Antidepressant use in early pregnancy does not increase autism & ADHD risk in kids

Large-scale analysis suggests fewer risks than previously thought from exposure to antidepressant medications in early pregnancy | ScienceDaily

pregnancy-466129_960_720.jpg

A study led by Indiana University suggests that mothers’ use of antidepressants during early pregnancy does not increase the risk of their children developing autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conditions previously associated with these medications.

The research, reported today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found significant evidence for only a slight increase in risk for premature birth in the infants of mothers who used antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy.

After controlling for multiple other risk factors, the researchers did not find any increased risk of autism, ADHD or reduced fetal growth among exposed offspring. The risk for premature birth was about 1.3 times higher for exposed offspring compared to unexposed offspring.

Read the full commentary here

The original research abstract is available here

Frequent interactions with grandparents lowers the age of autism diagnosis

Children who have older siblings or frequent interaction with grandparents are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) earlier than those who do not, according to new research | ScienceDaily

grandparents-1969824_960_720.jpg

Study results show that approximately 50 percent of friends and family members reported that they had suspected a child to have a serious condition before they were aware that either parent was concerned. Maternal grandmothers and teachers were the two most common relationship categories to first raise concerns

While interactions with grandparents and friends played an important role, family structure also impacted the age of diagnosis. Children with no siblings were diagnosed 6 to 8 months earlier than children with siblings. Among children with siblings, children with older siblings were diagnosed approximately 10 months earlier than those without older siblings, suggesting that older siblings may serve as a reference point, helping parents calibrate whether younger siblings are on target developmentally.

Read the commentary here

Read the original research article here

Improving Early Identification and Intervention for Children at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Rotholz, D. et al. (2017) Pediatrics. 139(2)

browse-42931_960_720

Objectives: To provide an example of a successful, novel statewide effort to increase early identification of young children at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using a 2-tiered screening process with enhanced quality assessment, interagency policy collaboration and coordination.

Conclusions: Improvements in early identification and intervention are feasible through collaborative policy change. The South Carolina Act Early Team and its key stakeholders committed to improving outcomes for this population used existing tools and methods in new ways to improve early identification of children with ASD and to make available evidence-based intervention services. This example should be replicable in other states with key stakeholders working collaboratively for the benefit of young children with

Read the full abstract here

Trait Mindfulness Attenuates the Adverse Psychological Impact of Stigma on Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chan, K.K.S. & Lam, C.B. Mindfulness (2017). doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0675-9

hands-1246170_960_720.jpg

Stigma attached to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is prevalent, but few studies have examined its psychological impact on parents of children with ASD and the potential protective factors in this family context. The present study aimed to test the associations of public stigma and courtesy stigma with depression, anxiety, and caregiving burden among parents of children with ASD and to explore whether trait mindfulness would moderate these associations.

Cross-sectional questionnaire data were collected from 424 parents of children with ASD residing in Hong Kong, China. Hierarchical regressions revealed significant interactions between public stigma and trait mindfulness and between courtesy stigma and trait mindfulness in predicting depression, anxiety, and caregiving burden.

Our findings contributed to the theoretical literature by highlighting the adverse impact of both public stigma and courtesy stigma on the mental health and caregiving experience of parents of children with ASD, as well as the potential protective effects of trait mindfulness in such processes. Our findings also had important practical implications for the design of effective interventions for this stigmatized group of families.

Read the abstract here

Association between breastfeeding duration and cognitive development, autistic traits and ADHD symptoms

Boucher, O. et al. Pediatric Research. Published online: 4 January 2017

breast-feeding-1831508_960_720.png

Background: Several studies have related longer breastfeeding duration to better intellectual performance in children. By contrast, few studies have investigated the potential protective effects of breastfeeding against behavioral problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, and even fewer on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) traits.

Conclusion: This study provides further evidence of a positive association of breastfeeding with cognitive function apart from socio-environmental factors, and also suggests a protective role against autistic traits. Results are in agreement with recommendations for prolonged breastfeeding duration to promote child development.

Read the full abstract here

Automated assessment of early autism

ScienceDaily | Published online: 3 November 2016

anatomy-1751201_960_720Autism Spectrum Disorder is usually diagnosed in early childhood, but genetic detection of this brain disorder could mean more timely interventions that improve life for the patient and their carers. Research suggests that machine learning might be used to analyze genetic data that points to an ASD diagnosis before symptoms become obvious.

Read the full overview here

Read the original research abstract here

Severe Childhood Autism: The Family Lived Experience

Gorlin, J.B. et al. Journal of Pediatric Nursing. Published online: October 6 2016

Highlights

  • Several themes were identified in families caring for a child with severe autism including: the families experienced autism as a mysterious and complex condition, they lived with severe autism-related behavior, and dealt with profound communication challenges, stress, and isolation.
  • Families reported developing compassion for others related to their experience of living with a child with severe autism.
  • Families formed ‘hybrid families’ to assist with raising the child with autism including nuclear and extended family members, and friends.

 

 


Abstract

This research examined the experiences of families living with a child with severe autism. There is limited literature on the experiences of families when a child has severe autism as distinct from milder autism and includes the voices of multiple family members.

Van Manen’s phenomenological approach was used for data collection and analysis. This approach allowed for the use of innovative data sources, including unstructured individual and family interviews, observations, and family lifelines (a pictorial, temporal picture with comments of the families lives).This study included 29 interviews with 22 participants from 11 families. All data were creatively triangulated and interpreted.

Six essential themes were identified. First, families experienced autism as mysterious and complex because it is an invisible and unpredictable condition with diagnostic challenges. Second, families described severe autism behaviors that often caused self-injury, harm to others and damaged homes. Third, profound communication deficits resulted in isolation between the family and child. Fourth, families discussed the unrelenting stress from lack of sleep, managing the child’s developmental delays, coordinating and financing services, and concern for the child’s future. Fifth, families described consequences of isolation from friends, school, the public, and health providers. Sixth, families portrayed their need for compassionate support and formed ‘hybrid families’ (nuclear, extended families and friends) to gain support.

Study results can be utilized to educate nurses/other providers about the unique needs of families with children with severe autism and could influence health care policies to improve the care for families caring for children with severe autism.

Read the abstract here