Mutations tied to autism may alter gut function, microbiome in mice – Spectrum

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Mutations in the gene NLGN3, found in some people with autism, alter mice’s gut nervous system, two new studies suggest. One of these mutations also affects the population of microbes that live inside their gut. The results may help explain why gastrointestinal problems often accompany autism, says lead researcher Elisa Hill-Yardin.

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Parents beat clinicians at detecting autism signs in infants – Spectrum

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Parents who have one child with an autism diagnosis can more accurately spot signs of the condition in their younger child at 12 months of age than clinicians can, according to a new study1. The advantage fades by 18 months of age, however.

The findings suggest that surveying knowledgeable parents could move up the date of autism diagnosis, enabling therapy to begin sooner.

Read the full story in Spectrum News

New method taps family trees for clues about conditions – Spectrum

Genetic puzzle: A new approach for finding risk variants considers data from multiple generations of a family. Hero Images/Getty Images

Asking participants in genetic databases about their family’s medical history can help researchers uncover genetic variants tied to uncommon conditions. Because people share 50 percent of their DNA with each of their parents, siblings and children, the DNA of the participants holds clues to the conditions of these relatives.

Read the full story in Spectrum.

From autism to Chinese, a headset to help you with your language – New Scientist

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Learning a tonal language like Chinese is notoriously difficult–it’s easy to end up calling your mother a horse. But soon there could be a wearable headset that can help. The system was created for people with autism who want help with social interactions, but it could be adapted to help with speech or anxiety problems–or even language learning, says LouAnne Boyd at the University of California at Irvine, part of the team that designed it.