Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Consider congenital cytomegalovirus infection when it comes to autism

"The finding lends some further support for congenital CMV [cytomegalovirus] being one of the many aetiologies underlying autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability."

That was the conclusion reached by Mona-Lisa Engman and colleagues [1] from Sweden following their study looking to "evaluate the prevalence of congenital cytomegalovirus infection (CMV) in a representative sample of children with autism spectrum disorder." Carrying some rather distinguished company as part of the authorship list (see here and see here for example), researchers analysed that most important (and under-rated in my opinion) of resources, the newborn dried blood spot (see here), to screen for "CMV DNA using TaqMan-polymerase chain reaction."

"One of the 33 children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability - 3% of that group - had congenital CMV infection." Allowing for the small group included for study and the isolated case of congenital CMV infection detected, the corresponding general population estimate for congenital CMV in Sweden (0.2%) was surpassed leading to the call for "similar studies with much larger samples."

I've talked about congenital CMV infection and autism before on this blog (see here) and how some studies [2] have talked about infection rates quite a bit in excess of that seen in the general population when examining children diagnosed with autism. I've got little more to say on this topic aside from the idea that screening for congenital CMV should perhaps be expanded as and when autism is diagnosed. As per other research from Engman [3] congenital CMV might also carry some specific morphological changes to the brain which could also be included for further inspection, particularly in light of the findings from Erbetta and colleagues [4] covered in a recent post (see here).

And then to mechanisms of effect...

Music: Kate Bush and Army Dreamers. And if you're really interested (as I was), The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill.


[1] Engman ML. et al. Prenatal acquired cytomegalovirus infection should be considered in children with autism. Acta Paediatr. 2015 Apr 21.

[2] Sakamoto A. et al. Retrospective diagnosis of congenital cytomegalovirus infection in children with autism spectrum disorder but no other major neurologic deficit. Brain Dev. 2015 Feb;37(2):200-5.

[3] Engman ML. et al. Congenital cytomegalovirus infection: the impact of cerebral cortical malformations. Acta Paediatr. 2010 Sep;99(9):1344-9.

[4] Erbetta A. et al. Low-Functioning Autism and Nonsyndromic Intellectual Disability: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Findings. J Child Neurol. 2015 Apr 20.


ResearchBlogging.org Engman ML, Sundin M, Miniscalco C, Westerlund J, Lewensohn-Fuchs I, Gillberg C, & Fernell E (2015). Prenatal acquired cytomegalovirus infection should be considered in children with autism. Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992) PMID: 25900322