Study: Autism starts from brain changes in the womb

1 Apr

Moi has posted quite a bit about autism. Studies indicate that the incidence of autism is growing in the population. In order for children with autism to reach their full potential there must be early diagnosis and treatment. Alice Park of Time reported in the article, U.S. Autism Rates Jump 30% From 2012:

One in 68 eight-year-olds in the U.S. is now affected by autism spectrum disorder, according to new CDC data. The prevalence of autism has continued to climb upward, from affecting 1 in every 150 eight-year-olds studied in 2000, to 1 in 88 in 2008
One in 68 eight-year-olds in the U.S. is now affected by autism spectrum disorder, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The data come from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, which has tracked the developmental disorder periodically since 2000.
Based on medical or school records (including access to special education services) for a representative group of 5,338 children from 11 sites in 2010, the researchers report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that one in 68 met the criteria for an autism spectrum disorder, a 30% increase over the last ADDM survey, released in 2012, based on 2008 data that revealed a one in 88 rate.
Since the ADDM began, the prevalence of autism has continued to climb upward, from affecting one in every 150 eight-year-olds studied in 2000, to one of 110 children studied in 2004 and 2006, to one in 88 in 2008. Now, the government report estimates, 1.2 million children under 21 are affected by some form of autism.
While definitions of autism have changed slightly during that time, experts attribute most of the increase to greater awareness of the developmental disorder among parents, teachers, and doctors. At home, parents are more attuned to signs that their child may not be communicating properly or acquiring the social skills needed to interact with siblings, family and friends. Teachers are also trained to recognize behavioral symptoms in the classroom, and doctors are more comfortable asking about and diagnosing autism disorders by symptoms that usually start appearing around age two…. http://time.com/#40524/u-s-autism-rates-jump-30-from-2012/

Several studies suggest that autism may start in the womb.

Jon Hamilton of NPR reported in the story, Brain Changes Suggest Autism Starts In The Womb:

The symptoms of autism may not be obvious until a child is a toddler, but the disorder itself appears to begin well before birth.
Brain tissue taken from children who died and also happened to have autism revealed patches of disorganization in the cortex, a thin sheet of cells that’s critical for learning and memory, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Tissue samples from children without autism didn’t have those characteristic patches.
Organization of the cortex begins in the second trimester of pregnancy. “So something must have gone wrong at or before that time,” says Eric Courchesne, an author of the paper and director of the Autism Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego.
The finding should bolster efforts to understand how genes control brain development and lead to autism. It also suggests that treatment should start early in childhood, when the brain is capable of rewiring to work around damaged areas.
The study grew out of research by Courchesne on development of the cortex in children with autism. In typical kids, the cortex is “like a layer cake,” he says. “There are six layers, one on top of the other, and in each layer there are different types of brain cells.”
Courchesne suspected that these layers might be altered in the brains of children with autism. So he and a team of researchers studied samples of cortex from 11 children with autism and an equal number of typical kids. The cortex came from areas known to be associated with the symptoms of autism.
In the brain tissue from typical children, the cortex had six distinct layers, each made up of a specific type of cell. But in the children with autism, “there are patches in which specific cells in specific layers seem to be missing,” Courchesne says. So instead of distinct layers, there are disorganized collections of brain cells.
These patches of disorganized cortex would have different effects on the brain depending on where they occur and how many there are, Courchesne says. That could help explain why the symptoms of autism vary so much.
And finding that the damage isn’t everywhere suggests how a child’s brain might compensate by rewiring to avoid the trouble spots, Courchesne says. “That’s one of our guesses about how it is that autistic children, with treatment, very commonly get better,” he says.
The new study appears to confirm research from the University of California, Los Angeles showing that people with autism tend to have genetic changes that could disturb the formation of layers in the cortex.
And it adds to the already considerable evidence that autism starts in the womb, says Dr. Stanley Nelson, a geneticist at UCLA. “The overwhelming set of data is that the problems are existing during brain development, probably as an embryo or fetus,” he says.
But some of the new study’s findings are surprising and even a bit perplexing, Nelson says. For example, it’s odd that only certain bits of brain tissue contain these disorganized cells. “Why is the whole cortex not disorganized?” he says.
It’s also odd that 10 of the 11 children with autism had the same sort of disorganized patches of cortex, Nelson says. That’s not what you would expect with a disorder known to involve many different genes, presumably affecting many different aspects of brain development….http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/03/26/294446735/brain-changes-suggest-autism-starts-in-the-womb?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=share&utm_campaign=storyshare

Citation

Patches of Disorganization in the Neocortex of Children with Autism
Rich Stoner, Ph.D., Maggie L. Chow, Ph.D., Maureen P. Boyle, Ph.D., Susan M. Sunkin, Ph.D., Peter R. Mouton, Ph.D., Subhojit Roy, M.D., Ph.D., Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, M.D., Ph.D., Sophia A. Colamarino, Ph.D., Ed S. Lein, Ph.D., and Eric Courchesne, Ph.D.
N Engl J Med 2014; 370:1209-1219March 27, 2014DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1307491
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BACKGROUND
Autism involves early brain overgrowth and dysfunction, which is most strongly evident in the prefrontal cortex. As assessed on pathological analysis, an excess of neurons in the prefrontal cortex among children with autism signals a disturbance in prenatal development and may be concomitant with abnormal cell type and laminar development.
METHODS
To systematically examine neocortical architecture during the early years after the onset of autism, we used RNA in situ hybridization with a panel of layer- and cell-type–specific molecular markers to phenotype cortical microstructure. We assayed markers for neurons and glia, along with genes that have been implicated in the risk of autism, in prefrontal, temporal, and occipital neocortical tissue from postmortem samples obtained from children with autism and unaffected children between the ages of 2 and 15 years.
RESULTS
We observed focal patches of abnormal laminar cytoarchitecture and cortical disorganization of neurons, but not glia, in prefrontal and temporal cortical tissue from 10 of 11 children with autism and from 1 of 11 unaffected children. We observed heterogeneity between cases with respect to cell types that were most abnormal in the patches and the layers that were most affected by the pathological features. No cortical layer was uniformly spared, with the clearest signs of abnormal expression in layers 4 and 5. Three-dimensional reconstruction of layer markers confirmed the focal geometry and size of patches.
CONCLUSIONS
In this small, explorative study, we found focal disruption of cortical laminar architecture in the cortexes of a majority of young children with autism. Our data support a probable dysregulation of layer formation and layer-specific neuronal differentiation at prenatal developmental stages. (Funded by the Simons Foundation and others.)

Parents must pay attention to whether their children are developing within the parameters of what is appropriate for the child’s age.

Resources:

For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network (BRAIN) at:
BRAIN
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
(800) 352 9424
http://www.ninds.nih.gov

Association for Science in Autism Treatment
P.O. Box 188
Crosswicks, NJ 08515-0188
info@asatonline.org http://www.asatonline.org

Autism National Committee (AUTCOM)
P.O. Box 429
Forest Knolls, CA 94933 http://www.autcom.org

Autism Network International (ANI)
P.O. Box 35448
Syracuse, NY 13235-5448
jisincla@syr.edu http://www.ani.ac

Autism Research Institute (ARI)
4182 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116
director@autism.com http://www.autismresearchinstitute.com
Tel: 866-366-3361
Fax: 619-563-6840

Autism Science Foundation
419 Lafayette Street
2nd floor
New York, NY 10003
contactus@autismsciencefoundation.org http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org/
Tel: 646-723-3978
Fax: 212-228-3557

Autism Society of America
4340 East-West Highway
Suite 350
Bethesda, MD 20814 http://www.autism-society.org
Tel: 301-657-0881 800-3AUTISM (328-8476)
Fax: 301-657-0869

Autism Speaks, Inc.
2 Park Avenue
11th Floor
New York, NY 10016
contactus@autismspeaks.org http://www.autismspeaks.org
Tel: 212-252-8584 California: 310-230-3568
Fax: 212-252-8676 Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc.
976 Lake Baldwin Lane
Suite 104
Orlando, FL 32814
betty@birthdefects.org
http://www.birthdefects.org
Tel: 407-895-0802

MAAP Services for Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and PDD
P.O. Box 524
Crown Point, IN 46308
info@aspergersyndrome.org http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/
Tel: 219-662-1311
Fax: 219-662-1315

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
1825 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009
nichcy@aed.org http://www.nichcy.org
Tel: 800-695-0285 202-884-8200
Fax: 202-884-8441

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
31 Center Drive, Rm. 2A32 MSC 2425
Bethesda, MD 20892-2425 http://www.nichd.nih.gov
Tel: 301-496-5133
Fax: 301-496-7101 National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Information Clearinghouse
1 Communication Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20892-3456
nidcdinfo@nidcd.nih.gov http://www.nidcd.nih.gov
Tel: 800-241-1044 800-241-1055 (TTD/TTY)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
111 T.W. Alexander Drive
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
webcenter@niehs.nih.gov http://www.niehs.nih.gov
Tel: 919-541-3345

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6001 Executive Blvd. Rm. 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
nimhinfo@nih.gov http://www.nimh.nih.gov
Tel: 301-443-4513/866-415-8051 301-443-8431 (TTY)
Fax: 301-

Related:

Father’s age may be linked to Autism and Schizophrenia https://drwilda.com/2012/08/26/fathers-age-may-be-linked-to-autism-and-schizophrenia/

Autism and children of color https://drwilda.com/tag/autism-not-diagnosed-as-early-in-minority-children/

Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine study: Kids with autism more likely to be bullied https://drwilda.com/2012/09/06/archives-of-pediatrics-and-adolescent-medicine-study-kids-with-autism-more-likely-to-be-bullied/

Chelation treatment for autism might be harmful https://drwilda.com/2012/12/02/chelation-treatment-for-autism-might-be-harmful/

University of Connecticut study: Some children with autism may be ‘cured’ with intense early therapy https://drwilda.com/tag/optimal-outcome-in-individuals-with-a-history-of-autism/

Children of older fathers can have genetic issues: Study reports mental illness risk higher https://drwilda.com/2014/02/28/children-of-older-fathers-can-have-genetic-issues-study-reports-mental-illness-risk-higher/

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