediatrics / 27.11.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_46215" align="alignleft" width="149"]Michael Lombardo, PhD Assistant professor of Psychology the University of Cyprus  Dr. Lombardo[/caption] Michael Lombardo, PhD Assistant professor of Psychology the University of Cyprus  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Autism is a diagnostic label we give to children with difficulties in the areas of social-communication and restricted, repetitive stereotyped behaviors and interests. The diagnosis is made based on observations about behavior and is a consensus label, meaning that clinicians can show high degrees of agreement that a given set of behaviors is ‘autism’. But aside from the diagnostic label, there is a fair degree of heterogeneity within patients that have the diagnosis. One way in which patients are heterogeneous is with regard to early language development. Some toddlers with autism are minimally verbal, while at the other end, many toddlers with autism develop language typically. An important question to answer is whether that kind of difference in language development indicates a subtype with different underlying biology. To examine this question, we first split toddlers with autism into two subtypes defined by their language outcome at 4 years of age. Some toddlers were classified as poor language outcome, because their language performance was 1 standard deviation below typical norms. Other toddlers with autism had relatively good language outcome, as their language performance by 4 years of age was within 1 standard deviation of typical norms. We also measured the biology behind these two autism subtypes. First we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is a non-invasive method to look at blood oxygenation response that changes according to a task. Blood oxygenation changes are an indirect measure of neural activity. We used fMRI during natural sleep at around 29 months of age while the toddlers were played language stimuli through headphones to elicit neural responses to speech. Second, we measured molecular aspects of biology, by taking blood samples, isolating leukocyte cells, and then quantifying gene expression for all protein coding genes in the genome, at around the same time as the fMRI scan.
Author Interviews, Autism, Environmental Risks, JAMA, Pediatrics / 16.11.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: "Cairo Air Pollution with less smog - Pyramids1" by Nina Hale is licensed under CC BY 2.0Lief Pagalan, MSc Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University Research Trainee, Centre for Hip Health and Mobility Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Pregnant women more heavily exposed to air pollution had higher chances of having children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The causes of ASD are not fully understood, but this study adds to the growing evidence that environmental risk factors have a role to play. Our study found an association between autism spectrum disorder in the children of women more heavily exposed to air pollution. We observed these results using well-defined cases of ASD and in Vancouver, Canada, which typically has lower air pollution. These findings are consistent with studies done in the U.S., Israel, and Taiwan, which have also found an increased risk of ASD from exposure to air pollution. 
Author Interviews, Autism, Biomarkers, Genetic Research / 12.11.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_45911" align="alignleft" width="153"]Steven D. Hicks, M.D.,Ph.D Department of Pediatrics Penn State College of Medicine Hershey, PA Dr. Hicks[/caption] Steven D. Hicks, M.D.,Ph.D Department of Pediatrics Penn State College of Medicine Hershey, PA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Since autism has both genetic and environmental underpinnings, my colleagues and I suspected that transcriptional elements (e.g. regulatory RNA molecules) might be different in the saliva of children with autism compared to peers without autism. We used a non-biased approach to analyze saliva from 372 children, and allowed machine learning techniques to inform which RNA elements best predicted autism status. To our surprise, microbial RNA levels and human RNA levels were equally powerful in predicting which children had autism. This may be because some children with autism eat restricted diets, resist tooth brushing, or put foreign objects in their mouths. The end result was a panel of 32 RNAs (20 human and 12 bacterial) that identified autism with 87% accuracy. Interestingly, when we tested the panel in a completely separate set of 84 children (including children from a different geographic region) the accuracy remained 88%. 
Author Interviews, Autism, JAMA, OBGYNE / 01.11.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_45573" align="alignleft" width="128"]Magdalena Janecka PhD Department of Psychiatry Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Dr. Janecka[/caption] Magdalena Janecka PhD Department of Psychiatry Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Our paper explored the association between maternal use of medication during pregnancy and the rates of autism in a large cohort from Israel. This followed on from a number of earlier studies reporting that the use of certain medications - for example antidepressants - during pregnancy is associated with higher rates of autism in children. However, rather than test the effects of any particular drug, or a set of drugs aggregated based on maternal condition, our large dataset allowed us to group all medications prescribed to pregnant women based on their drug target, and in the subsequent analyses focus on over 50 groups that included drugs with neurotransmitter-relevant targets - for example agonists and antagonists of their receptors.
Author Interviews, Autism, Education, Exercise - Fitness, Pediatrics / 26.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Marcus Smith PhD Reader in Sport and Exercise Physiology University of Chichester Co-founder, Clem Burke Drumming ProjectDr. Marcus Smith PhD Reader in Sport and Exercise Physiology University of Chichester Co-founder, Clem Burke Drumming Project MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The research group first started to examine rock drumming from a scientific perspective in 1999 through collaboration with Clem Burke, drummer with the iconic band ‘Blondie’. In 2008 the Clem Burke Drumming Project (CBDP) was formed (visit clemburkedrummingproject.org for further information) where academics from different disciplines came together to not only explore the physiological demands of rock drumming but also the potential use of rock drumming as an intervention in research studies. Rock drumming is attractive to the scientist in that it is a unique activity that requires the coordination of multiple limbs to produce the required drumming pattern. Inherent demands relating to timing, tempo and volume must also be met. Therefore, the ability to manipulate these facets of drumming performance in a research setting is very appealing. In relation to potential research populations drumming has a universal fascination regardless of age, gender, culture, language competency and ethnicity. Anecdotal evidence suggests that drumming is a ‘cool’ activity that has a unique ‘language currency’ in terms of stimulating communication within and between those who can and cannot play the drums. The impetus for our research study came from parents of autistic children contacting us to express their belief that drumming was having a positive effect on their child’s physical and psychological behaviour. A review of the literature showed a range of anecdotal evidence in support of such statements (Freidman 2000) and an increase in empirical drumming based research being undertaken (Bungay 2010). More recent studies have reported psychosocial benefits such as enhanced communication (Maschi et al. 2010; 2012), emotional processing and tension reduction (Flores et al. 2016; Maschi et al. 2010; 2012), group cohesion and connectedness (Blackett et al. 2005), concentration, psychomotor coordination and posture (Chen et al. 2017). The majority of this work was undertaken with adolescents with very little work focused on younger age groups.
Author Interviews, Autism, Microbiome / 16.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: quadrant biosciencesSteven D. Hicks, MD PhD Penn State College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics Division of Academic General Pediatrics Hershey, PA, 17033‐0850 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: ​Previous studies have shown that disrupting the community of bacteria in the gut can lead to autism-like behavior in animals. In humans interventions aimed at improving the intestinal microbiome have also led to changes in autism behavior. Here, we examined whether autism-related changes in microbial activity extended to the mouth and throat. We were interested in this site because it provides the initial interface between host immunity and microbe exposure. By examining nearly 350 children with autism, typical development, or developmental delay (without autism) we identified 12 groups of oral bacteria with unique activity patterns in children with autism. Interestingly, microbial activity (measured by RNA sequencing) also differed between children with autism and gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances and peers with autism but no GI disturbance. Levels of several microbes also displayed correlations with measures of autism behaviors. We utilized microbial activity patterns to create diagnostic panels that displayed accuracy for distinguishing children with autism from peers with typical development (79.5% accuracy) or developmental delay (76.5% accuracy). 
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Autism, Pediatrics / 14.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Driving” by Martin Alvarez Espinar is licensed under CC BY 2.0Kristina Elise Patrick, Ph.D Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus, OH 43205 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Many families of young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are concerned that they may have difficulty acquiring driver’s licenses and driving safely because of symptoms of ASD. However, the ability to drive opens the door to a variety of social, occupational, and educational experiences. We aimed to assess differences in simulated driving behaviors of young adults with ASD and those with typical development and to evaluate whether differences depended on level of driving experience and complexity of the driving task. On average, young adults with ASD had more difficulty regulating their speed and position within their lane compared with typically developing individuals even on a very basic rural route. After completing the basic route, drivers were required to engage in more complex tasks such as changing the radio or engaging in conversation while driving, driving through a construction zone, and following behind a truck. On complex driving tasks, drivers with ASD who had acquired licensure drove similarly to typically developing drivers who had acquired licensure. However, novice drivers with ASD had more difficulty than typically developing drivers regulating their speed and position within the lane.
Allergies, Author Interviews, Autism, JAMA, Pediatrics / 10.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_42235" align="alignleft" width="130"]Wei Bao, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Epidemiology College of Public Health University of Iowa Dr. Wei Bao[/caption] Wei Bao, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Epidemiology College of Public Health University of Iowa MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous studies indicated a possible link between immunologic dysfunction and autism. The current study, based on nationally representative large-scale surveys, showed that food allergy, respiratory allergy, and skin allergy, all relevant to immunological dysfunction, were associated with autism spectrum disorder among US children.
Author Interviews, Autism, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, JAMA, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 08.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Blood Pressure” by Bernard Goldbach is licensed under CC BY 2.0Ali Khashan, PhD Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology School of Public Health & INFANT Centre University College Cork Cork, Ireland MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is some evidence to suggest an increased likelihood of neurodevelopmental disorders in relation to hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, however consensus is lacking. Considering hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are among the most common prenatal complication, we decided to synthesise the published literature on this topic by conducting a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. Our main findings suggest that hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are associated with about 30% increase in the likelihood of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and ADHD in the offspring, compared to offspring not exposed to hypertensive disorders in pregnancy.
Author Interviews, Autism, Dental Research, Mineral Metabolism, Pediatrics / 31.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “baby teeth” by Thomas Ricker is licensed under CC BY 2.0Christine Austin PhD Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY 10029 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous studies have shown that some metals (nutrients and toxicants) are absorbed and metabolized differently in children with autism spectrum disorder compared to neuro-typical children. However, it is not known when this dysregulation occurs and it is incredibly difficult to study prenatal metal metabolism. Teeth, which begin forming prenatally, grow by adding a new layer every day, much like the yearly growth rings in trees. Each layer formed captures many of the chemicals circulating in the body at the time. We have developed a method to measure metals in these layers to build a timeline of metal exposure during the prenatal and early childhood period. We found that the cycles of copper and zinc metabolism were disrupted in children with ASD and used this feature to develop a method to predict the emergence of autism spectrum disorder with 90% accuracy.
Author Interviews, Autism, Environmental Risks, Fish, OBGYNE, Toxin Research / 23.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Fish” by Dhruvaraj S is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr Caroline M Taylor Wellcome Trust Research Fellow Centre for Child and Adolescent Health Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Mercury is a toxic metal that is widespread in the environment. In pregnancy, mercury in the mother’ bloodstream is transferred through the placenta to the fetus, where is can affect development of the nervous system. Mercury from vaccines has been the focus of attention particularly in regard to a link with autism in children. However, the amount of mercury used in the vaccines is small in comparison with mercury from the diet and atmospheric pollution, and in the EU at least, childhood vaccines no longer contain this preservative. The fear that mercury is linked to autism has persisted, despite increasing evidence that this is not the case. The aim of our study was to look at mercury from the diet rather than vaccines – specifically from fish – in pregnant women. We measured the women’s mercury levels in their blood and asked them about how much fish they ate. We then followed up their children for 9 years and recorded how many of them had autism diagnosed within that time. We also measured how many of them had autist traits by measuring their social and communication difficulties.  The data were part of the Children of the 90s study (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children – ALSPAC), which is based in Bristol, UK.
Author Interviews, Autism, Pharmaceutical Companies, Roche, Vanderbilt / 16.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_40115" align="alignleft" width="123"]Dr Kevin Sanders, MD Principle Medical Director-Product Development Neuroscience Assistant Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics Vanderbilt University Dr. Sanders[/caption] Dr Kevin Sanders, MD Principle Medical Director-Product Development Neuroscience Assistant Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics Vanderbilt University  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this announcement?  Response: The FDA has granted Roche Breakthrough Therapy Designation for its investigational oral medicine balovaptan (previously known as RG7314), a vasopressin 1a (V1a) receptor antagonist for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for balovaptan is primarily based on efficacy findings in the VANILLA (Vasopressin ANtagonist to Improve sociaL communication in Autism) study, a Phase II trial of balovaptan in adults with ASD. Trial results were first presented at the International Congress for Autism Research (IMFAR) in May 2017. Treatment effects were observed on the Vineland-II (secondary endpoint) and also demonstrated that balovaptan was safe and well tolerated by the subjects in the study. The Vineland-II is a scale that measures socialization, communication and daily living skills. This data was presented to the FDA and is part of the basis of the Breakthrough Designation. 
Author Interviews, Autism, Stem Cells, Transplantation / 10.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_39944" align="alignleft" width="160"]Michael G. Chez, M.D. Director of Pediatric Neurology Sutter Memorial Hospital Director of the Pediatric Epilepsy and Autism Programs Sutter Neuroscience Group  Dr. Michael Chez[/caption] Michael G. Chez, M.D. Director of Pediatric Neurology Sutter Memorial Hospital Director of the Pediatric Epilepsy and Autism Programs Sutter Neuroscience Group  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: The study looked at possible use of autologous cord blood as a source of stem cells in patients with autism. The patients had to have fairly good genetic screening per protocol and had confirmation of autism to participate. The use of cord blood was a pilot cross over double blind study with hypothesis that a post natal factor or immune dysregulation may add to the autism clinical phenotype. Cord blood ( the baby’s own from birth) is a safe source of mixed stem cell types and should be safe from rejection or autoimmune reaction in theory. Infusion /placebo or placebo/infusion was randomized and observed and tested every 3 months with switch to other wing of treatment at 0 and 6 months. Total observation was over 1 year.
Author Interviews, Autism, Nature / 20.01.2018

[caption id="attachment_39400" align="alignleft" width="133"]Indiana University graduate student Di Wu poses for a portrait in Swain Hall on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. Di Wu credit: James Brosher[/caption] MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Di Wu, Msc PhD candidate at Indiana University Graduate Research Assistant Department of Physics Indiana University Bloomington Linked-in: www.linkedin.com/in/di-wu-3a197373  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Current clinical diagnosis and evaluations of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). has remained subjective in nature. There is a need to have objective assessments for the disorder. We discovered in this study an important motion feature that was unknown before. This feature provides a clear screening of ASD. It gave a remarkable quantitative connection between the way children with ASD move and their psychiatric scores, like the IQ score and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale. This connection we captured suggests that the motor feature may be an essential core feature characterizing ASD deficits, as well as neurodevelopment in general.
Author Interviews, Autism / 04.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_39189" align="alignleft" width="140"]Tamara Rosen Tamara Rosen[/caption] Tamara Rosen Graduate student in Clinical Psychology Stony Brook University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Approximately 40 percent of youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are diagnosed with a co-occurring anxiety disorder.  Social anxiety is a common presenting problem for these youth. Youth with ASD and increased social anxiety have heightened threat sensitivity, particularly in relation to performance fears, as measured by a brain signal response called the error-related negativity (ERN), which measures response to errors. The threat sensitivity-performance fears association remained even after controlling for anxiety symptoms other than social fearfulness.
Author Interviews, Autism, JAMA, Nutrition, OBGYNE / 27.12.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_39092" align="alignleft" width="130"]Dr. Marte Bjørk, MD PhD Department of Clinical Medicine University of Bergen, Department of Neurology Haukeland University Hospital Bergen, Norway Dr. Marte Bjørk[/caption] Dr. Marte Bjørk, MD PhD Department of Clinical Medicine University of Bergen, Department of Neurology Haukeland University Hospital Bergen, Norway MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: In utero antiepileptic drug exposure are associated with neurodevelopmental problems in the child. We looked into if maternal folate during pregnancy could reduce the risk of autistic traits in children of women in need of antiepileptic drugs in pregnancy. The rationale for the hypothesis that folate could be beneficial, was that many antiepileptic drugs interact with folate metabolism. Folic acid supplement use is also associated with slightly reduced risk of autism in children of women from the general population.
Author Interviews, Autism, Genetic Research, Nature / 12.11.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_38196" align="alignleft" width="200"]Woo-Yang Kim, Ph.D Associate Professor Department of Developmental Neuroscience  Munroe-Meyer Institute University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE 68198-5960 Dr-Woo-Yang Kim[/caption] Woo-Yang Kim, Ph.D Associate Professor Department of Developmental Neuroscience Munroe-Meyer Institute University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE 68198-5960 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  Autism impairs the ability of individuals to communicate and interact with others. About 75 percent of individuals with autism also have intellectual disability, which is characterized by significant limitations in cognitive functions and adaptive behaviors. While autism and intellectual disability are currently defined using behavioral criteria, little is known about the neuropathogenesis of these conditions. Recent genetic studies have reported that haploinsufficiency of ARID1B causes autism and intellectual disability. However, the neurobiological function of ARID1B during brain development is unknown. Our study investigated the neurobiological role of the gene in brain development. Using genetically-modified mice, we found that Arid1b haploinsufficiency leads to an excitation-inhibition imbalance by reducing the number of GABAergic interneurons in the cerebral cortex. Furthermore, we showed that treatment with a GABAA-receptor positive allosteric modulator rescues ASD-like behavior and cognitive dysfunction in Arid1b-haploinsufficient mice, suggesting an association between lower numbers of GABAergic interneurons and behavioral outcomes. Our findings suggest a pathogenic mechanism for Autism Spectrum Disorder and intellectual disability.
Author Interviews, Autism, Pharmacology / 07.11.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_38060" align="alignleft" width="200"]Dr. Mark E. Gurney, PhD MBA Dr. Gurney[/caption] Dr. Mark E. Gurney, PhD MBA Chairman & CEO, Tetra Discovery Partners Inc. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Fragile X is a genetic condition. Affected patients display a range of behavioral and other symptoms, including seizures, sleep disorders, anxiety, irritability, hyperactivity, autism, mild-to-severe cognitive impairment and intellectual disability. BPN14770 is a novel therapeutic agent that selectively inhibits phosphodiesterase-4D (PDE4D). Inhibition of PDE4 has been validated as a treatment strategy by many research groups in the Fragile X field, but non-selective PDE4 inhibitors have been associated with significant GI side-effects that have limited those drugs’ use. As a selective inhibitor, such side-effects were not seen for BPN14770 in a Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy young and elderly adults. In the current study, daily treatment of Fragile X knock-out (FXS) mice with BPN14770 showed a reduction in hyperarousal, improved social interactions and natural behaviors, and changes in nerve structure in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the portion of that brain associated with cognition. Moreover, the drug’s benefit persisted for two weeks after all drug was cleared from the mice. At the same time, the behavior of normal mice treated with the drug remained unchanged. Examination of neurons from the prefrontal cortex of the treated FXS mice showed an improvement in dendritic spine morphology.
Author Interviews, Autism, Pediatrics, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 17.10.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_37522" align="alignleft" width="142"]Maureen Durkin, PhD, DrPH Professor and Interim Chair Department of Population Health Sciences University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Madison, WI Prof. Durkin[/caption] Maureen Durkin, PhD, DrPH Professor and Interim Chair Department of Population Health Sciences University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Madison, WI  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous studies of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children in the U.S. have found two consistent patterns.  One is a higher prevalence among white non-Hispanic children than among black non-Hispanic or Hispanic children.  The other is a positive socioeconomic gradient, meaning that ASD prevalence in the U.S. is found to increase with increasing income and other indicators of socioeconomic status. One of the findings of this new study is that the racial and ethnic differences in autism spectrum disorder prevalence are not explained by socioeconomic factors, because even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors, ASD prevalence was found to be significantly lower in black and Hispanic children than in white non-Hispanic children.  Another finding is that the gap in ASD prevalence between children of high and low socioeconomic status did not change over time between 2002 and 2010, though the overall prevalence of ASD more than doubled during this period.
Author Interviews, Autism, BMJ, Nutrition / 14.10.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Elizabeth DeVilbiss, PhD MPH Dornsife School of Public Health Drexel University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Unfortunately, not much is known about how diet during pregnancy affects autism risk.  There have been studies in recent years about varied aspects of diet during pregnancy and autism risk involving multivitamins, iron, folic acid, vitamin D, and more, but the evidence is still inconclusive. After adjusting for several potentially influencing factors in both mothers and children, we found that multivitamin use, with or without additional iron and/or folic acid, was associated with a lower likelihood of child autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability relative to mothers who did not use folic acid, iron, and multivitamins.
Author Interviews, Autism, Genetic Research, JAMA / 27.09.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_37175" align="alignleft" width="114"]Sven Sandin, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY 10029 D. Sandin[/caption] Sven Sandin, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY 10029  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In 2014, we estimated the heritability of autism to be approximately 50%. Motivating us then was the lack of studies in autism heritability using population based and the findings from a twin-study in California finding the heritability to be substantially lower than the 80-90% estimated in previous studies. Since then continued efforts working with the questions on heritability and environmental factors for autism we found differences between different methods and different samples. When we went back to our previous data we found the heritability of autism to be higher than previously estimated. We found that our previous result was due to a methodological artifact where the adjustment for differences in follow-up used in that manuscript underestimated the heritability. Using methods used in other heritability studies the heritability is now estimated to 84%. Importantly, as previously concluded, there is no support for any ‘shared environmental factors’ in the etiology of autism, e.g. environmental factors shared between two siblings.
Author Interviews, Autism, Environmental Risks, OBGYNE, Toxin Research, UC Davis / 12.09.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_36912" align="alignleft" width="125"]Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D.  Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences UC Davis California Dr. Schmidt[/caption] Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D.  Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences UC Davis California MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Maternal folic acid taken near conception has been linked to reduced risk for autism in the child in previous studies. Separate studies show that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for autism. Animal studies demonstrate that folic acid and other B-vitamins can attenuate effects of certain environmental contaminants, including pesticides. This case-control study examined combined maternal folic acid and pesticide exposures in relation to autism in the child.