Foster care disparities; MEF2C gene; hearing changes in Rett syndrome

Here is a roundup of autism-related news and research spotted around the web for the week of 4 March.

  • Girls and black children with autism or intellectual disability are more likely to enter the U.S. foster care system than are boys or white children with either condition. JAMA Pediatrics
  • Autism-linked variants of the MEF2C gene result in sex-based differences in GABAergic neurons and networks in mice, affecting females more than males. Biological Psychiatry Global Open Science
  • Jaguar Gene Therapy has announced the launch of clinical trials for its SHANK3 gene therapy after receiving the go-ahead from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Precision Medicine Online
  • Mice with mutations in the NACC1 gene show physiologic, behavioral and electroencephalographic differences that simulate the severe neurodevelopmental delay observed in people who have the same variant. Journal of Neuroscience
  • Toddlers who have an older sibling with autism and are later diagnosed themselves display more negative emotions than their non-autistic peers, according to a small study. Autism
  • Maternal immune activation spurs long-lasting transcriptional changes in fetal microglia, according to a preprint. bioRxiv
Research image of clusters of cortical microglia based on RNA transcripts during mouse embryonic development.
Cell diversity: Researchers described 11 clusters of cortical microglia based on RNA transcripts during mouse embryonic development.
  • Facilitated-communication strategies for minimally verbal autistic people are biased in ways that may be harmful, because facilitators often override the voice of the autistic person. Spectrum has previously covered the controversy involving facilitated communication, a technique the research community has largely discredited. Current Developmental Disorders Reports
  • Based on a cognitive assessment only, about 63 percent of autistic children are considered to have intellectual disability; adding an adaptive behavior assessment lowers the proportion to about 40 percent, and minimizes racial and ethnic disparities. Autism Research
  • Girls with Rett syndrome have hearing deficits — as assessed by electrophysiological responses to sounds — that may contribute to their speech challenges. Rett Syndrome News
  • A 2022 paper about pollutants and autism has been retracted because of irregularities in some of the Western blot images. Environmental Science and Pollution Research
  • A research program on siblings of autistic children has been expanded from two to four sites in the United States and Canada. Autism Science Foundation

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