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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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Environment

From parental age to infection during pregnancy, environmental elements can influence autism risk.

A pregnant woman lies in a hospital bed.

Registry review casts doubt on causal link between maternal infection and autism

by  /  23 September 2022
The long-standing link between maternal infection during pregnancy and having a child with autism may reflect common genetic or environmental factors instead.
Illustration of screenlight projecting shadows on the wall of distracted parents: one is on their phone and the other is leaving the room.

Studies investigating link between screen time and autism must improve

by  /  29 August 2022
Showing an association is not enough to determine causation.
Portrait of Judy Van De Water at her home in Fort Bragg, CA, with her paintings.

Beyond the Bench: A conversation with Judy Van de Water

by  /  12 August 2022
When Van de Water isn’t busy mentoring “the next generation of scientists” in her lab, she finds time to paint, watch HGTV and hang out with her horse, Hank.
August 2022
A pregnant woman and another figure are obscured by shadows.

Maternal genetics may confound studies of autism’s link to prenatal factors

by  /  2 August 2022

Women who carry genetic variants tied to autism have an elevated chance of experiencing pregnancy-related events linked to the condition in their children.

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April 2022

The placenta and neurodevelopment: A conversation with Anna Penn

by  /  19 April 2022

The temporary organ may hold clues about the origins of autism and brain development, Anna Penn says — if only researchers would study it.

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March 2022

Lisa Croen: Autism’s first dedicated epidemiologist

by  /  28 March 2022

Inspired by watching her autistic nephew grow up, Croen has also been an advocate for bolstering research and services for autistic adults.

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February 2022
Conceptual illustration of female brain versus male brain.

Searching for the biology behind autism’s sex bias

by  /  11 February 2022

The fact that autism seems to affect more boys than girls is often attributed to diagnostic gaps, but the skew remains largely unexplained. Some scientists are turning to basic biology for answers.

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Enrichment lessens Angelman-like traits in male mice

by  /  2 February 2022

Model animals don’t develop the usual behavioral and motor problems when reared in an enclosure containing exercise wheels, toys and treats.

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January 2022
Micrograph of intestinal bacteria.

Infection in pregnant mice ups risk of gut problems in pups

by  /  18 January 2022

Infection during pregnancy can tweak a mouse’s gut microbiome in ways that have lasting effects on her pups’ immune system and increase their chances of gut inflammation, a new study suggests.

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FDA cites hair-based autism diagnostic aid as ‘breakthrough’

by  /  17 January 2022

Despite scant publicly available data, makers of the ‘exposome’-based method say it could help with diagnosing autism and identifying subtypes.

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December 2021
wooden pebble shapes stacked on top of each other, at varying heights, and according to colors of the spectrum.

Autism by the numbers: Explaining its apparent rise

by  /  22 December 2021

For Spectrum’s fourth annual book, we offer a guide to prevalence estimates.

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Illustration of DNA helix highlighting the methylation process.

DNA methylation in autism, explained

by  /  13 December 2021

How chemical tags called methyl groups position themselves on genetic sequences may hint at some of the causes of autism.

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October 2021
Illustration: microbes clumped together forming the shape of a brain. The microbes are pink, blue, aqua, and red. Set against a dark blue background.

Despite flurry of findings, doubts dog gut microbes’ role in autism

by  /  19 October 2021

The possibility of microbial treatments for autism has inspired a burst of research and nascent clinical trials, but new research suggests these efforts rest on shaky scientific ground.

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