Recent News

30/07/19

New research suggests autism could be spotted at birth

Children with autism could be identified at birth, by looking into their eyes – enabling treatments to start years before symptoms develop giving more chance that the treatments will work.

The technique uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) to spot abnormalities in pupil dilation and heart rate. In tests on young girls the computer algorithm accurately detected Rett syndrome – a genetic disorder similar to autism that starts from six months of age.

The device, described in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is non-invasive meaning it can be used on infants without endangering their health.

In the future, it may be used to monitor patients’ responses to treatments. Currently, a clinical trial is testing the ‘party drug’ ketamine for Rett syndrome. A gene therapy trial is also planned.

Children with ASD have problems with communicating, social interaction and are prone to repetitive behaviours. But most cases are not confirmed until after the age of four meaning therapy is started later – delaying their potential impact.

In autism, the brain’s cholinergic circuits which are involved in arousal are disturbed triggering both spontaneous pupil dilation and constriction and speeding up the heart rate.

Read more on this story on the London Economic website

Disabled children at risk amid delays in supplies of intravenous nutrition

The Daily Telegraph reports that hundreds of NHS patients –  including children – who depend on intravenous nutrition – are experiencing delays in deliveries, an investigation has found.

Senior clinical staff said they were “walking a very thin line” amid shortages of supplies of hydration and nutrition for the most vulnerable. 

The British manufacturer of the feed, known as Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN), said hundreds of patients were affected by the problems, which resulted from an inspection by watchdogs. 

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) ordered the firm called Calea to make changes to its processes, in order to maintain product safety.

The MHRA said no defects had been found in the product, but said the company had reduced their output while making the changes.

The feed is used by vulnerable and disabled patients, mainly living in their own homes. 

More on this story on the Daily Telegraph website

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