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Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

Our Research Findings in the News


June,  2012 - Rising rates of autism along with the increasing breadth and reach of synthetic chemicals -- some of which are known to be toxic and most of which we know near nothing about -- raises questions for which scientists are beginning to offer a few answers.

May 23, 2012 - Women who reported having had a fever during pregnancy were more likely to give birth to a baby who would later be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or a development delay, says a major new study. But the babies of women who treated their fevers with medication fared no worse than babies whose mothers recalled having suffered no fevers at all.

May 1, 2012 — UC Davis autism researcher and education specialist Peter Mundy has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to apply virtual-reality technology to evaluate social attention and its relation to academic achievement among school children with autism.

April 24, 2012 — New research from UC Davis and Washington State University shows that PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, launch a cellular chain of events that leads to an overabundance of dendrites -- the filament-like projections that conduct electrochemical signals between neurons -- and disrupts normal patterns of neuronal connections in the brain.
April 8, 2012 — A major study of the relationships between maternal metabolic conditions and the risk that a child will be born with a neurodevelopmental disorder has found strong links between maternal diabetes and obesity and the likelihood of having a child with autism or another developmental disability.  [en español]

Abbeduto receives $2.6 million grant from NIH to study language learning in fragile X
February 27, 2012 — Leonard Abbeduto, director of the UC Davis MIND Institute, has received a more than $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct an examination of the development of language among individuals with fragile X syndrome, the leading inherited cause of intellectual disability and the leading single-gene cause of autism spectrum disorder.



Treating 'Fragile X Syndrome' autism symptoms
December 26, 2011 — You've probably never heard of it, but one in three kids with autism has Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). It's a disorder involving chromosomes that can be diagnosed while your baby's still in the womb. Now a new treatment is helping kids with Fragile X get rid of some of the symptoms that affect them developmentally.

UC Davis MIND Institute MARBLES Study receives $10 million NIH grant
September 29, 2011 — UC Davis researchers have received a five-year, $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to expand a landmark study assessing the role of environmental and genetic risk factors in the development of autism among young children.

MIND Institute researcher receives grant to study sertraline use for fragile X syndrome
September 14, 2011 — Researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute have received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a pilot study of whether sertraline, also known by the brand name Zoloft, can be useful in relieving anxiety in very young children diagnosed with fragile X syndrome.

 UC Davis MIND Institute to participate in clinical trial of targeted treatment for fragile X syndrome
June 30, 2011 — The UC Davis MIND Institute is participating in a nationwide, multicenter clinical trial of an investigational medication that has shown clinically meaningful improvements in social functioning in adolescents and young adults with fragile X syndrome.


Women who start prenatal vitamins early are less likely to have children with autism
May 24, 2011 — Women who reported not taking a daily prenatal vitamin immediately before and during the first month of pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to have a child with an autism spectrum disorder as women who did take the supplements — and the associated risk rose to seven times as great when combined with a high-risk genetic make-up, a study by researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute has found.


Las mujeres que comienzan a tomar vitaminas prenatales oportunamente tienen menos probabilidades de tener hijos que sufren de autismo 
May 24, 2011 — Las mujeres que reportaron que no tomaban una vitamina prenatal a diario, inmediatamente antes y durante el primer mes del embarazo, tenían casi el doble de probabilidades de tener a un hijo que sufría de un trastorno del espectro autista, que las mujeres que sí tomaban los suplementos — y el riesgo asociado con el mismo aumentó a siete veces más cuando se combinaba con una composición genética de alto riesgo, ha determinado un estudio realizado por los investigadores en el Instituto de MIND de UC Davis.


Hope builds for treating intellectual disabilities 
May 1, 2011 — A common medication is one of several drugs that might correct or even reverse the effects of fragile X, autism and other developmental disorders



UC Davis researchers win $3 million grant from U.S. Congress to study fragile X 
February 8, 2011 — Three internationally respected UC Davis researchers — two expert in fragile X syndrome and one in epilepsy — have joined forces to test the efficacy of an innovative new approach to treating children with fragile X, through a $3 million grant from the U.S. Congress.



Study finds Hmong, Iu-Mein families face barriers to services
December 1, 2010 — A new community-based study by UC Davis researchers has found that children with developmental disabilities in Southeast-Asian-American families face significant obstacles to receiving intervention services. Barriers include lack of accurate information, language difficulties, lack of trust and limited outreach.

Fragile Promises: Medical Breakthrough May Give Hope to Thousands
August 2, 2010 — For 25 years, Brenda Finucane has helped families cope with developmental disabilities in her role as a genetic counselor at Elwyn Training & Research Institute in Middletown.  Finucane got what she considers possibly the best news of her professional life.  Clinical trials of a medication in which six Elwyn clients participated have produced promising results

ADHD, Conduct Disorder and Smoking Most Strongly Related to Dropping out of High School
July 26, 2010 — Teens with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — the most common childhood psychiatric condition in the United States — are less likely to finish high school on time than students with other mental-health disorders that often are considered more serious, a large national study by researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine has found.  The study found that nearly one third of students with ADHD, twice the proportion as students with no psychiatric disorder, either drop out or delay high school graduation.

A Condition Too Often Undiagnosed: 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome
June 30, 2010 — An article published in the June issue of the journal Nature Reviews:  Neuroscience provides one of the first comprehensive overviews of the genetic, neural and cognitive bases of a frequently undiagnosed congenital disorder with an array of complex genetic, medical, neurological, behavioral and psychiatric features: the often baffling chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS).

Researchers Find Early Autism Signs in Some Kids
March 12, 2010 — Some infants headed for a diagnosis of autism, or autism spectrum disorder as it’s officially known, can be reliably identified at 14 months old based on the presence of five key behavior problems, according to an ongoing long-term study described March 11 at the International Conference on Infant Studies.

Autism's Earliest Symptoms Not Evident in Children Under 6 Months
February 16, 2010 — A study of the development of autism in infants, comparing the behavior of the siblings of children diagnosed with autism to that of babies developing normally, has found that the nascent symptoms of the condition — a lack of shared eye contact, smiling and communicative babbling — are not present at 6 months, but emerge gradually and only become apparent during the latter part of the first year of life.

UC Davis Study Confirms Link Between Advanced Maternal Age and Autism
February 8, 2010 — Advanced maternal age is linked to a significantly elevated risk of having a child with autism, regardless of the father’s age, according to an exhaustive study of all births in California during the 1990s by UC Davis Health System researchers. Advanced paternal age is associated with elevated autism risk only when the father is older and the mother is under 30, the study found.

Hansen to Address Fostering Community Partnerships at Next Minds Behind the MIND Lecture
January 22, 2010 — Robin Hansen M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the UC Davis MIND Institute and an advocate for full inclusion for people with developmental disorders, will discuss the activities of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (CEDD) and its role in fostering community partnerships during the next Minds Behind the MIND lecture.


Startup Tests Drugs Aimed at Autism
January 07, 2010 — Compounds that show promise in mice with mutations may offer similar hope to humans.  Seaside Therapeutics, a startup based in Cambridge, MA, is testing two compounds for the treatment of fragile X syndrome, a rare, inherited form of intellectual disability linked to autism.


New Evidence That Early Therapy Helps Autistic Kids
November 30, 2009  — Evidence that use of early therapy like the Denver Model developed by Sally Rogers of the MIND Institute results in important improvements for children with autism.

UC Davis Study Finds Mercury Levels in Children with Autism and Those Developing Typically Are the Same
October 19, 2009  — In a large population-based study published online today, researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute report that after adjusting for a number of factors, typically developing children and children with autism have similar levels of mercury in their blood streams. Mercury is a heavy metal found in other studies to adversely affect the developing nervous system.

UC Davis Researchers Receive Prestigious Stimulus Grant for Stem-cell Research on FXTAS
October 13, 2009  — UC Davis researchers are among a handful of scientists nationwide to receive a highly coveted challenge grant from the National Institutes of Health, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The award is one of only 200 selected from among 22,000 challenge grant applications.

UC Davis MIND Institute's Robin Hansen, M.D. Honored for her Role in Fostering Inclusion for the Disabled
October 8, 2009  — Robin Hansen, M.D., director of clinical programs at the UC Davis MIND Institute, was honored at the 16th Annual Supported Life Institute’s (SLI) Inclusion Celebration on Wednesday, Oct. 7, as an outstanding role model in supporting community inclusion of all people, including people with developmental disabilities.

Prenatal Exposure to Dioxin-like PCBs Interferes with Brain Development
September 1, 2009  — A study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute has found that prenatal exposure to a particular category of the persistent environmental pollutants PCBs is associated with the strongest detrimental effects on fetal neurodevelopment.

Autism: It's the Environment, Not Just Doctors Diagnosing More Disease
July 16, 2009  — California's sevenfold increase in autism cannot be explained by changes in doctors' diagnoses and most likely is due to environmental exposures, University of California scientists reported Thursday. "It's time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism in California," said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an epidemiology professor at University of California, Davis who led the study.


Interactions Between Biology and Environment Crucial in Treating ADHD
July 13, 2009  — Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects 3 to 5 percent of children and adolescents and is the most commonly diagnosed child psychiatric disorder worldwide. It is also highly prevalent in adults with approximately 4 percent of the adult population thought to have ADHD. On July 16 Julie Schweitzer, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and an expert on ADHD, will discuss what her research reveals about how best to help people with the condition.

UC Davis Researchers Develop New Test for Fragile X Syndrome
June 25, 2009 — Researchers at UC Davis have developed a new test that will measure the protein deficit responsible for fragile X syndrome — the single-most common cause of intellectual impairment and the most-commonly inherited cause of autism.


UC Davis to Collaborate on Nation's Most Comprehensive Study of Autism Early Risk Factors
June 9, 2009 — A network of leading autism researchers from three regions across the country today launched one of the largest research studies of its kind to investigate early risk factors for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

UC Davis MIND Institute to Hold Day-Long Conference on Autism, Neurodevelopmental Disorders
May 28, 2009 — State-of-the-art research and best practices for interventions to support children and adults with autism, Asperger syndrome, fragile X syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders will be presented by leaders in the field during a one-day conference for families, educators and other professionals on Friday, August 7, 2009.

Experts Respond to Book “The Horse Boy,” that Chronicles a Father’s Trip to Mongolia to Ride Horses and Visit Shamans as Part of an Effort to Heal His Son’s Autism
April 14, 2009 — Rupert Isaacson decided to take his autistic son, Rowan, on a trip to Mongolia to ride horses and seek the help of shamans two years ago, he had a gut instinct that the adventure would have a healing effect on the boy.  Mr. Isaacson’s instinct was rewarded after the trip, when some of Rowan’s worst behavioral issues, including wild temper tantrums, all but disappeared.

How PCBs May Hurt the Brain. New Studies Shed Light on Exposure to Environmental Toxin and Development of Brain Cells
April 13, 2009 — Exposure to environmental toxins known as PCBs have long been linked with behavioral and developmental problems in children, but scientists could never say exactly how PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) might adversely affect the brain and lead to the problems.


Promising Autism Treatments, From Vitamin B12 to Alzheimer’s Drug Namenda
April 2, 2009 — Research and testing point to new methods for identifying and treating autism.


UC Davis Researcher Receives $2.6 Million Grant to Study Most Common Human Genetic Deletion
April 2, 2009 — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Tony J. Simon, Ph.D., pediatric cognitive neuroscientist with the UC Davis MIND Institute, a five-year, $2.6 million grant to study the syndrome associated with the single most common genetic deletion in humans — chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.

Inconsistent Performance Speed Among Children With ADHD May Underlie How Well They Use Memory
March 24, 2009 — Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show more variable or inconsistent responses during ‘working’ or short-term memory tasks when compared with typically developing peers, a study by UC Davis MIND Institute researcher Julie Schweitzer has found.

UC Davis MIND Institute Study Shows California's Autism Increase Not Due to Better Counting, Diagnosis
January 7, 2009 — A study by researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute has found that the seven- to eight-fold increase in the number children born with autism in California  since 1990 cannot be explained by either changes in how the condition is diagnosed or counted — and the trend shows no sign of abating.

New Drug Shows Promise for Treatment of Adults with Fragile X Syndrome
January 6, 2009  — A study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago and the UC Davis MIND Institute has found that an oral drug therapy, called fenobam, shows promising results and could be an effective new treatment for adults with fragile X syndrome.


Julie Schweitzer, Ph.D., is Establishing a Comprehensive ADHD Research and Treatment Program at the MIND Institute
January 2009  — Using the latest brain imaging technology, Julie Schweitzer, Ph.D., is revealing the inner workings of the brains of adults and children with ADHD — attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Dr. Schweitzer, who also has extensive clinical experience in treating patients with ADHD, will now use her expertise to establish a comprehensive ADHD program at the MIND Institute.