The Weekly Mind Reader: Finding Autism’s Origins

by Staff Writer
March 31, 2023 at 11:05 AM UTC

minor ear anomalies are more common in people with depressive order.

The cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remains elusive. The research is all over the place and the internet is riddled with false claims and conspiracy theories. A new community-based study has attempted to cut through the noise by identifying risk factors associated with pregnancy and birth.

To start off The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders investigation, Indian researchers screened children between 1.5 and 10 years for autism. The researchers then obtained information about the antenatal and perinatal periods from hospital records to compare children on the spectrum with a group of controls. 

Among the study’s conclusions:

  • When a mother had a history of pregnancy-induced hypertension, her child was 6.3 times more likely to receive an autism diagnosis. (The researchers say this is consistent with other studies though not statistically significant.)
  • For mothers who had bleeding per vaginum during the pre-birth period, the chances her child would have autism were 7.7 times greater.
  • Children with autism had 10 times higher odds of cardiorespiratory compromise compared to controls.
  • The connection to metabolic abnormalities was 12 times higher than normal.
  • Autism’s association to birth asphyxia was 12.6 times higher than average.
  • And for neonatal sepsis, the odds of a connection were 16 times higher in the children with autism versus controls.

“Birth complications like trauma or ischemia have been found to be strongly linked to ASD,” the authors wrote. “Our study thus confirms that birth trauma or injury was a factor associated with autism risk…”

This study certainly doesn’t clear up all the mysteries surrounding the causes of autism. But it does provide some valuable bread crumbs to help guide where future research might go. 

In other psychiatry and neurology news this week:

  • Another study sought to find connections between a mother’s use of medications during pregnancy and neurodevelopmental disorders in her children. This could also shed some light on pregnancy and birth related links to autism.
  • First-episode schizophrenia patients with suicidal ideation and substance use disorder are often excluded from clinical trials. But should they be? Researchers argue that without them, they could be missing valuable insights.
  • Review the case of a man with late-onset OCD experiencing religious obsessions with no family history and no structural brain abnormalities.
  • Increased amyloid beta protein and other biomarkers are present in the retinas of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, a new study suggested. Perhaps one day a simple eye exam will help find and treat dementia.
  • Coming next week: a paper that explores the heavy economic and social burden tardive kinesea places on patients, along with some possible solutions.
  • They say you should never meet your heroes. But as our Tweet of the Week demonstrates, meeting Anthony Fauci is the exception.

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