Major Stress During Pregnancy Linked To Autism
- Ohio State University
- Women who have had a major stressful event – death of a spouse, job loss, or a long-distance move – midway through their pregnancy may have a greater chance of having an autistic child than do their unstressed counterparts say researchers at The Ohio State University Medical Center.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Women who have had a major stressful event – death of a spouse, job loss, or a long-distance move – midway through their pregnancy may have a greater chance of having an autistic child than do their unstressed counterparts say researchers at The Ohio State University Medical Center.
In a presentation at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, Dr. David Beversdorf, a neurologist at OSU Medical Center and principal investigator of the study, reported on a study of 188 women who had delivered autistic children. The research showed that these women were more likely to have experienced a major stressor the 24th through 28th weeks of their pregnancy.
“Researchers have been examining the genetic component of the disease for years, but there is now evidence through this study that autism is also linked to external factors, such as prenatal stress,” he said.
“We expected that a woman who has had an autistic child or a child with Down’s syndrome would tend to remember these life stressors more easily than a woman who has had a normal birth,” he said.
These behaviors typically stay with the child throughout his or her life.
Does Autism Cause Inflammation
Studies show that moms dealing with swelling have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with autism. But what happens after the birth? Researchers suggest that children born with autism have unusual types of inflammation throughout their bodies, and that issue sticks with them throughout their lifespan.
Common areas of inflammation in people with autism include:
- The brain. In a study of people with autism, researchers found high levels of an inflammation marker in a part of the brain associated with behavior. This could suggest that a form of swelling leads to some autism symptoms.
- The gut. Inflammation in the stomach and intestines can lead to irritable bowel disease. Children with autism are 67% more likely than their peers to have an IBD diagnosis.
- The lungs and sinuses. About 19% of children with autism have respiratory allergies, compared to 12% of their peers. Inhaling allergens leads to chronic, uncomfortable inflammation that makes breathing difficult.
- The skin. Eczema causes thick, itchy, swollen skin. About 17% of children with autism have these symptoms compared to 10% of their peers.
Some conditions, including allergies, can lead to systemic inflammation, but it’s not unusual for people with autism to have many of these conditions all at once. Their entire bodies are inflamed, even though multiple issues cause that symptom.
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Some 5 percent of all babies born in the United States, or 200,000 a year, are exposed to antidepressants in the uterus. While 1 in 150 US children born in 1992 have been diagnosed with autism, 1 in 68 born in 2002 have been.
First Take: The new study is based on records of 145,456 full-term births;in Quebec from 1998 to 2009. That puts it on the smaller side . Following the children for an average of six years, researchers led by Anick Bérard of the University of Montreal counted 1,054 with a diagnosis of autism. Among mothers who filled at least one prescription for antidepressants during their second and/or third trimester, the risk of having an autistic child was 1.87-fold higher. Taking SSRIs selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine or paroxetine ; as opposed to another kind of antidepressant was associated with 2.17 times the risk.
The researchers used standard statistical analyses to separate out factors such as maternal age, poverty, and age at conception, which might make a woman more likely to have a child with autism. Bérard, who has testified for families in lawsuits claiming that antidepressants caused birth defects, called the link to SSRIs biologically plausible. The drugs;affect the availability of the neurochemical serotonin, which is involved in numerous steps in brain development.
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Implications For Wise Use Of Genetic Risk Factors In Ad
Once genes that increase liability for AD actually have been identified, a key question will be how that information can best be used for prevention. Geneticists such as Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project, and Nobel laureate James Watson, have pointed out the potential dangers of “negative” eugenic approaches that emphasize removal from the gene pool of alleles that increase liability for non-Mendelian psychiatric disorders . has suggested that a more fruitful approach to applying knowledge about liability genes may lie in another direction, namely, in identifying crucial interactions between environmental factors and these genes, in order to tailor interventions that provide optimal environments for individuals who carry these genes. But do some of the most crucial gene-environment interactions occur during the pre- and perinatal periods of development? Efforts to answer this question should be a high priority of research on AD, given that key genetic and environmental factors in this disorder appear to exert their effects on the developing brain near, or even before, birth.
Evidence Of First Trimester Brain Defects
According to researchers who performed a study through the University of California San Diego, there is now clear and direct evidence that autism begins during pregnancy. The study was compiled by comparing the brain tissue of post-mortem children both with and without Autism. Apparently, tissue in the brain cortex was disturbed in the majority of those diagnosed with Autism. This part of the brain is responsible for higher order brain function and it develops in the prenatal period. Scientists say this type of disturbance is viewed as a defect, and could possibly be identified by specific genes that carry the abnormality. Researchers are hopeful that this means that in cases of Autism diagnosed in the toddler years or before, children may still have a chance at significant improvement through clinical treatment. It is not yet clear exactly what is happening in pregnancy to cause the defect, and experts continue to stress that it is unlikely caused by a single factor, but rather by multiple influences from the mother.
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Diseases Of Mother During Pregnancy
The risk of autism in a child of a diabetic mother is twofold than normal one.;When the diabetes is not controlled during pregnancy stages, then the child may have oxidative stress, which in turn leads to autism.;Nonetheless, the diabetes itself directly doesnt cause autism.;Its believed that the thyroid problems in mother may lead to autism, however the hypothesis is yet unproved.
Ways To Manage Stress During Pregnancy
Stress is easy to manage when you recognize it correctly and know how to handle it. It will lead to a positive pregnancy experience and reduce the risk of health complications for you and your baby.
Here are some ways to reduce stress during pregnancy.
- Indulge in some light physical activity such as walking as it not only lowers stress levels but prevents common pregnancy discomforts.
- Try relaxation techniques such as prenatal yoga or meditation.
- Learn to do breathing exercises.
- Just chill out and relax whenever possible
- Get involved in activities such as reading a book, watching your favorite show, or doing some activities you enjoy.
- Figure out what is stressing you more, and try talking about it with your partner, a friend or even a therapist if needed.
- Seek support from family and friends ask them to take you to prenatal checkups or help you with the household chores.
- Go for childbirth education classes to understand about pregnancy, childbirth, relaxation techniques, and exercises.
- Get projects at work done earlier and avoid postponing them to the last moment to keep stress at bay.
- If you think you are depressed, go to therapy early on to avoid the need for antidepressants.
- Eat healthy and nutritious food.
- Consider joining a support group to meet like-minded pregnant women .
Learn more about stress and pregnancy next, where we address some commonly raised queries.
Premature Birth A Low Birth Weight And The Autism Spectrum
One meta-analysis a kind of study that analyzes the results of many other studies reported that while the overall prevalence of autism spectrum disorder lies below one percent in the general population, around seven percent of;people who were preterm infants when they are born are autistic. Other evidence suggests that low-birth weight babies also have autism in higher numbers.;
There are other possible explanations too, however. The same mechanism that leads to a preterm birth may also be linked to autism, and it’s also already known that injury to the;cerebellum a portion of the brain is common in both preterm infants and linked to higher odds of autism spectrum disorder.;
Immunologic And Neuroinflammatory Abnormalities
Analyses of post-mortem brain tissue of AD patients have found signs of neuroinflammatory activity in the cerebellum and cerebral cortex. Microglia were consistently activated in all brain regionsparticularly in the cerebellum, where a loss of neurons in the Purkinje cell layer and granule cell layer was apparent in 9 of the 10 AD brains. In addition, the cerebrospinal fluid of AD patients was found to have a unique proinflammatory profile of cytokines. Experiments with lab animals have reported that prenatal stress can produce lasting abnormalities in immune function, including neuroinflammation, in offspring. For example, found that adult rats that had been prenatally stressed showed decreased natural killer cell activity in splenic and blood lymphocytes, and decreased proliferation of splenic lymphocytes, compared to control rats.
In rhesus monkeys, prenatal exposure to either stress hormones or psychological stress of the mother by exposure to loud and unpredictable noises, produced significant abnormalities in postnatal immune function in both infancy and late childhood . Prenatal stressors caused disturbances in many immune responses, including proliferation of lymphocytes, natural killer cell activity, and production of cytokines, impairing the monkeys ability to fight off viral and bacterial infections. Prenatal stress also reduced the establishment of beneficial intestinal microflora and increased the risk of enteric infections .
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Thyroid Deficiencies In The Mother
Some studies have shown a correlation between hypothyroid conditions in pregnant woman and Autism diagnoses in their children. Women are determined to have an under active thyroid are 4 times as likely to have offspring diagnosed with Autism by the age of 6. The impact begins early on in pregnancy and the odds increase with the severity of the disorder. Thyroid deficiency during important windows of brain development has proven to be severely detrimental to the baby. It has been found that neural brain lesions mimicking Autism are noted in fetuses as early on as 6-18 into the pregnancy. Experts say that the connections cannot be determined as a direct cause of Autism, but the information could be useful in future diagnostic tests for the disorder during the gestation period. If parents know of probable likelihood of Autism in the first trimester, they can make better informed decisions about how to progress with pregnancy.
Reasons Autism Begins In Pregnancy
These days it is pretty hard to make sense of everything we see in the news and through social media. With so much contradictory information, inflamed personal views, misinterpretations, and assumptio
These days it is pretty hard to make sense of everything we see in the news and through social media. With so much contradictory information, inflamed personal views, misinterpretations, and assumptions about Autism and what causes, it can be easy to have our judgment clouded. Many of us are left wondering what the truth is and what isnt. While there are many beliefs and stigmas surrounding the definitive reasons that we are seeing an increase in Autism diagnosis, there has never been one single source identified as the culprit. According to experts in the field, there are many potential causes of Autism, but one thing that many of them have in common is a link between the disorder and pregnancy. Science is telling us in so many words, that Autism probably begins in the womb, in most cases.
The verdict is still out, about whether or not we can control, suppress, or even prevent the causes that are linked with Autism. The truth is, we just don´t know yet. But, if you are interested to know what medicine and science have unveiled about pregnancy and Autism, it is best to compile research from reputable sources like medical journals and scientific studies.
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Can Complications During Pregnancy Cause Autism
We should all, by now, be aware of what doesn’t cause autism. Vaccines, refrigerator mothers, poor-quality nutrition, infant sleep training, cell phone towers and televisions, and, let’s just throw random things like toothpicks, hot-housing, and cats in too, aren’t responsible for making someone neurodiverse or autistic.
But could complications during pregnancy increase the odds that a child will later turn out to be on the autism;spectrum, and could they even directly cause autism?;
Use Of Specific Prescription Drugs During Pregnancy
What is the truth about the prescription drugs we take during pregnancy? Could they be helping us but harming the baby? There are three major drugs that have direct links to Autism: they include a drug used in labor, a preventative drug for seizures, and certain Antidepressants. Terbetuline is a drug commonly used to stop premature labor. Babies exposed to it in the third trimester are 4 times as likely to be diagnosed with Autism. Pregnant women who are given Valporic Acid, a medication for preventing seizures, early in pregnancy during the formation of the neural tube, may be associated with Autism. The study has only been done on rats, but just one dose of the drug, resulted in changes to the brain that mimic those of people diagnosed with Autism. Now, for the Antidepressants. It is a widely held belief that antidepressant used during pregnancy is safe, but according to JAMA Pediatrics, women who take them are 87% more like to have a child with Autism as compared with women who did not. Researchers say that taking antidepressants is still not a proven cause of Autism, but it is correlated with it. Experts say that pregnant women should not stop being treated for depression, but if their symptoms are mild, it might prove beneficial to consider alternative non-drug treatments like psycho-therapy and exercise.
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Can Stress Affect Early Pregnancy
Stress during the first trimester is known to affect the microbial population in the mothers vagina. These are then passed onto babies during birth, thereby causing an impact on the metabolism and immune system of the infant. Altered gut microflora is also known to increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism .
Pregnancies Less Than A Year Apart
From the Study to Explore Early Development spacing out a second pregnancy in under 18 months can cause ASD. Doctors have always recommended keeping pregnancies spaced further apart.
This study can be found here. Its interesting reading, but it doesnt give any reasons why this is occurring, its basically statistics.
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So Pregnancy Complications May Increase The Odds Of Autism: What Does This All Mean
It means science is fascinating and learning more about emerging findings adds stuff to your knowledge bank that you constantly need to deposit new knowledge into to stay up to date.
It does not mean that the pregnancy complications studies have associated with a higher risk of autism are anyone’s fault, including, of course, the mother’s. In short, it doesn’t mean you are “to blame” for your child’s autism if you experienced vaginal bleeding or had a preterm labor. It does not mean you could have done anything differently. It doesn’t mean that you can “simply decide” to avoid these pregnancy complications as you try to conceive, like you would avoid alcohol or sushi. Most of the complications that were identified are not ones you can do an awful lot about.;
It doesn’t mean that pregnancy complications can cause autism on their own. All available evidence indicates that multiple factors have to come together for a person to be autistic.
- Agrawal S, Rao SC, Bulsara MK, et al. Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Preterm Infants: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2018 142 e20180134
Research On Related Effects Of Prenatal Stress
The existing evidence for significant effects of prenatal stress on postnatal behavior is robust. There are more than 100 experiments published in the scientific literature on the effects of prenatal stress in laboratory animals. There are also several dozen studies of humans, including several involving natural experiments. While an exhaustive review of all these studies is beyond the scope of this paper, several important and well-established general principles that are particularly pertinent to a possible role of prenatal stress in AD are described below.
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Hypersensitivity To Stress: An Important Vulnerability To Ad
The effect of prenatal stress on postnatal HPA-axis reactivity and sensitivity to stress is especially interesting, for two reasons. First, several studies have reported that hypersensitivity to stress is associated with AD. For example, found that AD children were more likely than control children to show HPA-axis hyperactivity in response to novel stimuli. This study examined changes in salivary cortisol and found that AD children showed elevations in cortisol following exposure to a novel non-social situation, whereas control children did not . found a tendency in children with high-functioning autism toward cortisol hypersecretion during the daytime hours. This effect was principally found in those children who were integrated into the normal school system, which the authors suggested indicates that the elevated cortisol secretion was a response to environmental stress.
Second, based on clinical work with AD children, has hypothesized that hypersensitivity in infants may be a crucial predisposing factor that causally contributes to the development of AD. Zelazo has proposed a developmental model of AD in which low stress tolerance in a young child leads to abnormal patterns of social avoidance and behavioral noncompliance, patterns which in turn disrupt child-caretaker interactions that are necessary for acquisition of social and language skills.