Tuesday July 17, 2018

New Study: Large age gap between parents increases autism risk in kids

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New York: Children born to teenage mothers and whose parents have a large gap between their ages, are at an increased risk of developing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), says a large study involving 5.7 million children in five countries.

The study also confirmed that older parents are at higher risk of having children with ASD, which is characterised by social avoidance, repetitive behaviours and difficulty in communicating.

“When we first reported that the older age of fathers increases risk for autism, we suggested that mutations might be the cause. Genetic research later showed that this hypothesis was correct,” said study co-author, Abraham Reichenberg, neuropsychologist and epidemiologist with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City.

“In this study, we show for the first time that autism risk is associated with disparately-aged parents. Future research should look into this to understand the mechanisms,” Reichenberg noted.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, looked at autism rates among 5,766,794 children — including more than 30,000 with autism — in Denmark, Israel, Norway, Sweden and Western Australia.

The children were born between 1985 and 2004, and the researchers followed up on their development until 2009, checking national health records for autism diagnoses.

Autism rates were 66 percent higher among children born to fathers over 50 years of age, than among those born to fathers in their 20s. Autism rates were 28 percent higher when fathers were in their 40s versus 20s.

Autism rates were 15 percent higher in children born to mothers in their 40s, compared to those born to mothers in their 20s.

Autism rates were 18 percent higher among children born to teenage mothers than among those born to mothers in their 20s.

Autism rates rose still higher when both parents were older, in line with what one would expect if each parent’s age contributed to risk.

Autism rates also rose with widening gaps between two parents’ ages. These rates were highest when fathers were between 35 and 44 and their partners were 10 or more years younger.

“These results suggest that multiple mechanisms are contributing to the association between parental age and ASD risk,” the authors concluded. (IANS)

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Mysterious Health Incidents Affect 1 More American in Cuba

In all, 25 Americans have been affected by the mystery ailment in Cuba

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A view of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba on Sept.18, 2017.
A view of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba on Sept.18, 2017. VOA

One more U.S. Embassy employee in Havana, Cuba, has been affected by mysterious health incidents, the State Department said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said one of two Americans recently evacuated from Cuba was “medically confirmed” to have been affected, while the other was “still being evaluated” by doctors.

25 Americans affected

In all, 25 Americans have been affected by the mystery ailment in Cuba.

“We still don’t know, to this day, what is causing it and who is responsible,” Nauert said, noting that investigations were underway in Havana as well as Guangzhou, China, where one employee experienced similar symptoms recently.

The United States has said that the Cuba incidents started in late 2016. The State Department calls them “specific attacks” but has not said what caused them or who was behind them. Cuba has adamantly denied involvement or knowledge.

Initial speculation centered on some type of sonic attack owing to strange sounds heard by those affected, but an interim FBI report in January found no evidence that sound waves could have caused the damage, The Associated Press has reported.

Secretary Kerry Touts Virtues of 10-Year U.S.-China Business and Tourism Visas Before Presenting First Documents in Beijing
Secretary Kerry Touts Virtues of 10-Year U.S.-China Business and Tourism Visas Before Presenting First Documents in Beijing, flickr

Warning issued in China

The State Department issued a health warning after the employee in China reported experiencing “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure” and was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described it as a “serious medical incident.”

Also read: Cuba Invites United Nations human rights Investigator for first time in decade regarding Human Trafficking

The new confirmation came less than a week after the U.S. renewed demands on Cuba to determine the source of the “attacks” on U.S. diplomats. Cuba responded by again denying any involvement in or knowledge of any such attacks. (VOA)