Autism and food allergies University of Iowa

The university of Iowa did an analysis of the US National Health Interview Survey data from 1997 to 20161. They came out with a correlation between autism and food allergies.

The data is interview based, so if someone thought they had a food allergy they mentioned it. Not a clinical result but may warrant further investigation.

Guifeng Xu, MD; Linda G. Snetselaar, PhD; Jin Jing, MD, PhD; et al, Association of Food Allergy and Other Allergic Conditions With Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(2):e180279. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0279

DDT and elevated odds of Autism

As seen elsewhere on the Internet, Science Daily has released an article that links the chemical banned 30 years ago to increased odds of Autism today. Maybe chemicals that break down very slowly should be tested more before being added to the food chain?

Other highlights from the article:

“ National birth cohort study finds DDT metabolites in the blood of pregnant women are associated with elevated odds of autism in offspring

A study of more than 1 million pregnancies in Finland reports that elevated levels of a metabolite of the banned insecticide DDT in the blood of pregnant women are linked to increased risk for autism in the offspring. An international research team led by investigators at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Department of Psychiatry published these results in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The study, conducted in collaboration with investigators at the University of Turku and the National Institute of Health and Welfare in Finland, is the first to connect an insecticide with risk for autism using maternal biomarkers of exposure.

Researchers identified 778 cases of childhood autism among offspring born from 1987 to 2005 to women enrolled in the Finnish Maternity Cohort, representing 98 percent of pregnant women in Finland. They matched these mother-child pairs with control offspring of mothers and offspring without autism. Maternal blood taken during early pregnancy was analyzed for DDE, a metabolite of DDT, and PCBs, another class of environmental pollutants.

The investigators found the odds of autism with intellectual disability in offspring were increased by greater than twofold for the mother’s DDE levels in the top quartile. For the overall sample of autism cases, the odds were nearly one-third higher among offspring exposed to elevated maternal DDE levels. The findings persisted after adjusting for several confounding factors such as maternal age and psychiatric history. There was no association between maternal PCBs and autism. “

Additional Reference:
Alan S. Brown et al. Association of Maternal Insecticide Levels With Autism in Offspring From a National Birth Cohort. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2018 DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.17101129


Stem cells for Autism therapy

Stem cells help Autism

In April 2017 Duke University released the results of a study looking at stem cells to help people with Autism. They looked at the effects of cord blood on 25 children with autism. The results of that study were impressive but it was a safety study only, so additional testing was started. Duke recently published some results from the next study in the series.

It does seem that stem cells can help in some symptoms of Autism, which is initially helping those with cord blood from a family member. I wonder if autologous transplants (taking your own stem cells found in bone and other organs) will be something to experiment with in the future?

It should also be noted that while stem cells seem to resolve some issues, it may not be the way for every person or the only way.

Additional References

Victor Mifsud - My Neuroplastic Adventure

Recently I attended a talk at Biohacking and Longevity Toronto with a guest speaker: Victor Mifsud. He is the filmmaker behind “My Neuroplastic Adventure”, a documentary of a biohacking journey, exploring solutions ranging from breakthrough neuroscience to ancient forms of tribal healing. The trailer looks interesting and I cannot wait to see the whole film.

Documentary trailer link:

Biohacking and Longevity TO - 2018-08-01

Questions during the meeting were handled quickly by Victor, although he never did get to finish his presentation due to the volume of questions. Some discussion points that came up were:

  • Sleep
  • Blue Light
  • EMF - WiFi in the house
  • Inflammation

Additional Biohacking conferences came up as well, the two in Toronto were Archangel Summit and Spark Biohack. The International conference was the BulletProof Conference.

Information Security Breaches and Lessons Learned

Information Security is littered with examples of data breaches. This would not bother me so much if the root cause of each loss of data was due to some interesting or novel attack. What we have though is not that. Attacks against enterprises and consumers follow the same pattern so much that the “top 10” OWASP attacks were the same for many years (2003-2015 ?).

How depressing is that? I get it once someone discovers buffer overflows there will be several novel ways to use that technique to get a target computer to do something that it wasn’t supposed to and it takes some time for programmers to catch up with the new standard to remove buffer overflows complexly from their code. But how long is that? When will be have software that is buffer overflow proof on compile?

Not to pick on buffer overflows explicitly but any of the attack vectors that have been around for more than an upgrade cycle or two should be stomped out. Cross site scripting (XSS) is not a feature. If you wrote code that used it for something interesting (say, authentication) take the time now to get out of debt and fix the problem once and for all.

Firewalls, IPS, and other network appliances now allow for “virtual patching” where those flaws are so common that the attack is blocked on the wire. This sounds great, but now that more traffic flows are being encrypted end-to-end, with certificate pinning and other techniques to determine if someone is intercepting the traffic this feature will not be available for too much longer.

This practice of hiding behind firewalls has made writing quality software less common and patching the software that is in place much, much harder.

Let’s solve some problems. Fix the root causes. Moving the needle forward again can only be done when we step back and fix what is really wrong.

Useful fonts for terminals

Fonts are very important to the final look of a document, but also when accessing systems via terminal! Terminal fonts to me should have three important features:

  1. Monospaced so text columns stack the way they are expected to on a console session
  2. Visible difference between a capital o and a zero: O0. Personally, I like my zeros with a slash.
  3. Visible difference between “1”, lower case “l” and upper case i: 1lI

There are many fonts available that meet these requirements, but if you are running Windows try using Consolas the next time you use putty or SecurCRT. If you have the ability to download fonts I would recommend you try Hack and Inconsolata. They may not be perfect, but all of those are better than “Times New Roman” for console windows. Find one you like!

Hexo normal line breaks

Normal Markdown ignores a single line break, for some reason standard Hexo inserts the \<br> character even on single breaks. I prefer having single breaks in source code to be transparent to the reader, allowing the readers screen size to determine where line breaks are.

To create “standard” line break behaviour add this to your _config.yml:

1. marked:
2.  gfm: true
3.  breaks: false

HTML Redirects

Every once and a while I re-arrange websites. Inserting new load balancers, adding a new layer to the inbound traffic stack, different web servers, whatever.

Sometimes I need to do the simple thing and force a client to go to a different web page due to infrastructure changes. This is the easiest way I have found to get that done.

  • Move content to its new location
  • In the now empty directory create a file index.html (or default.htm)
  • Add the following line to that file:
    <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; URL=''" />

  • Done!


    Ringcentral not making calls

    TL;DR: Reduce the MTU on your laptop to enable Ringcentral to make calls.

    The other day I was testing RingCentral on my laptop to replace desktop phones. The mobile app worked perfectly, but the desktop app would not make outbound calls. They were “connecting” but never rang the destination phone.

    A few PCAPs later and I noticed the router was sending ICMP messages about not being able to fragment the packets being sent. Reducing the MTU to eliminate the fragmenting problem, and everything worked as expected.

    The windows commands that were run are:

    netsh interface ipv4 show subinterface
    netsh interface ipv4 set subinterface interface=Ethernet mtu=1400 store=persistent

    I hope this helps.