Topiramate during pregnancy; vascular dysfunction; PTCHD1 gene

Here is a roundup of autism-related news and research spotted around the web for the week of 25 March.

  • Taking the anti-seizure medication valproate, but not topiramate or lamotrigine, during pregnancy increases the likelihood of having a child with autism. New England Journal of Medicine
  • Poor executive function in 3-year-old children with neurodevelopmental conditions seems to predict externalizing behaviors at age 5. Autism Research
  • Vascular dysfunction can affect brain maturation and energy metabolism; in mouse models of autism, it appears to cause autism-like behaviors, according to a review. Neuroscience Insights
  • Type 1 interferon interacts with microglia during development, and a deficiency of the cytokine in mice leads to an imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory pathways and tactile hypersensitivity. Cell
  • Focused interests do not necessarily interfere with learning unrelated vocabulary, according to a study in autistic preschoolers. Autism Research
  • Mice missing the SCN2A gene, a model of autism, have fewer neuronal synapses than wildtype mice, a result of overactive microglial pruning during development. Spectrum reported on this research when the preprint came out last year. Molecular Psychiatry
Research image of microglia in mice.
A moveable feast: Microglia in SCN2A-deficient mice produce more digestive-enzyme-packed lysosomes, shown in blue, than in mice without an SCN2A mutation.
Courtesy Yang Yang / Purdue University
  • A group of bioethicists offers up recommendations for how medical schools can avoid ableism in teaching the next generation of physicians. The Hastings Center
  • In mice missing the PTCHD1 gene—a model of autism—sounds can prompt facial, ear and eye movements that appear to be an effective measure of sensory sensitivity. Current Biology
  • The scientific journal eLife is collecting first-person narratives of autistic researchers in academia. eLife

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