What Are Some Common Signs Of Asd
Even as infants, children with ASD may seem different, especially when compared to other children their own age. They may become overly focused on certain objects, rarely make eye contact, and fail to engage in typical babbling with their parents. In other cases, children may develop normally until the second or even third year of life, but then start to withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.
The severity of ASD can vary greatly and is based on the degree to which social communication, insistence of sameness of activities and surroundings, and repetitive patterns of behavior affect the daily functioning of the individual.
Social impairment and communication difficultiesMany people with ASD find social interactions difficult. The mutual give-and-take nature of typical communication and interaction is often particularly challenging. Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names, avoid eye contact with other people, and only interact with others to achieve specific goals. Often children with ASD do not understand how to play or engage with other children and may prefer to be alone. People with ASD may find it difficult to understand other peoples feelings or talk about their own feelings.
What Research Is Being Done
The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. The NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health , the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world. NINDS and several other NIH Institutes and Centers support research on autism spectrum disorder.
Nearly 20 years ago the NIH formed the Autism Coordinating Committee to enhance the quality, pace, and coordination of efforts at the NIH to find a cure for autism. The NIH/ACC has been instrumental in promoting research to understand and advance ASD. The NIH/ACC also participates in the broader Federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee , composed of representatives from various U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies, the Department of Education, and other governmental organizations, as well as public members, including individuals with ASD and representatives of patient advocacy organizations. One responsibility of the IACC is to develop a strategic plan for ASD research, which guides research programs supported by NIH and other participating organizations.
Decrease: Don’t Skip Out On Folic Acid
If mama is receiving prenatal care, she is most likely highly encouraged to take folic acid supplements. Some studies show that a reduced folic acid intake may be a risk for autism. It is recommended that a woman takes between 400 to 800 mcgs of folic acid daily. It is recommended that mamas start taking prenatal vitamins that include folic acid before and during trying to conceive to ensure that the moment you become pregnant your body is already being given folic acid. Too much folic acid can have an opposite effect. Folic acid can be found in leafy green veggies, citrus fruits, beans, rice and certain pastas. Researchers have found that women do not consume enough folic acid, and that is where the supplement comes in. Folic acid also helps prevent neural tube defects as well.
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The Research By The Numbers
The team of researchers studied data from Danish national health registries that included three generations and nearly 1.5 million children.
They found that the chance of having ASD for children born to parents who are in their 30s is up to 10 percent higher than parents who are 25 to 29 years old.
The researchers also reported that the chance is 50 percent higher when the parents are in their 40s or 50s.
We observed that children with young maternal grandparents and children with young and old paternal grandparents had higher risk compared with children of grandparents who were 25 to 29 years old at the time of the birth of the parents, Liew said.
He says these findings, however, are unique and require further replications.
How Is Autism Treated
There is no cure for ASD. Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can substantially improve those symptoms. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that meet the specific needs of the individual. Most health care professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better.
Educational/behavioral interventions: Early behavioral/educational interventions have been very successful in many children with ASD. In these interventions therapists use highly structured and intensive skill-oriented training sessions to help children develop social and language skills, such as applied behavioral analysis, which encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative ones. In addition, family counseling for the parents and siblings of children with ASD often helps families cope with the particular challenges of living with a child with ASD.
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Autisms Genetic Risk Factors
Research tells us that autism tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child will develop autism. If a parent carries one or more of these gene changes, they may get passed to a child . Other times, these genetic changes arise spontaneously in an early embryo or the sperm and/or egg that combine to create the embryo. Again, the majority of these gene changes do not cause autism by themselves. They simply increase risk for the disorder
Endogenous Opiate Precursor Theory
In 1979, Jaak Panksepp proposed a connection between autism and opiates, noting that injections of minute quantities of opiates in young laboratory animals induce symptoms similar to those observed among autistic children. The possibility of a relationship between autism and the consumption of gluten and casein was first articulated by Kalle Reichelt in 1991.
Opiate theory hypothesizes that autism is the result of a metabolic disorder in which opioid peptides gliadorphin and casomorphin, produced through metabolism of gluten and casein , pass through an abnormally permeable intestinal wall and then proceed to exert an effect on neurotransmission through binding with opioid receptors. It has been postulated that the resulting excess of opioids affects brain maturation, and causes autistic symptoms, including behavioural difficulties, attention problems, and alterations in communicative capacity and social and cognitive functioning.
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Autism: A True Increase Or Semantics
The jump in autism cases has spawned not only alarm but also debate about whether the number of children with autism could have increased that much in a relatively brief time.
“There’s a lot of controversy about that,” says Jeff Milunsky, MD, director of clinical genetics and associate director of the Center for Human Genetics at Boston University.
Two researchers who tracked the rate of autism in children born in the same area of England from 1992 to 1995 and then from 1996 to 1998 found that the rates were comparable, and concluded that the incidence of autism was stable. The study was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2005.
But, Milunsky says, several studies have documented an increase in the U.S.
In a recent report in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Milunsky and his colleagues point to several studies finding an increase in autism rates. In 2003, for instance, a large study conducted in Atlanta found that one in 166 to one in 250 children had autism, according to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Another study conducted by the CDC in 14 states found an overall prevalence of one in 152, which Milunsky and others say is the generally accepted figure today.
“A kid labeled autistic today could have been labeled mentally retarded 10 years ago in the same school system,” Shattuck says. It wasn’t until 1992 that schools began to include autism as a special education classification.
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The findings from scientists in California, published in the journal of Archives of General Psychiatry, investigated the possible link between autism rates and traffic pollution.
The authors claim that unborn children and those up to the age of one more than doubled their chances of developing the disorder living in traffic-congested areas, and that children in neighbourhoods with the highest air pollution levels were three times more at risk than those living in areas least exposed.
The components of these particles could be hazardous to the brain Doctor Heather Volk
Lead scientist Doctor Heather Volk, from Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California said: This work has broad potential public health implications.
Weve known for a long time that air pollution may affect the brain. From studies conducted in the lab we know that we can breathe in tiny particles and they can produce inflammation.
Particles have varied composition and there are many chemicals that can bind them. The components of these particles could be hazardous to the brain.
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Direct Evidence For The Contribution Of Environmental Factors
There has been much discussion about the initial suggestion that MMR vaccine. However there is now a scientific consensus that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, based on multiple epidemiologic studies which did not support a link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and ASD . However, other environmental factors are likely to contribute to a significant proportion of ASD risk.
Prenatal and perinatal factors
In another meta-analysis focusing on the perinatal and neonatal period, the same authors identified several potential risk factors, the main being fetal presentation, umbilieal-cord complications, fetal distress, birth injury or trauma, multiple birth, maternal hemorrhage, summer birth, low birth weight, small for gestational age, low 5minute Apgar score, meconium aspiration, neonatal anemia, ABO or Rh incompatibility, and hyperbilirubinemia. Feeding difficulties and congenital malformation that are also mentioned should rather be considered as symptoms of an underlying cause of autism. The identification of summer birth as a risk factor is consistent with the results of a recent study showing that maternal infection in the first trimester increases autism risk.
Drugs and toxic exposure
Increase: Starting Too Young
Getting pregnant at a young age can be a risk factor for an autistic child as well. Scientists believe that teen moms may not have access or the desire to get proper prenatal care and make the appropriate decisions when it comes to their pregnancy. Certain decisions can be detrimental and can increase the risk of ASD in unborn kiddos. Teen moms have an 18% higher chance of their baby being born with Autism while those moms in their 20s have less of a risk. There are moms who have babies in their teen years who do not have kiddos with autism, but the risk is there. Some teenage pregnancies are an accident while others are planned. The best way to avoid this issue is to wait until your 20s to conceive, but if that is not a possibility the best bet is to try to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
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Increase: The Diet Stinks
Everyone has an opinion on what others eat. Prepackaged food is loaded with unnatural colors, arsenics and chemicals that are not really meant for consumption. There is a lot of chatter about how a child is fed and behavioral problems. There is talk that certain eating habits and chemicals can increase the risk for autism in kids. For pregnant women, the same risk is there. Prepackaged foods can put a womans unborn kiddo at a risk for autism. Of course, we all know the best foods to eat are natural foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. Going with organic is not a bad idea because they are not sprayed with the yucky chemicals that non-organic foods are. It can be hard to know what foods increase the risk of autism, so the best bet is to do thorough research and have the family eat as healthy as possible.
Autism Risk May Increase Slightly After Antidepressant Use In Pregnancy Study Says
Taking antidepressants during pregnancy may slightly increase the risk of having a child with autism, but the chances of having a baby without the disorder are still about 98.8 per cent, new Canadian research suggests.
Children with autism spectrum disorder may have difficulties with social communicating and show repetitive behaviour. It occurs in about one per cent of the general population worldwide.
The causes of autism spectrum disorder are mysterious. Some research points to genetic vulnerability, but genes alone don’t offer a full explanation.
That’s why investigators at the University of Montreal consider it a public health priority to try to understand the long-term effects of taking antidepressants in pregnancy on the neurodevelopment of children, given that 4.5 per cent of pregnant women in Canada have reported using antidepressants.
Anick Bérard, a pharmacy professor at the University of Montreal, is the latest to analyze data on births in Quebec between 1998 and 2009, antidepressant prescriptions from the province’s public prescription drug insurance plan and medical claims for autism spectrum disorder.
“Use of antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, during the second and/or third trimester increases the risk of autism spectrum disorder in children, even after considering maternal depression,” Bérard and her team said in Monday’s issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Too soon to change health policy
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How Is Asd Diagnosed
ASD symptoms can vary greatly from person to person depending on the severity of the disorder. Symptoms may even go unrecognized for young children who have mild ASD or less debilitating handicaps.
Autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed by clinicians based on symptoms, signs, and testing according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders. Children should be screened for developmental delays during periodic checkups and specifically for autism at 18- and 24-month well-child visits.
Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:
- no babbling or pointing by age 1
- no single words by age 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
- no response to name
- excessive lining up of toys or objects
- no smiling or social responsiveness
Later indicators include:
- impaired ability to make friends with peers
- impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
- absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
- repetitive or unusual use of language
- abnormally intense or focused interest
- preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
- inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals
Medication Use During Pregnancy
Gentile systematically reviewed the evidence for the association between maternal valproate use and ASD in the offspring. Studies with both prospective and retrospective design provided strong evidence for the association of maternal valproate use and ASD as well as several other neurodevelopmental outcomes. Valproate was associated with poorer neurodevelopment than other antiepileptic drugs. Furthermore, the association seemed to be dose-related and robust to adjustment for several confounders including seizure attacks during pregnancy and maternal intelligence quotient .
The association between maternal antidepressant use during pregnancy and ASD is more controversial. Kobayashi et al. quantitatively reviewed five case-control and three cohort studies of maternal selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor use in pregnancy and the risk of ASD in the offspring. They found a 50% increase in risk of ASD of mothers who took SSRIs during pregnancy the estimate was imprecise but consistent. However, when the authors conducted a sensitivity analysis comparing SSRI-exposed group to SSRI-non-exposed group in mother with psychiatric conditions, they found no significant increase in risk of ASD in the offspring. Based on this evidence, the authors concluded that the relation between SSRI and ASD finding is largely due to confounding by indication .
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What Doesnt Cause Autism
There was a bleak period in history from the 1950s to 1970s when autism was believed to be a psychological disorder, and blamed on cold, uncaring parents, usually the mothers.
Fortunately, the myth of the ârefrigerator motherâ has been debunked by science, and autism is now recognised as a disorder of brain development with genetic links. Nothing you said or did as a parent caused your child to develop autism, so please donât listen to anyone who suggests otherwise.
Scores of scientific studies have effectively ruled out vaccines as a cause of autism. Concerns originally arose around two issues of Mercury and the MMR Vaccine
In 2014, a meta-analysis, combining the result of 10 studies and over 1.2 million children, found no link between vaccines and autism. The World Health Organization, the European Medicines Agency, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading international health groups have also concluded thereâs no link. Unfortunately, the belief persists among anti-vaccination campaigners, who are very vocal on the Internet. If you remain concerned about vaccines, arrange a time to talk your paediatrician or GP. Remember, Vaccines Save Lives!
Inflammation And Oxidative Stress
ASD is associated with altered immune status, increased oxidative stress, and an active neuroinflammatory process characterized by microglial activation in various parts of the brain . A meta-analysis has indicated that concentrations of several pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6, interluekin-1, and interferon gamma are increased in patients with ASD compared to those in healthy controls . It is possible that the association of maternal autoimmune disease with risk of ASD is partly mediated through the effect of maternal inflammatory mediators and autoantibodies on fetal neurodevelopment .
Another meta-analysis has demonstrated an association between ASD and altered metabolism of glutathione, an antioxidant . Some environmental factors such as lead, mercury, persistent organic pollutants, or perinatal complications might cause a pro-inflammatory state and oxidative damage in the brain and subsequently lead to alterations in neural growth and development . Moreover, chemicals like brominated flame retardants might result in mitochondrial toxicity through a variety of mechanisms leading to impaired energy balance in the brain . Mitochondrial dysfunction has been documented in patients with ASD .
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