Macrocephaly in children with autism spectrum disorders.
ABSTRACT Research indicates the presence of macrocephaly or abnormally large head circumferences in children with autism and spectrum-related disorders, compared with their typically developing peers. Previous research, however, centered on non-nationally representative, clinic-based samples of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Moreover, these samples were typically small. The present study represents results of a nationally representative, community-based sample of children with and without autism spectrum disorders, derived from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort. Results reveal statistically nonsignificant differences in the head circumferences of children with autism spectrum disorders across three time points, compared with children without autism spectrum disorders. These results may be considered highly generalizable, because they are derived from a nationally representative, community-based sample of children with and without autism spectrum disorders from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort.
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ABSTRACT: Comorbidity of Autism Spectrum Disorders with seizures or abnormal EEG (Autism-Epilepsy Phenotype) suggests shared pathomechanisms, and might be a starting point to identify distinct populations within the clinical complexity of the autistic spectrum. In this study, we tried to assess whether distinct subgroups, having distinctive clinical hallmarks, emerge from this comorbid condition. Two-hundred and six individuals with idiopathic Autism Spectrum Disorders were subgrouped into three experimental classes depending on the presence of seizures and EEG abnormalities. Neurobehavioral, electroclinical and auxological parameters were investigated to identify differences among groups and features which increase the risk of seizures. Our statistical analyses used ANOVA, post-hoc multiple comparisons, and the Chi-squared test to analyze continuous and categorical variables. A correspondence analysis was also used to decompose significant Chi-squared and reduce variables dimensions. The high percentage of children with seizures (28.2% of our whole cohort) and EEG abnormalities (64.1%) confirmed that the prevalence of epilepsy in Autism Spectrum Disorders exceeds that of the general population. Seizures were associated with severe intellectual disability, and not with autism severity. Interestingly, tall stature (without macrocephaly) was significantly associated with EEG abnormalities or later onset seizures. However, isolated macrocephaly was equally distributed among groups or associated with early onset seizures when accompanied by tall stature. Tall stature seems to be a phenotypic "biomarker" of susceptibility to EEG abnormalities or late epilepsy in Autism Spectrum Disorders and, when concurring with macrocephaly, predisposes to early onset seizures. Growth pattern might act as an endophenotypic marker in Autism-Epilepsy comorbidity, delineating distinct pathophysiological subtypes and addressing personalized diagnostic work-up and therapeutic approaches.PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(9):e75015. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: To determine the genetic relationship between head circumference (HC) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Twin pairs with at least one twin with an ASD were assessed. HCs in affected and unaffected individuals were compared, as were HC correlations in monozygotic and dizygotic pairs. 404 subjects, ages 4-18, were included. 20 % of males and 27 % of females with an ASD had macrocephaly. Unaffected co-twins showed similar rates (16 % of males and 22 % of females). Statistical analysis revealed no significant difference in HCs between affected and unaffected twins. Twins with ASDs and unaffected co-twins have similar HCs and increased rates of macrocephaly. Correlations demonstrated partial inheritance of HCs. Thus, macrocephaly may represent an endophenotype in ASDs.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 01/2013; · 3.06 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Early brain overgrowth (EBO) in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is among the best replicated biological associations in psychiatry. Most positive reports have compared head circumference (HC) in ASD (an excellent proxy for early brain size) with well-known reference norms. We sought to reappraise evidence for the EBO hypothesis given 1) the recent proliferation of longitudinal HC studies in ASD, and 2) emerging reports that several of the reference norms used to define EBO in ASD may be biased toward detecting HC overgrowth in contemporary samples of healthy children. METHODS: Systematic review of all published HC studies in children with ASD. Comparison of 330 longitudinally gathered HC measures between birth and 18 months from male children with autism (n = 35) and typically developing control subjects (n = 22). RESULTS: In systematic review, comparisons with locally recruited control subjects were significantly less likely to identify EBO in ASD than norm-based studies (p < .001). Through systematic review and analysis of new data, we replicate seminal reports of EBO in ASD relative to classical HC norms but show that this overgrowth relative to norms is mimicked by patterns of HC growth age in a large contemporary community-based sample of US children (n ~ 75,000). Controlling for known HC norm biases leaves inconsistent support for a subtle, later emerging and subgroup specific pattern of EBO in clinically ascertained ASD versus community control subjects. CONCLUSIONS: The best-replicated aspects of EBO reflect generalizable HC norm biases rather than disease-specific biomarkers. The potential HC norm biases we detail are not specific to ASD research but apply throughout clinical and academic medicine.Biological psychiatry 05/2013; · 8.93 Impact Factor