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What Causes Autism In The Womb

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More Hints That Dad’s Age At Conception Helps Shape A Child’s Brain

San Diego Research Suggests Autism Develops During Pregnancy

Courchesne suspected that these layers might be altered in the brains of children with autism. So he and a team of researchers studied samples of cortex from 11 children with autism and an equal number of typical kids. The cortex came from areas known to be associated with the symptoms of autism.

In the brain tissue from typical children, the cortex had six distinct layers, each made up of a specific type of cell. But in the children with autism, “there are patches in which specific cells in specific layers seem to be missing,” Courchesne says. So instead of distinct layers, there are disorganized collections of brain cells.

These patches of disorganized cortex would have different effects on the brain depending on where they occur and how many there are, Courchesne says. That could help explain why the symptoms of autism vary so much.

And finding that the damage isn’t everywhere suggests how a child’s brain might compensate by rewiring to avoid the trouble spots, Courchesne says. “That’s one of our guesses about how it is that autistic children, with treatment, very commonly get better,” he says.

A Johns Hopkins Study Analyzing Umbilical Cord Blood Samples Found That Newborns With The Highest Exposure To Acetaminophen Were About Three Times More Likely To Be Diagnosed With Adhd Or Autism Spectrum Disorder In Childhood

A new study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that exposure to acetaminophen in the womb may increase a child’s risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism spectrum disorder.

The researchers analyzed data from the Boston Birth Cohort, a 20-year study of early life factors influencing pregnancy and child development. They found that children whose cord blood samples contained the highest levels of acetaminophenthe generic name for the drug Tylenolwere roughly three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD or autism spectrum disorder later in childhood, compared to children with the lowest levels of acetaminophen in their cord blood.

Their findings were published last week in JAMA Psychiatry.

“People in general believe Tylenol is benign, and it can be used safely for headaches, fever, aches, and pains,” says Xiaobin Wang, a professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health and the study’s corresponding author. “Our study further supports the concerns raised by previous studiesthat there is a link between Tylenol use during pregnancy and increased risk for autism or ADHD.”

Understanding autism

Related coverage of what scientists know about autismand what they’re still working to discover

Autistic Boys Exposed To Higher Levels Of Hormones In Womb Study Finds

Research on children in Denmark has found that boys with autism were more likely to have been exposed to higher levels of hormones in their mother’s wombs than those who developed normally.

Boys diagnosed with autism and related disorders had, on average, raised levels of testosterone, cortisol and other hormones in the womb, according to analyses of amniotic fluid that was stored after their mothers had medical tests during pregnancy.

The findings add to a growing body of evidence that the biological foundations of autism are laid down well before birth and involve factors that go beyond the child’s genetic make-up.

The results may help scientists to unravel some of the underlying causes of autism and explain why boys are four to five times more likely to be diagnosed with the condition, which affects around one percent of the population.

Amniotic fluid surrounds babies in the womb and contains hormones and other substances that they have passed through their urine. The liquid is collected for testing when some women have an amniocentesis around four months into their pregnancy.

“In the womb, boys produce about twice as much testosterone as girls, but compared with typical boys, the autism group has even higher levels. It’s a significant difference and may have a large effect on brain development,” said Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.

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Fetuses Of Momm3m4 Have Increased Neuronal Loss Lack Of Astrocyte And Microglia Maturation Compared To Fetuses From Momwt

RNA sequencing of the fetal brain showed that 10/91 differentially expressed genes were those involved in Ca2+ or cation channel function indicating potential neuronal pathology in Fetusm3m4 from Momm3m4 . Ingenuity pathway analysis of MomWTFetusm3m4 vs. Momm3m4Fetusm3m4 fetal brain differential transcriptomes revealed cell death and survival, neuron development and apoptosis and seizures as the topmost Disease and Function pathologies . Reduced immunohistochemistry staining for NeuN showed a significant decrease in mature neurons in the brain of Momm3m4Fetusm3m4 compared to MomWTFetusm3m4 . In addition, significantly reduced Doublecortin staining in Momm3m4Fetusm3m4 compared to MomWTFetusm3m4 suggested loss of neurons in pups undergoing gestation in Momm3m4 consistent with our RNA-Seq findings . In correlation, serotonin staining was significantly decreased in Momm3m4Fetusm3m4 compared to MomWTFetusm3m4 .

Fig. 4: Increased neuronal loss and lack of glial cell maturation in Fetusm3m4 undergoing gestation in Momm3m4 compared to those in MomWT.Fig. 5: Schematic summarizing the effect of maternal genetics on fetal neurodevelopmental processes.

The impact of maternal genotype on in-utero gene transcription in the offspring is evident in fetal neuropathology and postnatal ASD-like behavior.

What Should I Do If I Think My Child Might Have Early Signs Of Autism

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If your child has exhibited early signs of autism, talk to your pediatrician. He or she can use a standardized screening tool to determine if your child has autism or is at risk.

While there is no cure for autism, early intervention can make a big difference. Behavioral therapies can help kids develop social and language skills, for example, and medications can treat impulsive behavior and hyperactivity.

If you havent spotted any of these symptoms but are still worried your child has autism, try not to let your fears get in the way of enjoying your time with your son. Pay attention to his behavior patterns , and ask questions of your pediatrician. Chances are he’s just fine!

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Did You Know That Autism Can Start Haunting Your Child When He Is Inside You Know All About What Leads To This Condition Before Birth And How You Can Prevent It

Written by Sreemoyee Chatterjee | Updated : July 21, 2018 2:33 PM IST

While a mother’s womb is generally considered to be the safest place in this universe, recent studies have proved otherwise. Autism Spectrum Disorder , a neurological disorder impacting normal brain development and affecting the areas of social interaction and communication skills, can develop right in the womb, say researchers of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

While studying the donated brain tissue samples of dead children, clusters of disorganised cells have been found in brain areas responsible for managing social functioning, emotions and communications. These are the activities that get worst hit and disoriented among autistic children. According to the scientists, these clusters were a result of defects that occurred during the second or third trimesters of pregnancy.

Why autism begins before birth: The contributing factors

Not Getting Carried Away

Study co-author Alex Tsompanidis, a PhD student, said: These elevated hormones could be coming from the mother, the baby or the placenta. Our next step should be to study all these possible sources and how they interact during pregnancy.

Dr James Findon, a lecturer in psychology education at Kings College London, said: This a scientifically robust study, but we need to see replication in an independent cohort to really trust the results. There is hardly any work on prenatal oestrogen in autism, so while this is a good first step, we have to be cautious and not get carried away.

This novel study gives us an interesting insight into the role of sex hormones as a potential cause of autism. However, it cannot and should not be interpreted as a way to screen for autism. Furthermore, as the study only looked at males, we do not know if the results are also true of females with the condition.

It is unknown exactly how prenatal sex steroid hormones may impact neurodevelopment. But this study lays the groundwork for future studies to investigate this relationship further.


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Who Is At Risk

Autism tends to occur more frequently than expected among individuals who have certain medical conditions, including Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, congenital rubella syndrome, and untreated phenylketonuria . It is four times more common in boys than girls but is found equally in all other populations.

Discovery Adds Further Evidence To Support The Prenatal Sex Steroid Theory Of Autism First Proposed 20 Years Ago

Scientists Hone In On The Risk Factors That Can Cause Autism | CNBC

High levels of oestrogen in the womb could cause autism, a new study has found. The discovery, by University of Cambridge scientists and researchers in Denmark, adds further evidence to support the prenatal sex steroid theory of autism first proposed 20 years ago.

The team measured the levels of four prenatal steroid hormones, including two known as androgens, in the amniotic fluid in the womb and discovered that they were higher in male foetuses who later developed autism.

These androgens are produced in higher quantities in male than in female foetuses on average, so might also explain why autism occurs more often in boys. They are also known to masculinise parts of the brain, and to have effects on the number of connections between brain cells.

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Starting in the 1990s, we demonstrated that prenatal exposure to several pathogens including rubella, influenza and toxoplasmosis are related to risk of schizophrenia, he said of his own research. In more recent work, we showed that prenatal influenza was related to bipolar disorder.

Brown believes the new study provides more evidence for relationships between prenatal infection and autism and opens up a potential new avenue of exploration regarding prenatal infection and depression.

McCarthy said, I dont think pregnant women should panic. Try to avoid any kind of infection avoid it if you can, and if you do have to treat it, treat it judiciously.

Can An Epidural Increase Autism Risk

A 2014 French study conducted on mice and published in the journal Science suggests that the use of spinal anesthesia during labor results in higher concentrations of chloride or salt in the brains of newborn mice. The authors hypothesize that this may increase the risk of autism in humans.

High chloride levels are essential to a baby’s brain development while in utero. During labor and delivery, a baby is exposed to oxytocin, the hormone that brings on contractions. Oxytocin acts as a diuretic and naturally lowers an infant’s chloride levels. Researchers believe epidurals may interfere with the release of oxytocin causing chloride levels to remain high after birth.

The study seems to support earlier findings from a 2012 clinical trial of 60 children with autism who saw some improvements in their behaviors after taking a diuretic that lowered their chloride levels. However, the Science study on epidurals and chloride was conducted solely on mice. While animal studies are important, the findings don’t always translate to people.

“For one thing, animals don’t have symptoms of autism in the same way that people do,” says Susan Hyman, M.D., division chief of neurodevelopmental and behavioral pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council of Children with Disabilities Autism Subcommittee.

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Momsm3m4 Lack Induction Of An Il

To define what constitutes a predisposing maternal genotype, we first interrogated the currently most well-recognized parental factor associated with ASD-like behavior, i.e., the maternal inflammatory state. Our recent studies show that naïve, nonparous PtenWT/m3m4 mice do not have ongoing inflammation or autoimmunity but are predisposed to higher immune reactivity only upon stimulation. To analyze the immunological status of PtenWT/m3m4 mice in a state of pregnancy, cytokine expression/levels were tested in the spleen of pregnant females at E17.5 by qRT-PCR. No differences in proinflammatory cytokine transcript expression were observed between Momm3m4 and MomWT indicating a lack of ongoing inflammation . In addition, testing for IL-17a showed no transcripts in the spleen from either genotype. Multiplex serum ELISA for G-CSF, GM-CSF, IFN, IL-1, IL-1, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, LIF, IL-15, IL-17, KC, MCP-1, M-CSF, MIP-2, TNF-, also showed no differences between Momm3m4 and MomWT, except in IL-10 levels .

Fig. 2: Momsm3m4 lack induction of an IL-10 mediated immunosuppressive state during pregnancy that correlates with decreased expression of complement in the fetus.

Exposure To Good Bacteria During Pregnancy Buffers Risk Of Autism

Can Air Pollution Impact Baby in the Womb?
Animal study suggests prenatal exposure to microbes can counteract stress and influence brain development

Inoculation with Mycobacterium Vaccae, pictured here, had beneficial impacts on the neurodevelopment of offspring, a new animal study shows.

Newswise Giving beneficial bacteria to stressed mothers during the equivalent of the third trimester of pregnancy prevents an autism-like disorder in their offspring, according to a new animal study by University of Colorado Boulder researchers.

The study, published this month in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, marks the latest in a series of studies in animals and humans suggesting that exposure to certain immune-modulating microbes can dampen inflammation, positively impacting the brain and central nervous system.

Its among the first studies to suggest that such exposures during pregnancy influence neurodevelopment of a fetus and, while far more research is necessary, could open the door to new prenatal interventions.

It suggests that you could develop microbial interventions that lower the risk of neurodevelopmental syndromes like autism, said co-author Christopher Lowry, an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology.

In humans, research has long shown that maternal stress during pregnancy prompts systemic inflammation in both the mother and fetus and is a risk factor for autism, said senior author Daniel Barth, a professor of psychology and neuroscience.

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Autism And Depression Not Bipolar Disorder

Adams Waldorf and her colleagues analyzed patient data from Swedens national health registry, specifically looking at information for the entire population of pregnant women that were hospitalized between 1973 and 2014, she said. And then we had up to 41 years of follow-up on those children that stayed in Sweden.

In total, they looked at the records of 1,791,520 children and, using hospitalization codes, identified those whod been exposed to their mothers infection in utero.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The results, Adams Waldorf said, were very surprising.

Children born to mothers with an infection during pregnancy had a 79% increased risk of an autism diagnosis anda 24% increased risk of a depression diagnosis as adults, the researchers found. They also saw an increased risk of suicide in those children that had been exposed to infections in utero, Adams Waldorf said, adding that this association made the depression findings much stronger.

The increased risk level for autism and depression was detected regardless of whether fetal exposure was to a severe infection such as sepsis, flu, pneumonia, meningitis or encephalitis, chorioamnionitis or pyelonephritis or a urinary tract infection.

Pregnancy Factors And Autism

Fraternal twins share the same womb, even though they don’t share identical genes. That could be important, said Dr. John Constantino of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who wasn’t involved in the new research.

“Finding so many fraternal twin pairs in whom both twins have autism spectrum disorders is a key finding that puts a spotlight on pregnancy as a time when environmental factors might exert their effects,” Constantino said.

Those factors could include stress, diet, infections, a mother’s age and medications, experts said. The new study didn’t try to determine what factors increase risk.

The study was funded by grants from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and Autism Speaks, an advocacy group.

In another study published Monday in the same journal, researchers found a higher risk of autism among children born to mothers who took antidepressants during the year before birth, particularly in the first three months of pregnancy.

It’s too early to advise pregnant women against antidepressants, however. Untreated depression also can be harmful to mother and baby, said lead author Lisa Croen of the Autism Research Program at Kaiser Permanente, a large health maintenance organization in California.

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Are There Treatments Options Available

There is no cure for autism, but many treatments are available that may ameliorate some of the more challenging aspects of the disorder. Education can help parents learn to deal with their childs behavioral and emotional concerns, and will allow them to train their child to live a more independent lifestyle. However, it is important to remember that all autistic children are different, and no single treatment will work for all children.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Autism

Early Diagnosis and Treating Autism – On Our Mind

A higher risk of having a child on the autism spectrum is associated with several pregnancy-related issues. Some of these, such as the use of certain pharmaceuticals during pregnancy, can be managed to reduce the risk. Others, however, are difficult, if not impossible, to change.

Its important to remember that an association is not the same thing as a cause. For example, it’s a fact that preterm babies are more likely to have autism than full-term babies, but it’s not known exactly why. The reasons may actually relate more to genetics or to socioeconomic factors than to the behaviors of the birth parent.

This article will discuss the pregnancy-related risk factors for autism, with a look at which factors are supported by the most evidence, which have weaker associations, and what you can do to reduce the risk.

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