“Scary studies linking antidepressant use during pregnancy with an increased autism risk in babies may have scared some pregnant women off of the medications, but a new Massachusetts General Hospital study provides some comforting news. The heightened autism risk associated with antidepressant use is likely due to the severity of the depression itself, rather than the medications. Women with a major depressive disorder need to be reassured that continuing these drugs during pregnancy won’t expose their fetus to an increased risk of autism,” said study co-author Dr. Roy Perlis, director of the center for experimental drugs and diagnostics at Massachusetts General Hospital. But the study did find an alarming 80 percent increased risk in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that was associated with a child’s exposure to antidepressants in the womb. Perlis emphasized that this was a “preliminary finding” that needed to be replicated in future studies…”
"The same gene family that may have helped the human brain become larger and more complex than in any other animal also is linked to the severity of autism, according to new research from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
The gene family is made up of over 270 copies of a segment of DNA called DUF1220. DUF1220 codes for a protein domain – a specific functionally important segment within a protein. The more copies of a specific DUF1220 subtype a person with autism has, the more severe the symptoms, according to a paper published in the PLoS Genetics…”
Today is World Autism Awareness Day. The seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated on April 2, 2014.