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MRI algorithm to predict which babies at high risk of developing autism

Joe Piven, MD

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in infants with older siblings with autism, researchers from around the country were able to correctly predict 80 percent of those infants who would later meet criteria for autism at two years of age. The study, published today in Nature, is the first to show it is possible to identify which infants – among those with older siblings with autism – will be diagnosed with autism at 24 months of age. This first-of-its-kind study used MRIs to image the brai...
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High folate and vitamin B12 levels and autism risk

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that if a new mother has a very high level of folate right after giving birth – more than four times what is considered adequate – the risk that her child will develop an autism spectrum disorder doubles. Very high vitamin B12 levels in new moms are also potentially harmful, tripling the risk that her offspring will develop an autism spectrum disorder. If both levels are extremely high, the risk that a child develops the disorder increases 17.6 times. Folate, a B vitamin, is found naturally in fruits and vegetables, while the...
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New drug target for Rett syndrome identified

In a paper published on Jan. 4, 2016, in the online Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Penn State University reports on the discovery of a novel drug target, which could help in the treatment for Rett Syndrome and other forms of autism-spectrum disorders. In this work, the researchers demonstrate that human neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patients with Rett syndrome (Rett neurons), show a significant deficit in neuron-specific K+-Cl− cotransporter2 (KCC2) expression, leading to an impaired GABA functional switch from excitation to inhibition. Restoring KCC2 level rescued GABA...
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Impaired functional connectivity in preterm brains

In their research "Impact of preterm birth on structural and functional connectivity in neonates" presented at the Society for Neuroscience (SFN) conference in Chicago, Oct 19, 2015, Cynthia Rogers and her colleagues at Washington University Neonatal Development Research Lab, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that key brain networks involved in attention, communication and emotion were weaker in premature infants, suggesting an explanation for why children born pre...
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Early life seizures and autism - Rapamycin might be preventive

Seizures in early life are associated with autism with about 40% of patients with autism also having epilepsy as comorbidity. A study from Boston Children's Hospital finds a reason for the link, and suggests that the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin ,already shown to be safe in children, could help prevent autism from developing in newborns who have seizures.

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