Higher risk of autism spectrum disorder in children whose parents were born preterm or with low birthweight

Jingyuan Xiao, Zeyan Liew and Jiong Li

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) comprises a heterogeneous group of impaired neurodevelopmental conditions. The aetiology of ASD is complex and largely unclear, with some recent evidence suggesting the possibility of transmission of risk across multiple generations.

Our study, recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, evaluated the associations between birth characteristics of parents and the subsequent risk of ASD in their children.

Continue reading “Higher risk of autism spectrum disorder in children whose parents were born preterm or with low birthweight”

Does fathers’ smoking give their future offspring asthma?

Cecilie Svanes, Jennifer Koplin, Francisco Gomez Real, and Svein Magne SkulstadSlide1

A new study shows that asthma is three times more common in those who had a father who smoked in adolescence, and twice as common in those whose father worked with welding before conception. Can these numbers be reduced by including adolescent boys in public health prevention programmes?

It is well known that a mother’s environment plays a key role in child health. The hypothesis that health and disease originate early in life has dramatically increased our understanding of this issue. However, recent research suggests that this may also be true for fathers; i.e. father’s lifestyle and age appear to be reflected in molecules that control gene function. There is growing evidence from animal studies for “epigenetic” inheritance, a mechanism whereby the father’s environment before conception could impact on the health of future generations. Continue reading “Does fathers’ smoking give their future offspring asthma?”

Metabolomic markers of aging

This article originally appeared on the OUPblog on 26 October 2013: http://blog.oup.com/2013/10/metabolomic-markers-of-aging/

Ana M. Valdes

Aging is a complex process of accumulation of molecular, cellular, and organ damage, leading to loss of function and increased vulnerability to disease and death. Lifestyle choices such as smoking and physical fitness can hasten or delay the aging process. This has led to the search for molecular markers of age that can be used to predict, monitor, and provide insight into age-associated decline and disease.

Metabolomics is a novel technology that entails the simultaneous study of numerous low-molecular weight compounds, called metabolites. The aim is to profile all low-molecular weight metabolites that are present in biological samples. Metabolites represent intermediate and end products of metabolic pathways that rapidly reflect physiological dysfunctions and may mirror early stages of a pathological process. Continue reading “Metabolomic markers of aging”