Spectrum Newsletter - Issue 2

Issue 2 - October 2009

Spectrum informs ADDRP Newsletter subscribers about the latest ADDRP activities, reviews recent studies in the field of autism and developmental disabilities, and lists any available educational opportunities through Lucille Packard Children's Hospital and Stanford University.


Welcome. This our second issue of our newsletter "Spectrum" that is being provided on quarterly basis to update you information on the activities of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research Program under the direction of Dr. Antonio Hardan. We appreciated the feedback that we've received after our first issue and will look forward to hear your input about this and future issues. We are hoping that you will find this newsletter helpful and informative. Please feel free to forward it to families and friends.



Autism Spectrum Disorders: Educational Series for Parents

The Stanford Autism Center at LPCH is offering a 10 part program, focused on diagnosis, treatment, and services, for parents of children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Sessions are held at 401 Quarry Road on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:00pm for $5 per meeting. Sessions are on a drop-in basis and parents may join at any time for individual sessions.

Register at http://childpsychiatry.stanford.edu

Issue 2, october 2009


The 2nd to 4th digit ratio and autism (Manning et al., 2001; University of Liverpool).

It has been suggested that autism may arise as the result of exposure to high concentrations of prenatal testosterone. There is evidence that the ratio of the lengths of the 2nd and 4th digit (2D:4D) may be negatively correlated with prenatal testosterone. We measured 2D:4D in 95 families comprised a total 72 children with autism (62 males, 10 females; age range 2 to 14 years), including 34 siblings, 88 fathers, 88 mothers and sex- and agematched control participants. We found that the 2D:4D ratios of children with autism, their siblings, fathers and mothers were lower than population normative values. Children with AS, who share the social and communicative symptoms of autism but have normal or even high IQ, had higher 2D:4D ratios than children with autism but lower ratios than population normative values. There were positive associations between 2D:4D ratios of children with autism and the ratios of their relatives. Children with autism had lower than expected 2D:4D ratios and children with AS higher ratios than expected in relation to their fathers' 2D:4D ratio. It was concluded that 2D:4D ratio may be a possible marker for autism which could implicate prenatal testosterone in its etiology.

A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo- Controlled Study of Fixed-Dose Aripiprazole in Children and Adolescents With Autistic Disorder (Marcus et al., 2009).

The short-term efficacy and safety of aripiprazole were evaluated in the treatment of irritability in children and adolescents with autistic disorder. Two hundred eighteen children and adolescents (aged 6-17 years) with autism and disruptive behaviors were randomized 1:1:1:1 to aripiprazole (5, 10, or 15 mg/ day) or placebo in this 8-week double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study. Efficacy was evaluated using the caregiver-rated Aberrant Behavior Checklist Irritability subscale and the clinician-rated Clinical Global Impressions- Improvement score. At week 8, all aripiprazole doses produced significantly greater improvement than placebo in mean Aberrant Behavior Checklist Irritability subscale scores. All aripiprazole doses demonstrated significantly greater improvements in mean Clinical Global Impressions- Improvement score than placebo at week 8. Discontinuation rates due to adverse events were as follows: placebo 7.7%, aripiprazole 5 mg/day 9.4%, 10 mg/day 13.6%, and 15 mg/day 7.4%. The most common adverse event leading to discontinuation was sedation. At week 8, mean weight change was as follows: placebo +0.3 kg, aripiprazole 5 mg/day +1.3 kg, 10 mg/day +1.3 kg, and 15 mg/day +1.5 kg; all p < .05 versus placebo. In Conlusion, aripiprazole was efficacious and generally safe and well tolerated in the treatment of children and adolescents with irritability associated with autistic disorder.

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Oxytocin in Children with Autism and Siblings

We are interested in the relationship between social behaviors and the hormone oxytocin.

We are looking for children:
  • Between the ages of 3-12 years old.
  • In good medical health.
  • Willing to provide a blood sample and complete IQ testing.

Participants receive up to $50 for completing the study. Please contact us at (650) 736-1235 if you are interested.

Study of Memantine in Pediatric Autism

This study is focused on whether the medication mematine can improve social responsiveness and communication skills in children with Autism.

We are looking for children:

  • Between ages of 6-12 years old.
  • With a diagnosis of autistic disorder.
  • Who are verbally fluent (can form at least three-word phrases).
There is no cost to participate in this study. Please contact us at (650) 736-1235 if you are interested.

Double-Blind Study of NAC in Pediatric Autism

We are studying the safety and effectiveness of an antioxidant medication in the treatment of behavioral difficulties and social deficits in children with Autism.

We are looking for children:

  • Between the ages of 3-12 years old.
  • With a diagnosis of autistic disorder.
  • Who meet behavioral questionnaire guidelines.

There is no cost to participate in this study. Please contact us at (650) 736-1235 if you are interested.

Same-Sex Twins with Autism

This study compares pairs of twins with Autism Spectrum Disorder to typically developing twin pairs.

We are looking for children:

  • In a same-sex twin pair.
  • Between ages 6-14 years old.
  • Willing to complete behavioral testing and a brain-imaging scan.
  • Each twin will receive $100 for completion.

Parents also have the option to enroll their child in the open-label version of this study, in which all participants receive the active medication.

Please contact us at (650) 723-7809 if you are interested.

Editorial Staff:
Alexandra Bond, BA
Mrigendra Steiner, MA
Antonio Hardan, MD

Let us know what you think!
Comments and suggestions are welcome. 

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Autism & Developmental Disabilities
Research Program
Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
401 Quarry Rd., Stanford, CA | 94305-5719
Research: 650-736-1235 | Clinical Services: 650-723-5511