All posts by Bessie Cooper

A Way to Track Exposures That May Contribute to Autism Spectrum Disorder


Researchers in autism spectrum disorders have discovered a promising new way to detect prenatal exposures that could increase risk for autism even years after the exposures occurred.

The researchers in their study showed that a chemical signature of prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke can be detected in the blood of pre-schoolers. Weather smoking during pregnancy contributes to autism is not a known fact yet. But, since the mother can say whether or not she smoked during her pregnancy, a clear chemical signature of prenatal exposure persisted into childhood could still be seen.

The next step is to look for markers for less-obvious toxic exposures, which are suspected to increase the risk of autism spectrum. Among these include exposure to air pollution, pesticides, plasticizers and maternal inflammation during a woman’s pregnancy.

A study which was led by Daniele Fallin and Christine Ladd-Acosta, appeared in the journal Environmental Research a couple of weeks ago.

She is the director of the Bloomberg School’s Wendy Klag Center for Autism & Developmental Disabilities at Johns Hopkins University.

More to the point, Fallin’s team is looking at so-called epigenetic markers. These are chemical tags which sit on top a gene’s DNA. These help control where and when the gene is active.

This epigenetic control of gene activity is especially crucial for guiding early brain development. Chemical exposures, infection and other types of stresses can change epigenetics. This in turn can alter gene activity in important and permanent ways.

Across the whole study, the researchers performed whole genome epigenetic analysis on the blood of children, ages 3 to 5.  It total there were 531 from six sites across America. The children’s mothers were asked about smoking during pregnancy.

The next step was to analyze epigenetic patterns (methylation) at 26 locations across the children’s genomes. They were able to identify which mothers smoked during pregnancy with 81 percent accuracy based on all of the available data.

There have been other researchers that had previously identified these epigenetic signatures. They found them in infant cord blood from prenatal pregnancies. This new study however, is the first to show that the tell-tale chemical evidence persists to at least the age of about 5.

It is Fallins hope this area of research has a much broader reach. When a prenatal mother smokes, she says it is quite easy to determine whether someone was exposed prenatally. All you have to do is ask the mother or ask someone whether the mother smoked while she was pregnant. However, when there is exposures to other toxins, it is more difficult to tease out. The biggest problem is that the mother may not know whether she was exposed or not.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder

The First Three Sculptures to be Installed on Hove Plinth

The first three sculptures to be installed on Hove Plinth have been unveiled in small scale form.

Hove Civic Society launched a competition earlier this year to find artists who could bring contemporary sculpture to Hove seafront.

The winning sculptures are Escape by Matthew James Davies, Flight of the Langoustines by Pierre Diamantopoulo and Constellation by Jonathan Wright.

A first major commission for Oxford-based Davies, his sculpture cast in blue resin aims to mirror the movements of nature, such as the sea breeze, gliding birds and rolling waves.

Brighton sculptor Diamantopoulo who has exhibited in the UK and internationally took inspiration from a discarded lobster pot for his piece about human exodus and release.

Wright, who is based in Folkestone and has also exhibited at home and abroad, will involve local residents to help choose which iconic Hove images will be part of his sculpture.

Each sculpture will be in place on the plinth for 12-18 months and then found a permanent position in Hove or Brighton, which could include corporate headquarters, new developments or public spaces.

The Society has begun fundraising in earnest to ensure the plinth can be built and sculptures commissioned at the earliest opportunity.display plinths
A range of founder packages and corporate sponsorship opportunities are available but anyone can make a donation of any size to help make Hove Plinth a reality.

Hove Civic Society has planning permission to install a stone plinth on the King’s Esplanade at the foot of Grand Avenue. The plinth will be used for changing displays of sculpture, inspired by the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. It will have technological capabilities to make viewing the sculptures an interactive, educational experience.
Hove Civic Society are aiming to have the plinth and its first installation in place in spring 2017.

Original Article Found Here

Blitz That Job Interview

Asking questions in a business job interview  is a great way to show that you’re interested in the position but you need to make sure you are asking the right ones.

There are some topics and questions that are best avoided because asking them in the interview could put a black mark against your name.

Find out the 4 questions NOT to ask in a job interview.

Don’t forget:

  • Salary and benefit negotiations are best left out of the interview process
  • Rephrase ‘why’ questions to sound less confrontational
  • Don’t ask questions that make you look unprepared.
  • Avoid anything to do with work-life balance
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