November, 2013

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Eye Fixation is Lost, Not Absent, in ASD

By Shana R. Spindler, Ph.D. on November 15, 2013
early eye contact


News Brief: A new article in the high impact journal Nature has received a lot of coverage in the media recently, for good reason. United States researchers revealed that poor eye contact observed in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) results from a gradual decline in eye fixation in two to six-month-old infants. Their findings suggest a potential window for early intervention in ASD before this social behavior is lost. It remains unclear, however, if addressing eye fixation deficits will improve other ASD-related behaviors.

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UK Autism Rates Stabilize from 2004 to 2010

By Shana R. Spindler, Ph.D. on November 5, 2013
New rates


Background: In several countries around the world, autism rates rose dramatically in the 1990s. In March 2012, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released results from a long-term study indicating that U.S. autism rates continued to rise—by about 78 percent—between the years 2004 and 2008. This publication prompted U.S. and United Kingdom researchers to explore autism rates in the U.K. for the same time period.
What’s new: On October 16, 2013, the online journal BMJ Open published a population-based study that looked at autism rates in the U.K. from 2004 to 2010 in 8-year-old children. Using the U.K. General Practice Research Database (GPRD), researchers found that autism prevalence remained stable during those years, even after the dramatic increase during the 1990s. Newly diagnosed cases also reached a plateau, with an average of 1.2 per 1000 boys and .23 per 1000 girls diagnosed per year across the seven years examined.


Why it’s important: While U.S. rates have continued to climb over the past decade, U.K. rates have appeared to stabilize. Compared to the CDC’s estimate of one in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls with autism in the U.S., the current study suggests a lower prevalence in the U.K. at 3.8 in 1000 boys and .8 in 1000 girls. It’s important to note that differences in diagnostic criteria and study methodology may contribute to these discrepancies.

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