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What Causes Autism In Utero

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Prenatal Exposure To Viral And Bacterial Illnesses

What causes autism? | World Autism Awareness Week [CC]

You may or may not have heard this one before that getting sick during pregnancy can up the odds of an Autism diagnosis in your baby. This information has been around for quite awhile now that when infections stimulate the central nervous system of the mother, her immune response might trigger an alteration in the unborn baby. While some might assume that a more serious illness is needed, that is not necessarily true. The main causes for concern are viral infections during the first trimester, and bacterial infections in the second trimester. The highest threat arises when the mother is sick enough to be hospitalized in the 2nd or 3rd trimester. The biggest culprits are the flu, the herpes virus, congenital rubella, and borne disease. When we see rubella, we often think of the MMR vaccine and the ongoing debate over a link between Autism and the scheduled shot. Direct evidence that the vaccine could cause Autism has not been found. It is still unknown whether the risk for Rubella is still present when the mother is exposed to live vaccines.

Preventing Autism In Pregnancy: Is It Possible

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex condition, affecting 1 in 68 children. But can it be prevented during pregnancy? Experts weigh in on the latest research.

Experts are still trying to piece together what factors contribute to the development of autism. Recent research suggests that changes that occur during conception, pregnancy, and possibly even delivery may increase the risk of autism in children who are genetically predisposed to the disorder.;

One study;in the;New England Journal of Medicine;found differences in the brains of children with autism as early as the second trimester of pregnancy. While researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint a definite cause, ASD likely develops from a combination of factors. “Some cases may primarily have a genetic cause, and others may have a primarily environmental cause, but most cases probably result from the interaction of both,” says Paul Wang, M.D., senior vice president of medical research for;Autism Speaks.

While you can’t do much to change genetics, you;can;alter your exposure to certain environmental factors that have shown a link to ASD. However, none of these lifestyle changes are absolutesexperts can’t tell you that lowering your exposure to one particular factor will lower;your;child’s risk.

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Could A Virus Cause Autism

by Virginia Hughes;/;28 March 2011

Strong swimmers:;Sperm move like motorboats through the vaginal tract, and viruses may hop aboard.

For some individuals, autism begins at conception, when an infected sperm cell transmits a virus to the egg: that is the provocative new hypothesis of a group in Italy based on data from brain tissue and semen.

Last year, Antonio Persico and colleagues reported that traces of polyomaviruses a family of common viruses that can cause tumors are more likely to crop up in postmortem brain tissue of individuals with autism than in that of healthy controls1. In unpublished work, the researchers have also found that seminal fluid from fathers of children with autism is more likely to carry polyomavirus than is fluid from fathers of healthy children.

How a sperm might transmit a virus, and how the virus would then cause autism is unclear, which makes some experts deeply skeptical.

Its something that may serve as pioneering work, but needs to be completed, notes S. Hossein Fatemi, professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota.

If its true, however, the theory could explain the missing heritability puzzle of autism. Autism has a strong genetic component: identical twins are much more likely to both have the disorder than are fraternal twins. Yet, so far, researchers have identified relatively few DNA variants to account for this genetic risk.

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Maintaining A Nutritious Diet

Pregnant women can lower the risk for autism by eating a colorful, organic diet rich in green vegetables and fruits containing antioxidants. At least 80 grams of protein per day from lean sources like turkey, chicken, and nuts is recommended. Many health experts support reducing white foods, including bread and sugar. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggest soon-to-be mothers take 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid. Increasing intake of Vitamin D has been linked to better neurological development in fetuses. Pregnant women should also drink eight glasses of filtered water, limit mercury levels from fish, and increase omega-3s. A modest weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy is optimal.

Valproic Acid During Pregnancy

Study: Extremely Premature Babies at Greater Risk for ...

Seizures are electrical storms within the brain, and they’re life-threatening for pregnant women and the babies they carry. Valproic acid is an anti-seizure medication, and it could be part of a woman’s treatment plan. However, this drug could cause an increase in autism risks.

In a large study conducted in 2015, researchers found risks of autism were significantly increased when women took valproic acid during pregnancy. These results have been replicated in studies performed with animals.

For now, it’s best for women with seizure disorders to work with their doctors on treatment plans before they get pregnant. Another solution could help them reduce their risk of episodes while protecting their child’s developing brain.

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When Does Autism Develop

Autism prevention begins before your baby is born. While autism research is ongoing, most experts agree that the disorder begins within the womb.

The drugs and chemicals a woman takes into her body can change the environment for her growing baby. Sometimes, those shifts can cause autism changes.

Experts say exposure to toxic chemicals during pregnancy can spark gene mutations. Those changes can alter the way the brain develops in a fetus. The damage can’t be corrected after birth, and it persists throughout the child’s life.

During pregnancy, a child’s brain produces 250,000 neurons a minute. Anything that alters those connections can change your baby’s brain in ways that persist. You may not notice any adjustments until long after your baby is born, but the damage is there. When your child fails to talk or walk later in life, you’ll suspect that something happened.

Researchers say MRI scans of children as young as 1 year old can detect autism alterations. Doctors don’t typically diagnose the disorder until much later when a child has grown and changed, but the problem exists long before signs appear.

When we talk about avoiding toxic drugs and chemicals, we should focus on a mom’s health during pregnancy. By the time a child is born, it might be too late to change the child’s developing brain. The choices a mom makes while she carries her child could help to lower the odds of autism.

Prenatal Exposure To Environmental Pollution

Information released by Harvard states that pregnant who are exposed to air pollution in the third trimester are twice as likely to have a child with Autism, as compared to women who were not exposed. The study compared 116,000 pregnancy women from all 50 states. The variables that were compiled included where the women lived during their pregnancy as well as pollution levels in that area as provided by the EPA . Levels of PM2.5 or fine particulate matter were noted in 245 children diagnosed with Autism. The comparisons were made before, during, and after pregnancy. Exposure during pregnancy and especially in the third trimester posed a significantly increased risk with diagnosis. The evidence is quite convincing that maternal exposure to air pollutants is a huge risk factor for offspring Autism. Researchers hope that the information will be useful in considering ways to prevent the disorder.

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Children Who Later Develop Autism Are Exposed To Elevated Levels Of Steroid Hormones In The Womb According To Scientists From The University Of Cambridge And The Statens Serum Institute In Copenhagen Denmark The Finding May Help Explain Why Autism Is More Common In Males Than Females However The Researchers Caution It Should Not Be Used To Screen For The Condition

This is one of the earliest non-genetic biomarkers that has been identified in children who go on to develop autism

Simon Baron-Cohen

The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. If you use this content on your site please link back to this page. For image rights, please see the credits associated with each individual image.

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

What Causes Autism?

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

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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.

New Research On Autism And Our Environment

Sex hormones, medications, certain metals such as lead, pesticides, and chemicals used to make plastic hard or pliable have long been suspected of having a role in autism.; They have not been proven to cause autism, but these are known to trigger or worsen other health problems, including some that affect the brain.; Many studies have shown that chemical exposures during development in the womb can have much more serious health effects than the same exposures would in adults.

A large 2014 study investigated the connection between autism and genital malformations using health insurance claims from almost a third of the U.S. population. Like autism, genital malformations are increasing: cases of undescended testicle increased 200% between 1970 and 1993, and the percentage of boys born with a deformity of the penis known as hypospadia doubled. ;;Many studies have shown that these malformations are more common among children whose mothers have high levels of chemicals that affect the hormones in their bodies, such as phthalates which are found in cleaning products, medicines, and personal care products like shampoos and creams The link between these chemicals and genital malformations has surfaced in other studies, particularly those involving women in professions that require working daily with these chemicals.

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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.

Growing Number Of Pregnant Women Using Marijuana

Autism: Signs, Symptoms and How to Deal with Autism

We know that cannabinoids can cross placental tissue and enter the fetal bloodstream, Corsi said. There are cannabinoid receptors present in the developing fetus and exposure to cannabis may impact the wiring of the developing brain.

While its known that substance use in pregnant women can affect a fetuss neurodevelopment, the question of whether cannabis use is a risk factor for autism has not been thoroughly investigated, Daniele Fallin, director of the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in an email.

Fallin, who was not involved with the new research, said that the observational study cannot prove that cannabis use by pregnant women causes autism. This is an interesting first step, but much more work is needed to implicate maternal cannabis use specifically in autism risk, she added.

To take a closer look at possible neurodevelopmental impacts of cannabis on developing fetuses, Corsi and his colleagues reviewed data from all Ontario births that occurred from 2007 to 2012, which was before the drug was legalized in Canada. Their final analysis included 503,065 children, 3,148 of whom had mothers who used cannabis while pregnant.

When the researchers accounted for factors that might skew their results, they found that the risk of autism was increased by 50 percent when mothers used cannabis during pregnancy.

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Diagnosis Of Autism: What We Do Know

Autistic children benefit from early diagnosis, preferably in the first two years of life.; Early diagnosis allows behavioral therapy or other treatments to begin early when it seems to be most effective.; If you are concerned about your child, talk to your doctor about a referral to see a specialist who can help determine if follow-up is needed.; Signs of autism may include symptoms such as:

  • no babbling or pointing by age 1
  • no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
  • no response to name
  • loss of language or social skills
  • poor eye contact

Reducing Exposure To Toxins

The scientific community has discovered evidence that environmental factors often play a role in developing autism. One Harvard study found that children born to mothers exposed to high pollution levels had twice the risk of ASD. Pregnant women can limit airborne toxins by wearing masks, filling their gas tank after dark, and staying indoors when air quality is low. Its best to avoid areas with high traffic, especially when exercising. For the duration of pregnancy, women should eliminate alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. Switching to green personal care products is wise to lessen exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Some doctors also suggest avoiding canned foods, plastic water bottles, and excessive cell phone use.

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Autism ‘begins Long Before Birth’

Scientists say they have new evidence that autism begins in the womb.

Patchy changes in the developing brain long before birth may cause symptoms of autism spectrum disorder , research suggests.

The study, in the New England Journal of Medicine, raises hopes that better understanding of the brain may improve the lives of children with autism.

It reinforces the need for early identification and treatment, says a University of California team.

US scientists analysed post-mortem brain tissue of 22 children with and without autism, all between two and 15 years of age.

They used genetic markers to look at how the outermost part of the brain, the cortex, wired up and formed layers.

Abnormalities were found in 90% of the children with autism compared with only about 10% of children without.

The changes were dotted about in brain regions involved in social and emotional communication, and language, long before birth, they say.

The researchers, from the University of California, San Diego and the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, say their patchy nature may explain why some toddlers with autism show signs of improvement if treated early enough.

They think the plastic infant brain may have a chance of rewiring itself to compensate.

“The finding that these defects occur in patches rather than across the entirety of cortex gives hope as well as insight about the nature of autism,” said Prof Eric Courchesne, a neuroscientist at the University of California San Diego.

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