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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Why Parenting Styles Matter When Raising Children

From VeryWellMind

By Kendra Cherry
Reviewed by Steven Gans, MD

February 27, 2018



Developmental psychologists have long been interested in how parents affect child development. However, finding actual cause-and-effect links between specific actions of parents and later behavior of children is very difficult.

Some children raised in dramatically different environments can later grow up to have remarkably similar personalities. Conversely, children who share a home and are raised in the same environment can grow up to have very different personalities.

Despite these challenges, researchers have posited that there are links between parenting styles and the effects these styles have on children. These effects, some suggest, carry over into adult behavior.

What Research Says


During the early 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study on more than 100 preschool-age children. Using naturalistic observation, parental interviews, and other research methods, she identified some important dimensions of parenting.

These dimensions include disciplinary strategies, warmth and nurturing, communication styles, and expectations of maturity and control.

Based on these dimensions, Baumrind suggested that the majority of parents display one of three different parenting styles. Further research by Maccoby and Martin also suggested adding a fourth parenting style to these original three.

Let's take a closer look at each of these four parenting styles and the impact they can have on a child's behavior.

Authoritarian Parenting

One of the three major styles identified by Baumrind was the authoritarian style. In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents. Failure to follow such rules usually results in punishment. Authoritarian parents don't explain the reasoning behind these rules. If asked to explain, the parent might simply reply, "Because I said so."

While these parents have high demands, they are not very responsive to their children. They expect their children to behave exceptionally and not make errors, yet they provide very little direction about what their children should do or avoid in the future. Mistakes are punished, often quite harshly, yet their children are often left wondering exactly what they did wrong.

According to Baumrind, these parents "are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation."

Parents who exhibit this style are often described as domineering and dictatorial. Their approach to parenting is one of "spare the rod, spoil the child." Despite having such strict rules and high expectations, they do little to explain the reasoning behind their demands and simply expect children to obey without question.

Authoritative Parenting

A second major style identified by Baumrind was the authoritative style. Like authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow. However, this parenting style is much more democratic.

Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. These parents expect a lot of their children, but they provide warmth, feedback, and adequate support.

When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing.

Baumrind suggested that these parents "monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative."

It is this combination of expectation and support that helps children of authoritative parents develop skills such as independence, self-control, and self-regulation.

Permissive Parenting

The final style identified by Baumrind was what is known as the permissive style of parenting. Permissive parents sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, have very few demands to make of their children. These parents rarely discipline their children because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control.​

According to Baumrind, permissive parents "are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation."

Permissive parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent.

Uninvolved Parenting

In addition to the three major styles introduced by Baumrind, psychologist Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin proposed a fourth style that is known as uninvolved or neglectful parenting. An uninvolved parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness, and very little communication.

While these parents fulfill the child's basic needs, they are generally detached from their child's life. They might make sure that their kids are fed and have shelter, but offer little to nothing in the way of guidance, structure, rules, or even support. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect the needs of their children.

The Impact of Parenting Styles


What effect do these parenting styles have on child development outcomes? In addition to Baumrind's initial study of 100 preschool children, researchers have conducted other studies that have led to a number of conclusions about the impact of parenting styles on children.

Among the findings of these studies:
  • Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence, and self-esteem.
  • Authoritative parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable, and successful.
  • Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
  • Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem, and are less competent than their peers.

Why is it that authoritative parenting provides such advantages over other styles?

Because authoritative parents are more likely to be viewed as reasonable, fair, and just so their children are more likely to comply with the requests that these parents make. Also, because these parents provide rules as well as explanations for these rules, children are much more likely to internalize these lessons.

Rather than simply following the rules because they fear punishment (as they might with authoritarian parents), the children of authoritative parents are able to see why the rules exist, understand that they are fair and acceptable, and strive to follow these rules to meet their own internalized sense of what is right and wrong.

Of course, the parenting styles of individual parents also combine to create a unique blend in each family. For example, the mother may display an authoritative style while the father favors a more permissive approach.

This can sometimes lead to mixed signals or even situations where a child seeks approval from the more permissive parent to get what they want. In order to create a cohesive approach to parenting, it is essential that parents learn to cooperate as they combine various elements of their unique parenting styles.

Limitations and Criticisms of Parenting Style Research

There are, however, some important limitations of parenting style research that should be noted. Links between parenting styles and behavior are based on correlational research, which is helpful for finding relationships between variables but cannot establish definitive cause-and-effect relationships.

While there is evidence that a particular parenting style is linked to a certain pattern of behavior, other important variables such as a child's temperament can also play a major role.

There is also some evidence that a child's behavior can impact parenting styles. One study found that the parents of children who exhibited difficult behavior began to exhibit less parental control over time.

Such results suggest that kids might not misbehave because their parents were too permissive, but that, at least in some cases, the parents of difficult or aggressive children might be more likely to simply give up on trying to control their kids.

Researchers have also noted that the correlations between parenting styles and behaviors are sometimes weak at best. In many cases, the expected child outcomes do not materialize; parents with authoritative styles will have children who are defiant or who engage in delinquent behavior, while parents with permissive styles will have children who are self-confident and academically successful.

These four parenting styles might also not be necessarily universal. Cultural factors also play an important role in parenting styles and child outcomes.

"There is no universally "best" style of parenting," writes Douglas Bernstein in his book Essentials of Psychology. "So authoritative parenting, so consistently linked with positive outcomes in European American families, is not related to better school performance among African American or Asian American youngsters."

The Bottom Line

So what's the takeaway when it comes to parenting styles?

Parenting styles are associated with different child outcomes and the authoritative style is generally linked to positive behaviors such as strong self-esteem and self-competence. However, other important factors including culture, children's perceptions of parental treatment, and social influences also play an important role in children's behavior.

Sources
  1. Baumrind, D. Child-care practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behavior. Genetic Psychology Monographs. 1967; 75: 43-88.
  2. Benson, JB, Marshall, MH. Social and Emotional Development in Infancy and Early Childhood. Oxford: Academic Press; 2009.
  3. Huh, D, Tristan, J, Wade, E & Stice, E Does Problem Behavior Elicit Poor Parenting?: A Prospective Study of Adolescent Girls. Journal of Adolescent Research. 2006; 21(2): 185-204.
  4. Macklem, GL. Practitioner's Guide to Emotion Regulation in School-Aged Children. New York: Springer; 2008.

Brain Development Influenced by the Immune System

From UQ News
The University of Queensland

April 16, 2018

University of Queensland researchers have highlighted a link between fetal brain development and the origins of developmental diseases such as schizophrenia.

UQ Faculty of Medicine’s Dr. Liam Coulthard said many adult diseases originated during fetal development.

“Complement factors – part of the immune system that kills bacteria and helps white blood cells treat infection – also shape the development of neural networks and normal brain development,” Dr. Coulthard said.

“Complement factors are linked to schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder and non-hereditary epilepsy in genetic studies.

“Our findings mean we should be very careful when targeting the complement system to dampen inflammation during pregnancy, as there might be associated risk from treating pregnant women for inflammation.

“Either through infection or medication, complement factor activity has the potential to throw off that balance and therefore have consequences in adulthood.

The findings also highlight new and unexpected potential causes for developmental brain diseases as well as risk factors for mental illness.

“Local disruption of brain development by complement factors can also result in abnormal networks, neural positions or what type of neuron the stem cell becomes,” Dr Coulthard said.

The review is published in Trends in Neuroscience.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Can Spending Time in Nature Improve Executive Functioning?

From Beyond BookSmart's
Executive Function Strategies Blog

By Michael Keesler,, J.D., Ph.D.
AprIL 23, 2018


With spring’s arrival, parents and children are shaking off winter’s cabin fever and returning outdoors. On the one hand, it is no great insight to observe that we enjoy spending time outdoors in nice weather. But there may be more to this phenomenon than we all know intuitively.

Indeed, a growing body of research now supports what many of us in the mental health community have long suspected. This is simply that our mental and physical well-being actually relies upon interaction in and with nature.

This should not come as a big surprise, especially if we consider humans in terms of evolutionary history. Modern-day humans have existed for tens of thousands of years. Against that backdrop, the comforts of modern living are a new development on the timeline of human evolution.

For the vast majority of our history, we were shaped by natural selection to exist in an environment that was outdoors, with unpredictable weather and varied temperatures, and organized by predator/prey relationships.

If you stop and think about it, modern living actually does much to insulate us from the effects of nature. Many of us sleep on large, soft, even rectangles of varying materials in climate-controlled rooms; we dress and bathe in air and water that is warmed to a pleasant temperature; we travel to school and work in climate-controlled vehicles with shock absorbers; we spend the day in climate-controlled rooms, bathed in even and unchanging lighting; we return home and spend the evening in climate-controlled and well-lit spaces; and we return to sleep on our soft rectangles to repeat the process again.

If you think about it, this insulation from nature actually robs us and our children of opportunities to train executive function skills like impulse control (are these tasty-looking berries dangerous?); sustained attention (will I be ready when the fish takes the bait?); self-regulation and self-monitoring (will I be able to get back to safety by nightfall?); and complex problem-solving (how do I reach the high-hanging fruit?).

In an attempt to encapsulate the research literature, it is fair to say that urban living, modern technology, and separation from nature have been found to have negative effects on both mood and thinking skills.

Fortunately, though, time spent in nature can help decrease and even reverse these effects. For those who may be curious, this intervention actually celebrates a long history. In Japan, it is called Shinrin-yoku, which is translated as “forest bathing.”

In the West, the positive health effects of time spent at sanitoriums (remotely located hospitals for the chronically ill) are now thought to be attributed, at least in part, to the reconnection with nature.

Various studies have tried to quantify the extent to which time spent in nature can affect psychological and physiological health. Across those findings, it is fair to say that even 15 or 20 minutes per day in nature can have positive physical effects on things like blood pressure, pulse rate, nervous system activity, and cortisol (the “stress hormone”) levels.

Time spent in nature can also have positive cognitive effects on attention (see also “Attention Restoration Theory”), self-discipline, impulse control, short-term memory, working memory, and concentration.

Last, time with nature can help improve depression, anxiety, and the thought patterns that can characterize both.

So, with spring here, I encourage all readers to re-examine how they and their families can more consistently integrate nature into their lives. Walk in the park, the forest, along the beach, or by the river. If you have trouble walking, roll. If all else fails, have a seat in the grass (and leave the smartphone in your pocket).

Talk to your children’s school and the parent-teacher association about the importance of time spent in nature. When possible, try to do paperwork and homework outdoors, perhaps at a picnic table. Volunteer as a family with local nature and conservation organizations.

Explore commuting to work and school by walking or riding a bicycle. Go out in great weather, bad weather, and ho-hum weather. Watch the clouds go by. Stargaze. Your child’s Executive Function skills can likely benefit from spending more time in nature.

Resources

For details on the research supporting the above, I recommend Your Brain on Nature by Eva M. Selhub. An excellent free booklet from Children and Nature Network provides extensive information about how Executive Function skills in children can be developed through specific activities in nature.

For more information on incorporating nature into one’s day-to-day life, check out http://wildernessawareness.org for their free and for-pay resources to help individuals on their “nature connection journey.”

For readers in the United States, find your nearest national park at http://www.nps.org and view other outdoor activities at http://recreation.gov. Find hiking trails at http://www.hikingproject.com, http://www.alltrails.com, and http://www.trails.com.

About the Author


Dr. Keesler is a clinical and forensic neuropsychologist who practices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He commutes to work by bicycle - daily, year-round, rain or snow or shine - to the only mild consternation of family and co-workers.

His practice is predominantly neuropsychological assessment, diagnosing developmental disorders like learning disorders and ADHD, conditions like traumatic brain injury, idiopathic disease like stroke or brain tumor, and degenerative disorders like dementia and multiple sclerosis.

He believes strongly in the power of lifestyle change and adjunctive/alternative therapy as a first-line treatment for many common maladies of modern society.

Mother's Depression Might Do the Same to Child's IQ

From the University of California - San Diego 
via ScienceDaily

April 17, 2018

Study finds maternal depression negatively impacts a child's cognitive development, infancy through age 16.


Roughly one in 10 women in the United States will experience depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The consequences, however, may extend to their children, report researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, who found that a mother's depression can negatively affect a child's cognitive development up to the age of 16.

The findings are published in the April issue of Child Development.

Researchers surveyed approximately 900 healthy children and their mothers living in Santiago, Chile at five-year intervals from the child's infancy through age 16. They observed how affectionate and responsive mothers were to their children at each age period, as well as how much mothers provided age-appropriate learning materials.


Children were assessed on verbal cognitive abilities using standardized IQ tests during each assessment. Mothers were tested for symptoms of depression.

"We found that mothers who were highly depressed didn't invest emotionally or in providing learning materials to support their child, such as toys and books, as much as mothers who were not depressed. This, in turn, impacted the child's IQ at ages 1, 5, 10 and 16," said Patricia East, Ph.D., research scientist with the Dept. of Pediatrics at U.C. San Diego School of Medicine. "The consistency and longevity of these results speak to the enduring effect that depression has on a mother's parenting and her child's development."

On a scale from one to 19, the average verbal IQ score for all children in the study at age 5 was 7.64. Children who had severely depressed mothers were found to have an average verbal IQ score of 7.30 compared to a score of 7.78 in children without depressed mothers.

"Although seemingly small, differences in IQ from 7.78 to 7.30 are highly meaningful in terms of children's verbal skills and vocabulary," said East. "Our study results show the long term consequences that a child can experience due to chronic maternal depression."

Throughout the study period, at least half of the mothers were determined to be depressed based on a questionnaire with questions like, "Are you sad?" and "Do you find yourself crying?"

"For mothers in the study, there were many stressors in their lives. Most of the mothers, while literate, had only nine years of education, were not employed outside the home and often lived with extended family in small, crowded homes -- factors that likely contributed to their depression," said East.

"Many mothers suffer from depression in the first six months after childbirth, but for some, depression lingers."

East said study data suggested approximately 20 percent of mothers who are severely depressed when their child turns age 1 remain depressed for a long time.

"For health care providers, the results show that early identification, intervention and treatment of maternal depression are key," said East. "Providing resources to depressed moms will help them manage their symptoms in a productive way and ensure their children reach their full potential."

Study authors said future steps include further analyzing the data to see how mothers' depression affects children's own depressive symptoms through childhood and adolescence and children's academic achievement and health, such as their likelihood of being overweight or obese.

Co-authors of the study include: Victoria Wu, Erin Delker, Estela Blanca and Sheila Gahagan, M.D., with UC San Diego; Betsy Lozoff, M.D., University of Michigan.

The research was supported, in part, by the National Institutes of Health (R01-HD-033487, R01-HL-088530, R01-DA-021181 and TL1TR001443).

Journal Reference
  • Victoria Wu, Patricia East, Erin Delker, Estela Blanco, Gabriela Caballero, Jorge Delva, Betsy Lozoff, Sheila Gahagan. Associations Among Mothers’ Depression, Emotional and Learning-Material Support to Their Child, and Children's Cognitive Functioning: A 16-Year Longitudinal Study. Child Development, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13071

Monday, April 23, 2018

Supreme Court Ruling Alters IEP Landscape

From DisabilityScoop

By Courtney Perkes
April 19, 2018


As parents begin discussing individualized education programs for their children this spring, disability legal experts say a U.S. Supreme Court ruling will set the stage for stronger goals and higher expectations.

But even with the backing of the highest court in the land, parents should still educate themselves and come prepared for a successful meeting, attorneys said.

“Parents should not hesitate to go for a more robust, challenging IEP goal and objective,” said Gary Mayerson, a New York City civil rights attorney who specializes in representing people with autism. “They shouldn’t be intimidated by the school districts that have been used to repeating goals and objectives over and over again, year after year. That’s a classic no-no now.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous March 2017 decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District is holding school districts to a higher standard by requiring “appropriately ambitious” programs.

In December, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidelines on implementation of the ruling that are now being used as IEP season swings into full gear.

“While many states and school districts are already meeting the standard established in Endrew F., this is an opportunity to work together to ensure that we are holding all children with disabilities to high standards and providing access to challenging academic content and achievement standards,” the document says.

Selene Almazan, legal director for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates and a practicing special education attorney in Maryland, recommends that parents prepare by reviewing their child’s progress reports, test scores and homework.

For related services, such as occupational or speech therapy, parents should study handwriting or articulation for indicators of progress. If a child has behavioral issues, such as calling out in class, parents should know how often that happens and under what circumstances.

“When you get to the goals, what I always tell families is you need to see where the baseline is,” Almazan said. “You can’t measure where the kid is going to be at the end of a year if you don’t know where they start from.”

Assessments play an important role, though they will vary depending on the child’s disability.

“A savvy parent will do their due diligence and make sure they have good assessments and evaluations either by the school district if they’re acceptable and satisfactory or asking the school district to fund an independent evaluation,” Mayerson said.

“In general, parents who are armed with recent and comprehensive assessments will have a better shot at getting their children’s needs met than those who don’t come in prepared like that.”

Almazan said families may decide to bring in an advocate or an attorney if they feel they aren’t being heard, are seeking a different placement than the district recommends or are dealing with recurring disciplinary issues.

“Obviously now school systems have to have a cogent response for the reason they make decisions,” she said.

Mayerson said school district attorneys are advising educators of the greater accountability.

“I think the smart family today will say, ‘There’s no need to get into a big fight. We should want the same things and the Supreme Court told us what those standards are. Let’s just fulfill those standards,'” he said.

Michigan, Flint Schools to Pay for ‘Unprecedented’ Lead Screening Program for Children Affected by Water Crisis

From The 74 Million

By Carolyn Phenicie
April 9, 2018

All children impacted by the Flint water crisis will be eligible for universal screening for educational and health problems associated with lead exposure, attorneys announced Monday.

Placards posted above water fountains warn against drinking the water at
Flint Northwestern High School in Flint, Michigan, May 4, 2016.

“This is truly an historic partnership between the state, the county, Flint community schools, the Flint community itself, and the public health community. It is one that we believe is unprecedented and groundbreaking,” Greg Little, chief trial counsel at the Education Law Center, said on a call with reporters.

The Education Law Center and the ACLU of Michigan brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Flint children in 2016, alleging that the state of Michigan and Flint schools failed to appropriately identify children with special needs and provide them with appropriate services — a problem that is likely to worsen as additional children who may have been exposed to lead in the city’s water enroll in school.

The partial settlement came just days after Michigan state officials announced they would no longer provide free bottled water to Flint residents. Governor Rick Snyder in a statement that lead levels are below what the federal government considers dangerous, though many residents still don’t trust the water system, The Detroit News reported.

Impacted children will be eligible for screenings through the Flint Registry, a citywide public health tracking system for all Flint residents, adults and children, to identify potential health and education problems. The system goes online in September.

The settlement with the Michigan Department of Education, Flint Community Schools, and the Genesee Intermediate School District will allow all children, regardless of the results of an initial screening, to undergo additional neuropsychological exams, if requested by parents. Attorneys described the neuropsychological exams as the most advanced testing for the effects of lead exposure.

Results of the tests will be sent to schools as children are evaluated for special education services. The program will also fund training for teachers on identifying children potentially harmed by lead exposure.

Flint’s current lead exposure crisis dates to 2014, when state-appointed city managers switched to a less-expensive, contaminated water supply that wasn’t treated with the necessary chemicals to prevent lead from leaching from city pipes. Long-term effects of even minimal lead exposure on children can include learning disabilities, lowered IQ, and health problems.

Third-grade reading scores in Flint last year plummeted, though other factors besides lead exposure, including more rigorous standards, may have been among the causes.

Related

Monday’s agreement is the first step in settling the 2016 class-action lawsuit.

Other allegations in the lawsuit concerning the availability of necessary services for students with disabilities, and the inappropriate use of discipline with special needs students, are still pending. Attorneys hope this settlement will spur the state and districts to settle the remaining issues, Little said, but if not, attorneys will continue the lawsuit.

“We will be there for these kids going forward, as long as necessary, to provide them the services they need,” he said.

The state will have to provide an initial $4.1 million to set up the screening program, with further funding coming from Medicaid and other funding sources, attorneys said. The settlement acknowledges that the funds “may be subject to legislative approval” and that the agreement will be null and void if lawmakers don’t approve the funding.

As many as 25,000 to 30,000 children may be eligible for screening, Little said.

Though the Flint Community Schools only enroll about 4,500 children, the settlement will cover those attending charter schools, children who are too young to enroll in school, young adults up to age 26, and children who may have only been in Flint for a brief time — for example, those visiting family, attorneys explained.

Enrollment in the registry and participation in screenings is voluntary. The partial settlement agreement goes before a federal court for final approval on April 12.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Immune System and Gastrointestinal Deregulation Linked with Autism

From the U.C. Davis Health Newsroom

April 17, 2018

U.C. Davis MIND Institute research finds increased inflammation may be culprit.

Researchers at the U.C. Davis MIND Institute have found that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have reduced immune system regulation, as well as shifts in their gut microbiota. The immune deregulation appears to facilitate increased inflammation and may be linked to the gastrointestinal issues so often experienced by children with ASD.

The research was published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Paul Ashwood
“Some children with ASD have this decrease in regulatory cytokines, which leaves them more prone to inflammation,” said Destanie Rose, a graduate student in the laboratory of Paul Ashwood and first author on the paper.

“This increased inflammation may manifest as GI symptoms, allergies, asthma or some other form.”

While previous studies and clinical experience have shown that many children with ASD have gut issues, the causes have been mysterious.

To better illuminate the problem, Ashwood, senior author and professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and colleagues studied 103 children, between 3 and 12, separated into four groups: children with ASD with and without GI symptoms, and typically developing children with and without GI symptoms.

The researchers analyzed blood and stool samples to assess both the immune response and microbial makeup. The children with ASD and GI issues showed a number of distinctions. They had higher levels of inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-5, IL-15 and IL-17, compared to the children with ASD without GI symptoms.

The ASD/GI children also had lower levels of the protein TGFβ1, which is responsible for regulating the immune response. In addition, the group had higher levels of the protein zonulin, which regulates cell junctions in the GI tract, influencing gut permeability.

The study also found distinction in the microbiome between children with ASD and GI symptoms and typically developing children with GI problems. These findings illuminate the physiology and represent a first step toward delineating cause and effect.

“This work opens up interesting new avenues to determine how the microbiome may be driving the mucosal immune response in ASD or whether immune activation drives the microbiome changes” Ashwood said. “At present we don’t know.”

Another question that will need to be answered is the relationship between the children’s gastrointestinal symptoms and their behaviors.

“Children with ASD with increased inflammation are often those who exhibit the most severe behaviors,” Ashwood said. “This immune activation is not helping these children. It might not be causing autism – we don’t know that yet – but it’s certainly making things worse.”

The findings on TGFβ1 may be the most intriguing. The protein was deregulated in both ASD groups, suggesting that the children who don’t experience GI symptoms may be suffering from other inflammatory conditions.

“It’s significant that the regulatory aspect of the immune system is decreased, which puts them at risk for inflammation,” said Rose. “Many studies point to different types of inflammation, and I think this one kind of summarizes why all those other findings can be true at the same time.”

In addition, TGFβ1 plays a role in neurodevelopment and may constitute a potential link between immune deregulation and neurological symptoms. The authors caution that much more work must be done to tease out these relationships.

Still the study could provide clues for the development of potential treatments to mitigate GI and other inflammatory symptoms associated with ASD.

“It’s a step toward understanding co-morbidities that are present in at least half of children with ASD, and working out which of these children may respond well to certain types of therapies,” said Ashwood. “Although it’s still early, this work suggests we need to find ways to ease inflammation to help these children.”

Other authors included Houa Yang, Milo Careaga, Heather K. Hughes, Kathy Angkustsiri Melissa Rose, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Judy Van de Water and Robin L. Hansen at UC Davis; Gloria Serena, Craig Sturgeon and Alessio Fasano at Mass General Hospital for Children; and Bing Ma and Jacques Ravel at the University of Maryland.

This work was funded by the Autism Speaks Foundation (grant 7567), the National Institutes of Health (R21HD086669, R21ES025560, R01ES015359, P30ES23513, U54HD079125, UL1TR001860, R01DK048373 and P01ES011269), the Jane Botsford Johnson Foundation, the Jonty Foundation and the Peter Emch Foundation.

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At the U.C. Davis MIND Institute, world-renowned scientists engage in collaborative, interdisciplinary research to find the causes of and develop treatments and cures for autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), fragile X syndrome, 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, Down syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders. For more information, visit mindinstitute.ucdavis.edu