This week the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee or IACC, finalized next year’s strategic plan on autism research. This podcast explains what the IACC does, who serves on it, and also, what ideas they have for maximizing use of the research dollar for ASD. It’s a long document and every taxpayer in the US does contribute money towards autism research, so it’s worthwhile to hear what the US government, researchers, stakeholders, service providers and individuals with autism thinks should happen to that money. If you want to read the whole, thing, go for it. You can download it here.
This week a bunch of new studies came out that focused on changes in probability of having a child with autism after folic acid consumption during pregnancy. Moderate consumption folic acid and slightly elevated levels of plasma folate during pregnancy has now been shown in at least half a dozen scientific studies to reduce the chance of that child to be later diagnosed with autism. This is not a prevention effect, but a reduction in probability. There are enough studies on this question for a Chinese group to have organized them, put their data together, reanalyze them together and conclude that this is a real thing. If this was an effect seen after say, drinking battery acid, maybe it might require more consideration to recommend to the community. However, taking folic acid during pregnancy is something medical doctors are recommending pregnant women do anyway.
Want to learn more? Here are the studies:
Swedish Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28978695
Denmark Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28946926
About two weeks ago, the National Institute of Health announced part of the government’s commitment to autism research through the ACE projects, or Autism Centers for Excellence. Highly competitive and intensely scrutinized, these 5 year projects all investigates areas of autism aimed at helping people with ASD and their families. This week’s podcast summaries them, discusses how they interact and complement each other, and explains how they are going to affect the lives of people with autism.
This week’s podcast summarizes recent evidence on why there is good and bad in treating autism with medication, but there is also lots of ugly. While new medications are being developed and researchers are looking into new ways of measuring change across time time, medications are not effective in treating the core symptoms of autism and they have pretty harsh side effects which, you guessed it, are dealt with by prescribing more medications. There are a lot of reasons to be hopeful about the future of medication use in autism, but lots of reasons to feel frustrated too.
Here are some of the articles that were cited: