Health Education, Mental Health

Top 10 Recent Research Findings in Autism Spectrum Disorders

In 2015, the understanding of Autism and Asperger’s was deepened and broadened. After all, there were many scientific publications and a wide variety of discoveries and advances. It was revealed that there is a connection between the immune system and brain as well as some reassuring results of the comparison of autism rates among those children who were vaccinated versus those who were not. At the very same time all of this was going on, science dove deep into the autism genome to find out that the underpinnings of this condition are much more complex than was ever thought possible.

Following is a compilation/summary of the top 10 most popular research stories on autism in 2015.

  • Autism/Apraxia: It’s important to screen for both. Researchers have recently revealed that nearly 65 percent of children with autism are also affected by apraxia. This report emphasized that it is critical to screen for both conditions when you are having your child evaluated for one or the other.
  • Half of autism cases can be traced to a rare gene-disabling mutation. Near the end of the year, experts came to the conclusion that at least ½ the time, autism can be traced to one of about 200 different gene-disabling mutations often found in children but not in either of the parents.
  • Autism can be spotted long before an official diagnosis is given. While there are some medical experts that can pinpoint autism early, one group of research physicians have discovered that it’s a good idea to listen to what the parents have to say.
  • Teen moms are at an increased risk of giving birth to a child with autism. This particular study brought about a very surprising revelation- teen moms do have higher rates of children with autism than older moms. In addition, this particular study also confirmed earlier research that rates of autism also rise when the mother is over the age of 40.
  • Symptoms of ADHD seem to mask the symptoms of ASD for many years. One study revealed that the signs/symptoms of ADHD cause a significant delay in the identification of ASD. In this study, children who were initially given a diagnosis of ADHD were actually given a diagnosis of ASD about three years later than those children who had ASD without having ADHD.
  • Most siblings also have different genes for autism risk. A study revealed that the genetic underpinnings of ASD are even more complex than was previously thought. Even within one family, most of the siblings that are affected have different genes linked to ASD.
  • More attention should be given to food issues related to autism. More than 100 children between the ages of 3-11 confirmed that children affected by ASD also are very selective with their eating or have very high rates of aversions to foods. Parents of these children reported experiencing more behavioral problems at mealtimes, higher limitations on what the family can eat, and higher stress levels between spouses.
  • No link between the MMR vaccination and cases of autism. While many parents want to claim that there is a link between vaccinations and ASD, the truth was revealed in this study of 95,000 children. There seems to be no link between instances of autism and the MMR vaccine.
  • Autism is linked to epigenetic changes in sperm. One study revealed an abundance of “epigenetic” changes in the sperm from men who had children with autism. Epigenetics are what controls the where and when a particular gene is active. Since these epigenetic changes can be passed on to children, they may have an effect on early brain development.
  • Link between the brain and immune system could help increase understanding of ASD. In June, neuroscientists at the University of Virginia reported discovering a previously unknown system of lymph vessels in the membrane around the brain.

When it comes to Autism and Asperger’s, there has been much research done in recent years. As researchers learn more, they are releasing this information to the public.

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