Facts about Autism

  • About 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder.
  • Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys
  • Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S.
  • Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
  • There is no medical detection or cure for autism

Research scope in Autism

  • Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) development is suggested to involve microglia, which have a role in synaptic refinement during development. Autophagy and related pathways are also suggested to be involved in ASDs. However, the precise roles of microglial autophagy in synapses and ASDs are unknown.
  • Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit social-communication deficits along with restricted interests and repetitive behaviors (RRBs). To date, there is a lack of effective treatments to alleviate RRBs.
  • ASD are common, complex and heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders. Cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for ASD pathogenesis have been proposed based on genetic studies, brain pathology and imaging, but a major impediment to testing ASD hypotheses is the lack of human cell models.
  • Different dietary approaches have been attempted for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism, but only three of them have been subjected to clinical trials: education in healthy nutritional habits, supplementation and elimination diets.

Treatment for Autism

  • Numerous studies have reported that supplemental nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and phytochemicals may provide moderate benefits to autism/ADHD patients.
  • Increased TNF-α levels leads to increase of caspase-3 protein levels triggering neuronal apoptosis leading to neuronal deficiency, which is one of the major symptoms of autism. GRID2 receptor gene can be suppressor and can be used for preventing TNF-induced neurodegeneration in autism.
  • Grade A treatments for ASD include melatonin, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, naltrexone, and music therapy. Grade B treatments include carnitine, tetrahydrobiopterin, vitamin C, alpha-2 adrenergic agonists, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory treatments, oxytocin, and vision therapy. Grade C treatments for ASD include carnosine, multivitamin/mineral complex, piracetam, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin B6/magnesium, elimination diets, chelation, cyproheptadine, famotidine, glutamate antagonists, acupuncture, auditory integration training, massage, and neurofeedback.

Genetic association with Autism

  • The study findings indicated that g.333509A>C is not significantly associated with autism. The g.504742G>A polymorphic variant in the RELN gene might affect subjects susceptibility toward autism in Chinese Han population.
  • TRIM33 and NRAS-CSDE1 are candidate genes for autism, and may provide a novel insight into the etiology of autism.
  • SIN3A can be considered to be a key transcriptional regulator of cortical brain development.
  • CHL1 deletions and duplications are likely responsible for the patient’s impaired cognitive function, and CHL1 may be an intriguing ASD candidate gene.

Risk factors for Autism

  • Evidence to suggest that parental age and obstetric conditions are associated with an increased risk of autism.
  • The risk of autism found to be associated with daily smoking in early pregnancy (OR = 1.4; CI = 1.1-1.8), cesarean delivery (OR = 1.6; CI = 1.1-2.3), being small for gestational age (SGA; OR = 2.1; CI = 1.1-3.9).
  • Epigenetic differences in paternal sperm may contribute to autism risk in offspring.
  • Maternal obesity and GDM might be associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the offspring; however, no difference in risk of ASD according to BMI and GDM was seen when comparing to DD.
  • Maternal MCs may be broadly associated with neurodevelopmental problems in children.
  • Maternal use of acetaminophen in pregnancy found to be associated with ASD.
  • Maternal autoimmune disease is likely to be an independent risk factor of ASD in offspring.
  • rs779867 polymorphism is associated with ASD.
  • SHANK3 rs9616915 polymorphism is associated with increased risk of Autism.

Systematic reviews

  • Secretin has been studied extensively in multiple randomized controlled trials, and there is clear evidence that it lacks benefit in autism..more
  • Acupuncture may be an effective treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders…more
  • Study shows that there is no association between asthma and ASD…more
  • Lower vitamin D level might be a risk factor for ASD…more


Risk scope

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  • Mol Psychiatry. 2016 Jul 5. doi: 10.1038/mp.2016.95. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Ann Nutr Metab. 2016;68 Suppl 1:43-50. doi: 10.1159/000445393. Epub 2016 Jun 30

Risk factors

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