Written by Maureen Bennie
Principal investigator Johanna Montgomery, from Auckland University’s Centre for Brain Research in New Zealand, has discovered a genetic mutation in people with autism that cuts communication between brain cells to about one-tenth of normal levels. The study found that a protein which helps brain cells transfer data through neurological pathways called synapses was mutated in autism sufferers. This could be a reason for their cognitive and behavioural difficulties. Published in the October Edition of Journal of Neuroscience, Johanna Montgomery said the mutated protein called Shank3 provided exciting possibilities in the search for autism treatments. Even with this new discovery, treatment is still years away.
A new study released in the journal Child Development found that babies with autism don’t show outward signs of the neurological disorder in the first six months of life, but after that time develop differently than other children. “These findings indicate that not all children with ASD may be detected at the same age,” wrote the researchers, from Kennedy Krieger, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School. Because of this, the researchers suggest physicians administer general developmental screening by age 1, followed by autism screening at 14 months and at regular intervals through the preschool years. READ MORE >