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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Spotted A roundup of autism papers and media mentions you may have missed.

Spotted around the web: Anti-Black racism, mouse model pitfalls, supporting lab scientists

by  /  1 October 2021

September 27th

Research roundup

  • The chances of having autism are 3.3 times higher in children born preterm than in the general population, according to an analysis of 52 studies. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Autism researchers call on clinicians to examine how their practices and institutions engage in anti-Black racism. Autism
  • Children of women who take antidepressants or mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder have an increased likelihood of having autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, an analysis in Taiwan suggests. Journal of Affective Disorders
  • A homolog of the autism-linked gene AUTS2 affects neuronal excitability and escape behavior in zebrafish. eNeuro
  • Telehealth interviews with caregivers concerned about their baby’s development may be a feasible way to recruit participants for studies of biomarkers or interventions for autism. Autism
  • The brain malformations found in one set of mice with mutations in the autism-linked CNTNAP2 or SHANK3 genes are identical to those seen in a standard mouse strain widely used by researchers. Spectrum has previously covered the pitfalls associated with studying this inbred strain, called C57BL/6. Neuroscience Letters
  • Autistic children differed from non-autistic children in a brain imaging study in which participants watched videos designed to assess social attribution. Translational Psychiatry

Science and society

  • The largest genetic study of autism in the United Kingdom, launched a month ago, has been shut down in response to criticism that researchers didn’t adequately consult with the autism community. Nature
  • Ruth Christ Sullivan, parent of an autistic child, advocate, expert and co-founder of the Autism Society of America, has died at age 97. The Washington Post
  • Season 2 of Netflix’s popular show “Love on the Spectrum” is back, featuring many of its original cast members. Read Spectrum board member Sara Luterman’s review of Season 1.
  • The Australian Research Council has reversed its policy banning mention of preprints on grant applications. Nature
  • Whole-genome sequencing as a screening tool for babies may identify not only potential health issues, but also mutations with unknown outcomes. Spectrum covered the murky ethical ground of screening for autism-linked mutations earlier this year. Science
  • Clear and thoughtful guidelines and structures for research laboratories can support the mental health of the people who work there. Neuron

    Laboratory health:
    A safe and collaborative lab culture may promote its members’ well-being.

  • Andrew Whitehouse tweeted a defense of his study of a behavioral therapy for babies displaying some autism-like traits, which Spectrum covered last week, while acknowledging some of the problematic media headlines. Twitter
  • James Cusack, head of the U.K.-based autism charity Autistica, delves into the complexities presented by the Whitehouse study — supportive help for autistic children and their families versus loss of services if children don’t meet the threshold for a diagnosis. The Guardian

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