Autism in fragile X syndrome tied to seizures, sleep problems

Illustraction by Cinyee Chiu

Source: [Spectrum,  | October 25, 2017]

In people with fragile X syndrome, autism is often accompanied by seizures, trouble falling asleep and anxiety, a new study suggests1.

Fragile X syndrome is an inherited form of intellectual disability. Small studies and family surveys have hinted that people who have both fragile X and autism have more neurological and behavioral problems than people who have fragile X alone2. The new findings confirmed these observations in more than 200 people with both conditions.

“The study is the first large-scale study of autism spectrum disorder in fragile X syndrome,” says lead researcher Walter Kaufmann, Ravenel Boykin Curry Chair in Genetic Therapeutics at the Greenwood Genetic Clinic in Greenville, South Carolina.

The researchers used data from a database called the Fragile X Online Registry With Accessible Research Database (FORWARD). The study included analysis of clinical records and parent reports for 556 individuals with fragile X, aged 3 to 21, from 25 clinics across the United States. Of those individuals, 237 also have autism.

“The size and the geographical diversity [of the population] are real strengths,” of the study, says Leonard Abbeduto, director of the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the work.

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