LATEST DEVELOPMENT ON AUTISM RESEARCH
With approximately 1.5% of the American children being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it is definitely a very serious medical condition that require our utmost attention and effort. Lots of resources have been devoted to myriads of researches about ASD so that both the suffering children and their loved ones can heave sighs of relief and live normal, healthy life.
The following are some of the most recent development and discoveries on the research carried out on ASD.
- Autism is a Genetic Disorder
It has been definitely found out now that ASD stems from some genetic mutations (i.e. some permanent alterations in genes which could lead to deformities or disorders). Some researchers have recently been done on the human genome and some genes and genetic mutations has been identified to be responsible for ASD. These researches have confirmed about 60 genes to be responsible for ASD out of about 500 genes associated with it. More researches are still underway to uncover what role each gene plays in causing ASD.
A team led by Michael Ronemus, in a recent research, has discovered new mutations in some 12 genes that show very high probability of ASD among boys.
- Difficult Brain Pruning May Lead to ASD
To comprehend how, with accuracy and high-level precision, genetic mutations inhibit brain development and maturation, neuroscientists have delved into the investigative studies of what is peculiar in how the brains of the children who are suffering from ASD function. Based on this approach, neuroscientists have begun the investigation on what might be going wrong during the brain cell pruning process in the children with ASD.
Brain cell pruning is the process by which the brain gets rid of insignificant connections while reinforcing the significant ones going by experience.
In a recent paper published on neurons, research has shown that some higher-level polymers interfere with the brain cell pruning process and hence, these polymers cause ASD.
- Children With ASD has Different White Matter Fiber Tracts
The white matter fiber tracts, the superhighways of the brain, which allow the effective transfer of information among different regions of the brain and hence, helps in the articulate, coordinated operations of the brain.
Studies by some scientists at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have revealed that at an early stage of 6 months, children with ASD have greater frequency of Fractional Anisotropy (FA) in the major white matter fiber tracts. Fractional Anisotropy is an indication that the white matter fibers are highly directional and polar in nature. Higher FA indicates greater level of structural organization at the micro level. However, the children with ASD have much slower rate of change in FA and as such they have much slower structural organization at the micro level.
This shows that the dynamics of development of the white matter fibers may become abnormal even at few months old in those who are suffering from ASD. In a more general term, this implies that the superhighways are not working as they should.
- Seek Medical Help Early Enough
Scientists have been able to establish that seeking medical help early enough on behalf of those children with ASD could help improve the IQ and the language abilities in these children. By using the data supplied by the electroencephalography, scientists have been able to assess the electrical activities going on in the brain during tasks. It has been found that children who have completed the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), a behavioral model, showed better and more improved cortical activation and quicker neural response when they are looking at faces in comparison to objects, while those who received normal treatment exhibit the opposite pattern.
More so, better cortical activation with face- viewing has been associated with improved social behaviors. This implies that the ESDM approach may enhance brain changes that lead to better social behaviors, improved language abilities and higher IQ.
- A group of NIH researchers have discovered some patterns of behavioral and genetic features observed in some cases of ASD that may help us to identify different subgroups and better treatment.
Those children suffering from ASD who show spontaneous, non-inherited alterations in autism-linked genes exhibited subtle core autism symptoms in relations to social behavioral patterns and language abilities in comparison to age, IQ and sex in ASD children whose genetic abnormalities are not known.
Altogether, the discoveries discussed above all reveal the great job our scientists are doing to improve the lots of the children affected by autism. From establishing better intervention models to shedding more light on the roles of each individual polymer and gene, scientists have continued in their noble quests of unraveling great mysteries that have for a long time been surrounding autism and have increasingly brought hope to the children with autism and their loved ones.
- Martha, B. (2015, April 21). 4 new research findings about autism [Web log post].
Retrieved November 7, 2017, from http://www.scilearn.com/blog/4-new-research-findings-about-autism
- NIH (2017, March 24). Delayed walking may signal spontaneous gene anomalies in autism [Web log post].
Retrieved November 8, 2017, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2017/delayed-walking-may-signal-spontaneous-gene-anomalies-in-autism.shtml