Spotted around the web: Mapping histones; COVID-19 births; acetaminophen lawsuits

Here is a roundup of news and research for the week of 31 October.

Research roundup  

  • Gender-diverse autistic people seeking mental health care may need additional support to access gender-affirming care, according to a small case series. Archives of Sexual Behavior 
  • Young autistic children who spend time being physically active each day appear to have fewer emotional issues than their more sedentary peers. Frontiers in Public Health 
  • Autism prevalence in 8-year-olds in the United States is similar across ethnic and racial groups, according to 2018 data. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  
  • Researchers describe their method of spatially mapping epigenomic tags within a single cell. Cell 
  • Babies born to people who contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy are no more likely to have a neurodevelopmental condition than babies born before the pandemic, according to a new meta-analysis. A commentary on the study warns that not enough time has passed to assess autism outcomes; Spectrum wrote about this question in March. JAMA Network Open 
  • British newspapers tend to use negative language when covering autism and mostly focus on boys, according to an analysis of 10 publications over a decade. Autism 
  • Loss of PTEN, a gene linked to autism, increases neuronal growth and the function of excitatory synapses by way of a pathway that involves the signaling protein mTORC1. Cell Reports 
  • Predictable versus unpredictable eye contact elicit different neural responses in autistic adults, suggesting that anticipation and expectations, rather than gaze itself, pose challenges during social interactions. Molecular Autism 
  • “Children with early-onset psychosis deserve genetic screening just as much as those with suspected [autism],” given the genetic overlap between autism and schizophrenia, researchers argue. American Journal of Psychiatry

    An illustration of a white circle containing multi colored dots.
    Zoom in: A new method locates histone modifications in a single cell.
  • Autistic adults with intellectual disability reported an increase in problems related to well-being and autism traits during the months of strict COVID-19 lockdown, and they described motor deficits that lingered beyond that period. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 
  • Boys with fragile X syndrome avoid eye contact more than autistic boys do, and the behavior is more amenable to behavioral intervention. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 
  • Autistic people tend to deliberate, rather than intuit, when asked a question, though they can use intuition when asked to reply quickly. Autism 
  • Long-read sequencing and validation — as opposed to short-read data — reveals 33 percent more de novo variation, including in repetitive sequences, in which the mutation rate could be more than 40 percent higher than genome-wide, according to an unpublished study. ASHG Meeting 2022
  • Researchers are exploring how neurodevelopmental conditions could be added to the existing newborn screening program in the United States. ASHG Meeting 2022
  • Researchers connected mutations in one set of autism genes to cognitive impairment and in another set to mood disorders, according to an unpublished study. ASHG Meeting 2022
  • Genome sequences from fetal brains reveal 335 credible sets of single nucleotide polymorphisms that affect the expression of 297 nearby genes in a sex-specific manner, providing a potential mechanism for the sex-biased prevalence of some neurodevelopmental conditions. ASHG Meeting 2022

Science and society 

  • Dozens of lawsuits against acetaminophen retailers, such as CVS and Rite Aid, alleging that Tylenol during pregnancy contributed to children having autism, have been compiled into one mass tort litigation. Spectrum has previously covered inconclusive studies investigating the link. 
  • Health-care workers in England are now required to be trained in awareness, care and support for people with autism and learning disabilities. The Guardian 
  • The Chan Zuckerberg Science Initiative has announced its first cohort of Science Diversity Leadership grantees: 25 biomedical researchers who have a record of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in their fields; the title comes with $1.5 million dollars over five years. Forbes