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Monday, September 22nd, 2014
Children have a five times higher risk of developing autism if their mother had an iron deficiency, combined with an older age and other risk factors during her pregnancy, new research from the UC Davis MIND Institute shows.
“Iron is crucial to early brain development,” Rebecca J. Schmidt, an assistant professor at UC Davis and a researcher affiliated with the MIND Institute said in a statement.
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that this risk was especially associated with women who had a low iron intake and had a metabolic condition like obesity hypertension or diabetes, or were 35 years old or older.
Forty to 50 percent of pregnant women have an iron deficiency, Schmidt said in the statement. Even so, it is linked to crucial brain development in three specific pathways that have been shown to be associated with autism, the study explains.
Each mother in the study had her daily iron intake via vitamins, supplements, and fortified breakfast cereals examined, “three months prior to through the end of the women’s pregnancies and breastfeeding,” the news release explained.
This is the first study of its kind and Schmidt stressed the importance of taking this information with a grain of salt as it needs to be replicated again in larger scale groups.
“In the meantime the takeaway message for women is do what your doctor recommends,” she said in the statement. ”Take vitamins throughout pregnancy, and take the recommended daily dosage. If there are side effects, talk to your doctor about how to address them.”
Try some of our tips to feed your baby’s brain during pregnancy.
Photo of pregnant woman with vitamins courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
Following the recent news that scientists found some important neurological differences in the brains of children with autism, comes more hopeful news.
As part of a very small research study, seven babies (ages 6 to 9 months) who were identified as having early signs of autism were offered therapy—and the findings were shocking: By age 3, five of the seven children didn’t show any symptoms of autism, and a sixth showed only mild ones, USA Today reports.
The research was run by the University of California Davis’ MIND Institute and involved a modified type of treatment that is already offered to older children diagnosed with autism that includes intensive sessions with therapists and family members designed to teach parents how to pick up on their children’s subtle social cues during daily activities.
“It doesn’t prove that these children recovered from autism,” Rogers told USA Today, because they were not technically old enough to be diagnosed with autism. But “it’s a promise of a potential treatment for young children who have these symptoms.”
Study co-author Sally Rogers and her colleagues are now working to secure funding to run a larger study.
If your child has been diagnosed with autism, learn more about the different treatment and therapy options that are available to you and your family.
Photo of baby courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Monday, August 25th, 2014
New insight was gained recently into the brains of children with and without autism, according to a study published in the journal Neuron.
Although there are many neurological variations, one major difference between the brains is that the number of synapses (the channels through which neurons send messages) were found to be more than 50 percent higher in children with autism, Reuters reported.
Researchers learned that children whose brains develop normally begin to prune synapses as they age, but children with autism failed to do that effectively. It’s important to note that their brains weren’t producing more synapses; just having trouble paring them down. The overabundance of synapses correlates with the understanding that children with autism deal with sensory overload, as the synapses can stimulate the brain with too much light and sound.
The same study also found that the drug rapamycin had positive effects on lab mice with a specific, rare genetic disease associated with autism. After being given the drug, the mice experienced an improved synapse pruning process, and their autistic-like social behaviors (avoiding interactions) were reversed. “We were able to treat mice after the disease had appeared,” neurobiologist David Sulzer of Columbia University Medical Center, who led the study, told Reuters. Although the drug is currently too dangerous to test on humans, it offers a possibility that a treatment for autism is in reach, “though there is a lot of work to be done,” Dr. Sulzer said.
The CDC currently estimates that 1 in 68 children has some form of autism, which has no treatment plan. If successful, the drug has the potential to be groundbreaking. The nonprofit, Autism Speaks, is already funding multiple studies on rapamycin.
If your child has been diagnosed with autism, download these free family support tool kits from Autism Speaks.
Photo of chalk drawing courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Monday, August 4th, 2014
Don’t freak out: Scentists are finding that a mom-to-be’s stress levels can have significant effects on a child’s future health, including delays in cognitive development, behavioral issues, and even an increased risk of autism. The latest link? Scientists have found that maternal stress could increase the risk that babies develop allergy-induced asthma.
The study, produced by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, focused on mice, and found that even a single stressful situation could flood the baby’s bloodstream with stress hormones like corticosterone, and lead to a greater chance that the baby develops allergy-based asthma after birth.
What’s the takeaway? Do what you can to relax, unwind, and reduce stress throughout your pregnancy, to help protect your baby’s health.
To keep up with the latest news for your kiddo, sign up for our Parents Daily newsletter.
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allergy-induced asthma, asthma, Autism, Child Health, cognitive delays, maternal stress, mental health, mom-to-be, Pregnancy, pregnancy health, prenatal stress, research, study | Categories:
Child Health, New Research
Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
Since a 1998 article published in the medical journal The Lancet argued that childhood vaccines–specifically the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine–can cause autism spectrum disorders (ASD), debate has crested and fallen, ebbed and flowed. Neither the retraction of the article–partially in 2004 and fully in 2010–nor the failure of any scientist since to replicate author Andrew Wakefield’s findings has dissuaded some who still believe that autism may be caused by vaccines. In fact, earlier this year a study came out reporting that parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their children–partially or entirely because of the autism fear–are rarely persuaded to change their opinions even in the face of solid scientific evidence that vaccines do not cause autism.
Study after study has been published in the intervening years confirming no link between vaccines and autism. Meanwhile, amid growing numbers of families who do not have their children vaccinated, outbreaks of measles and other preventable diseases are on the rise. This year, measles cases have reached a 20-year high, and whooping cough was declared an epidemic in California.
This week, a new study was published, once again vindicating vaccines of having any causal relationship with autism. Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study reviewed a large of body of scientific findings and concluded that parents should be reassured about vaccines’ safety. More from HealthDay News:
The researchers behind the new study also found no link between childhood leukemia and vaccines for MMR, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), tetanus, influenza and hepatitis B.
Overall, vaccines given to children 6 or younger are safe, causing few side effects, the review concluded. The findings are published in the July 1 online edition and the August print issue of the journal Pediatrics.
“We found that the serious adverse effects linked to vaccines are extremely rare,” said lead author Margaret Maglione, a policy analyst at RAND Corporation.
These findings should provide solid support for pediatricians and family physicians in their discussions with parents about the benefits and risks of immunization, said Dr. Carrie Byington, a professor of pediatrics and vice dean of academic affairs and faculty development at the University of Utah College of Medicine.
In an accompanying editorial, Byington noted recent medical school graduates have reported themselves more skeptical of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines than did older graduates.
“I’m hopeful younger physicians who have not seen the devastating vaccine preventable infections may see the data and strengthen their will to communicate the importance of vaccines to parents,” Byington said.
Image: Child getting vaccine, via Shutterstock
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Autism, autism spectrum disorders, epidemic, measles, MMR, vaccine safety, Vaccines, whooping cough | Categories:
Child Health, Must Read, New Research, Parenting News