November 6th, 2013
02:11 PM ET
The first signs of autism may be visible as early as the first month of a child's life, according to a study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.
"These are the earliest signs of autism ever observed," says lead study author Warren Jones.
Researchers at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta followed 110 children from birth to age 3, at which point a diagnosis of autism was ascertained. Fifty-nine babies were considered "high risk" for developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because they had siblings with autism; 51 were considered "low risk" because they did not have first, second or third-degree relatives with ASD. FULL POST
October 18th, 2013
06:46 PM ET
Here's a roundup of five medical studies published recently that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.
Autism cases in the UK rose but leveled off
We've been hearing for the past several years that autism is on the rise but by how much? A new study shows that while autism cases among 8-year-olds in the United Kingdom rose five-fold in the 1990s, the numbers plateaued early in the 21st century and have held since 2010.
That's quite a contrast to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found a 78% increase in the condition in 8-year-old children from 2004 to 2008 in the United States.
August 12th, 2013
04:01 PM ET
As scientists struggle to understand the causes of autism, a potential new pattern has emerged: The condition is associated with induced or augmented labor, according to a new study.
Induction means stimulating contractions before spontaneous labor begins. Augmentation means helping contractions become stronger, longer or more frequent. Both of these methods of expediting deliveries have helped mothers who have health conditions that could be detrimental to them or their child.
The researchers did not prove that these treatments cause autism. Women should not read the new study, which is published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, and decide against expediting labor on that basis, said Simon Gregory, researcher at Duke University Medical Center and lead author of the study.
July 2nd, 2013
06:41 PM ET
While new research finds no significant link between autism and singleton children conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF), a slightly increased risk of mental retardation, or intellectual disability, was found following IVF treatment including intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
ICSI involves the injection of a single sperm into an egg to fertilize it. Researchers found when ICSI was used to overcome male infertility, the risk for intellectual disability increased slightly compared to IVF without ICSI.
"The reasons (for an increased risk) could be the underlying infertility,” says Abraham Reichenberg, one of the study authors and a professor at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York and King's College London.
“It could be something happening in the many steps that are involved in each of the treatments, or something that's happening later in the pregnancies, or all of them combined together. It could be any one of those steps. In any one of them it could go wrong." FULL POST
June 17th, 2013
09:13 AM ET
Editor's Note: Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh is a resident psychiatrist at Emory University's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.
African-American and Hispanic children are far less likely to be seen by specialists - for autism, but also other medical conditions - and also less likely to receive specialized medical tests than their white peers, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Dr. Sarahbeth Broder-Fingert and colleagues studied the records of 3,615 children with autism at the Massachusetts General Hospital, specifically looking at the rates of both referral to specialists and medical tests undertaken. They discovered that children from African-American and Hispanic families were far less likely to receive specialized care or specific medical tests such as a sleep study, colonoscopy, or endoscopy.
When compared to their white peers, African-American children were three times less likely to see a gastroenterologist or nutritionist, and half as likely to see a neurologist or mental health specialist, according to the study. The story is similar among children from Hispanic families.
March 29th, 2013
11:08 AM ET
Many expectant parents are wary of all the recommended vaccines their newborns are supposed to get in the first hours, days and even the first couple of years, believing that too many vaccines too soon may increase their child's risk for autism.
A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics Friday may put them at ease. Researchers found no association between autism and the number of vaccines a child gets in one day or during the first two years of the current vaccine schedule.
The research was led by Dr. Frank DeStefano, director of the Immunization Safety Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Together with two colleagues, DeStefano and his team collected data on 256 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 752 children who did not have autism. The children were all born between 1994 and 1999 and were all continuously enrolled in one of three managed-care organizations through their second birthday. FULL POST
March 20th, 2013
04:54 PM ET
Being abused as a child may increase a mother's chance of having a child with autism, according to a new study, but researchers aren't sure why.
Investigators at The Harvard School of Public Health looked at more than 50,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study II group, and found that those who reported the highest levels of abuse as children themselves were 60% more likely to have children with some type of autism-spectrum disorder.
March 20th, 2013
04:09 PM ET
The number of children with autism is "significantly" higher than previously thought, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
School-aged boys were four times more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis than girls, according to the new data.
The CDC released a report a year ago estimating 1 in 88 American children has a form of autism spectrum disorder - neurodevelopmental disorders that lead to impaired language, communication and social skills. The report looked at medical and educational records of all 8-year-olds living in 14 areas of the United States during 2008. FULL POST
February 12th, 2013
04:03 PM ET
Taking folic acid before pregnancy, and through the first several weeks of pregnancy, may help reduce the risk of autism for those children, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Researchers in Norway looked at data from 85,000 pregnancies, and found that women who took the supplement four weeks before pregnancy, and through the eighth week of pregnancy, were 39% less likely to have children with autism.
The Norwegian study is the largest to date on the benefits of folic acid for autism prevention, and marks one of the first tangible things a woman can do to reduce her risk of giving birth to a child with the disorder. FULL POST
November 12th, 2012
02:57 PM ET
If a mother has an infection or the flu during pregnancy, can it raise the risk of autism for her child? A new study out of Denmark suggests that the answer is "probably not" and "maybe" and that the issue definitely needs more study.
"Overall, we found little evidence that various types of mild common infectious diseases or febrile episodes during pregnancy were associated with ASD/infantile autism (autism spectrum disorders)," the study authors wrote.
But they also say their data suggest there are three scenarios in which there might be an increased risk of the child developing autism. If the mother had the flu, there was "a two-fold increased risk of infantile autism; if the mom had "prolonged episodes of fever" (lasting a week or more), the risk goes up threefold; "and use of various antibiotics during pregnancy were potential risk factors for ASD/infantile autism."
But the study authors also concede that the results may be skewed by multiple testing, contributing to the potential for “chance findings.” FULL POST
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.