The April 2017 issue of Acta Paediatrica had several interesting articles of some interest to the autism community. This is a classical journal that emphasizes clinical studies of value in the everyday practice of pediatrics. I had the pleasure of meeting its editor, Hugo Lagercrantz, and publishing an article about TMS and autism in this journal.
Reading and media
The ability to read is acquired explicitly when a child is 4-6 years of age. However, reading ability relies on the development of more basic abilities before children start to read and this process starts at birth. Horowitz-Kraus et al explain how language, cognitive control and literacy milestones can be evaluated and trained from birth, in order to create a successful reader later in life. Meanwhile, Kostyrka-Allchorne et al documented current media habits of children aged 3-6 in the United Kingdom. They found that traditional television remained the favourite type of media, but that touch screen devices were gaining in popularity. The concurrent use of more than one screen device was common.
Microbiota and the brain and gut in infant colic
The aetiology of colic crying remains unresolved and treatment options are limited. Savino et al compared the gut microbiota composition of 77 formula-fed infants and found that the faeces of the infants with colic contained a lower number of total bacteria than the faeces of the infants without colic. The results support the idea that the microbiota-gut-brain axis plays an important role in the mechanisms of colic. Pärtty and Kalliomäki comment on the findings.
Special diets are common among preschool children in Sweden
A survey of 3276 preschool children aged one to five years in Karlskrona, Sweden, showed that 19 % of the children had special diets, including 12% on nonmedical diets and 6,3% on medical diets. The five most common diets were avoiding pork, a vegetarian diet and avoiding cows’ milk, hens’ egg and lactose. Half (47%) of the children on special medical diets lacked a medical certificate for their diet. Servin and her co-authors suggest that mandatory medical certificates for medically based special diets might reduce unnecessary dietary restrictions.
Screening for coeliac disease in type 1 diabetes
The risk of having coeliac disease is more than five times higher for people with type 1 diabetes than for the general population. However, screening children with type 1 diabetes for coeliac disease remains controversial, because they often appear asymptomatic. Laitinen et al followed 22 patients whose coeliac disease was detected by serological screening during diabetes surveillance and found that they had fewer clinical symptoms, but that most of the signs of mucosal damage were similar to those diagnosed on a clinical basis. In their comments on the paper, Ludvigsson and Lebwohl suggest that the lack of differences in mucosal atrophy was probably due to the small sample size, but point out that the study still underlines the value of examining children with type 1 diabetes for other autoimmune problems, including coeliac disease.