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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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Rare or common, inherited or spontaneous, mutations form the core of autism risk.

March 2012

Genetics: Maternal and paternal age increase risk of autism

by  /  6 March 2012

The odds of having a child with autism begin to rise at age 35 for both men and women, but that risk does not increase further when both parents are over 35, according to a large study published in the March issue of Annals of Epidemiology.

Child's eye looking to the right, close up.

Large eye-tracking study highlights diversity of autism

by  /  5 March 2012

Children with autism who have different verbal and intellectual abilities seem to glean useful social information from different parts of the face, according to the largest-ever eye-tracking study of the disorder. The findings are published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.


Molecular mechanisms: Protein synthesis boosted in fragile X

by  /  2 March 2012

A cellular pathway that initiates protein synthesis may be overactive in individuals with fragile X syndrome, according a study published 23 January in Genes, Brain and Behavior.

February 2012

MRI devices for children reduce head motion in scanner

by  /  29 February 2012

Researchers have developed functional magnetic imaging devices that are optimized to fit children’s heads, according to a study published in the December issue of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. These tools increase the quality of the data and deter head motion, which research suggests can lead to spurious results.


Clinical research: Autism genes linked to autoimmune disease

by  /  29 February 2012

The genetic risk factors for autism may also increase a person’s risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis of the spine, and decrease the risk of multiple sclerosis, according to a study published 13 December in Translational Psychiatry.


Cognition and behavior: Contaminant acts with autism gene

by  /  28 February 2012

A commonly used flame retardant may lead to deficits in sociability, learning and memory in healthy female mice and those that model Rett syndrome, according to a study published 15 February in Human Molecular Genetics. The effects are different in Rett syndrome models compared with healthy mice, suggesting gene-environment interactions.


Major errors in genome can be harmless

by  /  27 February 2012

More than 250 genes in the human genome — about one percent of our genes — can be eliminated without serious health effects, according to research published last week in Science.


Genetics: Different mutations lead to autism in same family

by  /  24 February 2012

Twin brothers who have autism carry a non-inherited duplication that overlaps with 16p11.2, a chromosomal region that has been associated with autism. Their brother, who also has autism, has a nearby deletion within 16p11.2, according to a study published 11 January in the European Journal of Human Genetics.


Molecular mechanisms: Study reveals new fragile X drug target

by  /  22 February 2012

Researchers have identified a new mechanism that may underlie a runaway cell signaling pathway in fragile X syndrome. The results were published 22 January in Nature Neuroscience.  


Study charts methylation patterns in developing brain

by  /  22 February 2012

Researchers have charted patterns of DNA methylation — a chemical alteration to DNA that modifies gene expression — in the planning center of the brain from before birth to old age. The results were published 10 February in The American Journal of Human Genetics.