Low Vitamin D Levels at Birth Linked to Higher Autism Risk

In the study of 27,940 newborns in China, 310 were diagnosed with ASDs at 3 years of age, with a prevalence of 1.11 percent. When the 310 children with ASDs were compared with 1,240 control subjects, the risk of ASDs was significantly increased in each of the three lower quartiles of vitamin D level at birth, when compared with the highest quartile: an increased risk of ASDs by 260 percent in the lowest quartile, 150 percent in the second quartile, and 90 percent in the third quartile.

"Neonatal vitamin D status was significantly associated with the risk of ASDs and intellectual disability," said senior author Dr. Yuan-Lin Zheng.

To read more about Vitamin D and its link to Autism, click here.

For more on Vitamin D and its health benefits, click here.





The Benefits of Wearing a Medical ID Bracelet


The Benefits of Wearing a Medical ID Bracelet

According to the Autism Society, 1% of the world’s population is diagnosed with the neurodevelopment disorder known as autism. It seems to be more prevalent in the United States, as 1 in 68 children have the disease. Alzheimer's Association reports that an estimated 5.5 million Americans are living with the condition, with 5.3 million of them aged 65 or more. These are two debilitating conditions that can cause mobility issues, memory problems, and other complications. Medical IDs are giving these patients and their caregiver’s new hope.

What Are Medical Ids?

Medical IDs are tags or emblems that people wear as necklaces or bracelets. Also called a ‘personal identification bracelet’ it conveys the message that the wearer is suffering from a severe medical condition and may need immediate medical assistance.

People with Alzheimer's or Autism are often unable to express themselves clearly, and sometimes they may have memory lapses too. Many of them also face mobility challenges. Living in a mobility friendly home will help, but they may need assistance outdoors during an episode. A medical ID bracelet can be a life saver for these people. The bracelet will also help those diagnosed with epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, people with food allergies, and those who need transplants.

How These Bracelets Work

The bracelet will tell others that the person may need immediate medical assistance in an emergency. The medical alert tag is engraved with critical information like the person’s name, his ID number, medical conditions, allergies, blood type, medicines, emergency contact number and such others. Those working in emergency services, such as paramedics, ER staff, and even the police and firefighters are trained to look for medical IDs. Friends and family can also be trained. They can access the database and inform physicians about the condition and its history when the patient is unable to communicate himself.

Benefits of Wearing a Medical ID Bracelet

There are many benefits of wearing the bracelet. It saves lives, eliminates hospital trips, helps you avoid unnecessary hospital admissions, and prevents a minor emergency from becoming a major crisis. Prompt diagnosis and early detection are always critical for effective treatment.

The bracelet will also protect you against medical errors made at the time of admission or discharge. A National Center for Biotechnology Information report suggests such errors are quite common. In fact, half of all medical errors happen during the time of admission or discharge. A small overlooked fact from your medical history can have a huge impact on the recovery. The bracelet reminds physicians and helps them avoid costly mistakes.

Medical ID bracelets serve many purposes. But their main objective is to allow healthcare professionals and first responders get an in-depth view of the patient’s medical condition and history so that the right treatment can be administered without delay. The bracelet is of immense help when the patient is not able to communicate clearly.


​_ Lucy Wyndham​

5 Tips for Keeping Your Child With Autism Safe

Wandering is a paramount safety concern for families with autistic children.A recent study by the National Autism Association found that nearly a third of reported missing person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) cases ended in death. Accidental drowning was responsible for over 70% of lethal outcomes, with the highest number of deaths occurring in children ages 5-9.

Furthermore, children with autism may also wonder away from their parents and enter commercial property not suited for autistic children. For this reason, parents should always keep an eye on their young one and always ensure a safe environment. Here are five things parents and caregivers can do to ensure safety for their children with ASD.

Secure the Home

Install locks and alarms on all windows and doors. Make sure the garage door openers are out of reach. Ensure that your yard has a secure fence and that all gates stay securely latched. Parents can also install visual cues like stop signs in potential exit areas, and work with children to slow down or stop on sight.

Dialogue With the School

Parents can request an individual aid for their child, and educate staff on the importance of vigilance and quick response in the event of a missing ASD child. Parents can also work with aids or counselors at the school to tailor a learning plan, so children practice safety skills at school.

Use Personal Monitoring Devices

There are a variety ofGPS monitoring devices that parents can use to track their children. Some of these devices will even alert parents when a child goes out of range. Parents can also usemedical ID bracelets, wallet cards, and more that enable emergency response personnel to identify the child, understand individual needs, and alert caregivers.

Communicate Clearly & Practice Relieving Stress

Preparing for stressful transitions and situations is half the battle. Parents and caregivers can work together in a tag team system, communicating clearly so that the child is always under purposeful supervision. They can also work with children to practice stress relieving techniques, so children are less likely to leave in unsafe environments.

Contact Lawmakers

As the prevalence of ASD rises, it’s important to alert local, statewide, and federal legislation bodie. Wandering-related deaths can be reduced by providing training to first responders and resources to families.

Losing a child due to wandering is a tragedy that no parent should have to endure. Parents can take steps to build a supportive community that understands the danger of wandering for children with autism and work to put safeguards in place to ensure their children’s safety at home and at school.

Study Picks up Autism Broadcast in Tiny Antennae on Cells

Source: SFARI.org

Jessica Wright

Mutations in a section of chromosome 16 that is linked to autism have an unexpected effect: They alter the miniscule, static hairs, called cilia, that adorn the surface of all cells. The findings, reported 7 May in the American Journal of Human Genetics, suggest that problems with these cilia may contribute to autism1.

“We don’t know what the ciliary contribution to autism is, but there is one. There's no question about it,” says Nicholas Katsanis, professor of cell biology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and one of the researchers on the study.

People with too few or too many copies of a segment of chromosome 16 called 16p11.2 show a wide range of features. Those with deletions, for example, tend to have unusually large heads and obesity. Those with duplications typically have small heads and minimal body fat. Roughly 20 percent of people with either variant have autism.

The new study suggests that some of these symptoms stem from abnormal cilia. It also raises the possibility that drugs that target these cilia ease symptoms of autism. For example, the researchers found that a mutation in CEP290, a gene necessary for the formation of cilia, mitigates the consequences of a mutation in a 16p11.2 gene. A drug could try to mimic that effect.

They also found a girl with a 16p11.2 deletion and a CEP290 mutation who has milder symptoms than many other people with the deletion.

“The possible role of ciliary genes [in autism] is intriguing,” says Raphael Bernier, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington in Seattle, who was not involved in the study.

Super hairs:

In the new study, Alexandre Reymond and his colleagues analyzed gene expression in the blood of 50 people with deletions and 31 people with duplications in 16p11.2. They found 1,188 genes whose expression is altered in these people relative to 17 controls.

Among the genes is a group known for its role in Bardet-Biedl and Joubert syndromes, disorders caused by mutations in ciliary genes. Bardet-Biedl syndrome leads to kidney problems, vision loss, obesity and some autism-like traits, such social deficits and restricted behaviors2. Joubert syndrome has also been linked to autism.

Still, no one had followed up on how mutations in cilia genes might lead to autism symptoms.

Of the 30 genes that have been linked to Bardet-Biedl and Joubert syndromes, 10 turned up in Reymond’s analysis.

“This of course raised our eyebrows,” says Reymond, associate professor at the University of Lausanne in France.

Reymond then remembered that his colleague Katsanis had studied cilia early in his career. But Katsanis had switched fields to autism because, he says, he was tired of working on cilia.

“Alex calls me on my cell [phone] and says, ‘Guess what? We think that there's a link between the 16p pathology and cilia,’” Katsanis recalls. “I think what I said to him was, ‘Bullshit,’ and ‘Oh, good Lord, no!’”

To see how 16p11.2 genes might affect cilia on neurons, Katsanis and Reymond turned to mice. Mice with deletions of the region show abnormal expression of cilia genes: higher expression of CEP290, for example, and lower expression of another gene, BBS7. The cilia’s shape is not obviously abnormal, however.

The duplication has the opposite effect on these two genes. And the mice have abnormally short cilia in a part of the hippocampus, a brain region involved in memory.

The researchers also manipulated cilia genes in zebrafish embryos with 16p11.2 mutations. Blocking the expression of KCDT13, a gene in the 16p11.2 region, results in fish with enlarged heads, reminiscent of the increased head size seen in people with 16p11.2 deletions, Katsanis and his team reported in 2012. But when the researchers blocked the expression of CEP290 or raised that of BBS7 in these zebrafish, the fish’s heads were smaller, closer in size to those of normal fish.

“It’s intriguing that the ciliary genes actually rescue the phenotype,” says Lilia Iakoucheva, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the study.

Some of these genes may turn out to modify the effects of autism-linked mutations, says Reymond. For example, the researchers looked at more than 300 families with a history of 16p11.2 mutations and found one particularly intriguing case.

The girl they identified has a 16p11.2 deletion and a mutation in CEP290. She does not have seizures or autism and has a normal head size. Her intelligence quotient is 89 — lower than that of her parents but higher than average for people with the deletion.

Her case suggests that similar mutations offset the effects of 16p11.2 mutations, says Reymond. “It’s an N of one, but at least the N of one doesn’t go against our hypothesis,” he says.

News and Opinion articles on SFARI.org are editorially independent of the Simons Foundation.


1. Migliavacca E. et al. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 96, 784-796 (2015) PubMed

2. Kerr E.N. et al. Clin. Genet. Eput ahead of print (2015) PubMed

Read more at SFARI.org

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