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BrainFacts.org

Introduction

Parents and physicians track when children reach developmental milestones. Sometimes, missing these targets or developing abnormal behaviors is an indication of a nervous system disorder and cause for evaluation by medical professionals. Scientists have strong evidence that some childhood disorders, including autism and Rett syndrome, are caused by impairments in brain development. Others such as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are believed to be caused, in part, by abnormal brain cell activity. Human and animal research has shown that problems in genes, molecules, and cells contribute to various childhood disorders. These studies could one day lead to the development of new drugs or specialized education programs, and the early diagnosis of childhood disorders can help parents make informed decisions about treatment.

Discoveries

Source: Wellcome Trust
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a common mental health problem that severely disrupts people's lives. It is poorly understood and often dismissed as bad behaviour or laziness. Penny Bailey spoke with Anita Thapar about its genetic basis.
Source: Society for Neuroscience
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by impaired social skills; verbal and nonverbal communication difficulties; and narrow, obsessive interests or repetitive behaviors.
Source: Society for Neuroscience
Until recently, scientists believed inherited developmental brain disorders, such as fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and autism, were caused by permanent brain abnormalities.
Source: Society for Neuroscience
Down syndrome, the most frequently occurring chromosomal condition, appears in 1 of every 691 babies, or about 6,000 babies annually in the U.S.
Source: Society for Neuroscience
The growing prevalence and cost of ADHD calls for research to better understand the disorder.

Childhood Disorders in the News

Source: New York Times
Date: 21 Aug 2014

The findings may explain symptoms of autism like oversensitivity to noise, as well as why many people with autism also have epilepsy.

Source: Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date: 21 Aug 2014
To characterize people who carry deletions in 16p11.2 and 15q13.3, genetic regions linked to autism, two studies published this summer looked in detail at dozens of people with either deletion.
Source: Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date: 5 Aug 2014
Researchers measure how brain networks work together by scanning volunteers' brains either while they're resting passively or while they're engaged in a task.
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