Tag Archives: infancy

Gene Mutations Cause Massive Brain Asymmetry

Discovery could help lead to prevention of radical surgery for rare childhood disease

Hemimegalencephaly is a rare but dramatic condition of infancy in which half the brain is malformed and much larger than the other half. Its cause is unknown, but the current treatment is radical: the surgical disconnection and removal of the diseased half of the brain.

In a paper published in the June 24 online issue of the journal Nature Genetics, a team of doctors and scientists says mutations in a trio of genes that help regulate cell size and proliferation are likely culprits in causing the disorder, though perhaps not the only ones.

These mutations, known as de novo somatic mutations, are genetic changes in the cells of the brain. Because they are in non-sex organs, the mutations are not transmitted to the child by either parent. (more…)

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Testosterone-fuelled Infantile Males Might be a Product of Mom’s Behaviour

By comparing the testosterone levels of five-month old pairs of twins, both identical and non-identical, University of Montreal researchers were able to establish that testosterone levels in infancy are not inherited genetically but rather determined by environmental factors. “Testosterone is a key hormone for the development of male reproductive organs, and it is also associated with behavioural traits, such as sexual behaviour and aggression,” said lead author Dr. Richard E. Tremblay of the university’s Research Unit on Children’s Psychosocial Maladjustment. “Our study is the largest to be undertaken with newborns, and our results contrast with the findings gained by scientists working with adolescents and adults, indicating that testosterone levels are inherited.” The findings were presented in an article published in Psychoneuroendocrinology on May 7, 2012. (more…)

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