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Research by Topic: Mothers
Though neither ASD nor DD was associated with influenza, both were associated with maternal fever during pregnancy. However, the fever-associated ASD risk was attenuated among mothers who reported taking antipyretic medications but remained elevated for those who did not.
Mothers of children with autism are significantly less likely to report taking iron supplements before and during their pregnancies than the mothers of children who are developing normally, a study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute has found. Low iron intake was associated with a five-fold greater risk of autism in the child if the mother was 35 or older at the time of the child’s birth or if she suffered from metabolic conditions such as obesity hypertension or diabetes. The research is the first to examine the relationship between maternal iron intake and having a child with autism spectrum disorder.
Across the country and around the world, children are getting sick and dying from preventable diseasesin part because some parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children. Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation, and Dr. Amy Middleman, Adolescent Medicine Specialist at the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center, examine the science behind vaccinations, the return of preventable diseases, and the risks of opting out. Theyre both featured in the PBS NOVA documentary VaccinesCalling The Shots, which airs September 10, at 9 pm, on PBS.
A study out of the University of California Davis found that women who live near farmland where pesticides are applied are 60 percent more likely to give birth to a child with autism or other developmental delays. In the study, the association was stronger for women exposed during their second or third trimester. The study looked at three categories of pesticides: organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates; all three were found to have associations with ASD or other developmental delays.
In the past, studies have raised concern about an association between the use of a certain type of antidepressant known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy and an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders in the child. A new study now shows no significant association between maternal use of SSRIs during pregnancy and autism spectrum disorder in the child. However, the children were at a higher than usual risk of being diagnosed with autism if their mother had taken the drugs for depression or anxiety prior to the pregnancy, suggesting a possible link between the mother’s preexisting mental health condition and the child’s development of an ASD.
New research from the University of Utah and published in the journal Pediatrics has uncovered an association between autism spectrum disorders and a small increase in the amount of weight a mother gains during pregnancy. These findings suggest that weight gain during pregnancy is not the cause of ASD but rather may reflect an underlying process that it shares with autism spectrum disorders, such as abnormal hormone levels or inflammation.
A research group exploring the hypothesis that certain maternal antibodies can impair fetal brains has partnered with a company to develop a test for predicting whether a woman will have a child with autism. The antibodies, they claim, could account for up to a quarter of all autism cases. But other autism scientists are skeptical that the evidence is strong enough to make such a claim, or to consider an autism test based on the antibodies.
A study from the Houston Methodist Neurological Institute and Erasmus Medical Centre discovered that mothers who do not produce enough of a thyroid hormone, thyroxine, are nearly four times more likely to have a child with autism. In the past, this hormone has been shown to be important in the migration of fetal brain cells during embryo development.
Problematic Antibodies Affecting Brain Development During Pregnancy Could Help Explain 1/4 of Cases of AutismPublished July 9, 2013 in Translational Psychiatry
Antibodies found almost exclusively in mothers with children who have autism have a certain anitbody that may be affecting brain development during pregnancy. The same study says that these antibodies could account for nearly 1/4 of all cases of autism.
This study shows that parents who have children with ASD show significantly higher levels of fatigue when compared to mothers of typically developing children. The study argues the need for interventions that specifically target maternal fatigue.
Guest blogger Marcela De Vivo shares insight on some of the difficulties immigrant families face when getting help for their child with autism in this week’s ASF blog post.
Ad Campaign Uses New Approach to Promote Early Autism Recognition in African-American and Hispanic FamiliesPublished May 20, 2013 in The New York Times
ASF President Alison Singer is featured in this article on how parent advocates help advance autism research.
Trophoblast Inclusions Are Significantly Increased in the Placentas of Children in Families at Risk for AutismPublished April 25, 2013 in Biological Psychiatry
Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have figured out how to measure an infant’s risk of developing autism by looking for abnormalities in his/her placenta at birth, allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment for the developmental disorder.
This study examined the relationship between maternal childhood abuse and autism in children in a large population-based sample. Maternal abuse was significantly associated with increased autism risk even after researchers controlled for perinatal risk factors, including gestational diabetes, smoking during pregnancy, preeclampsia, exposure to intimate partner violence and premature birth.
A mother with two sons with autism helps advance research on neuroligin-4 mutations.
Autism researchers and advocates are concerned about changes to the recruitment strategy of the National Childrens Study, which aims to enroll 100,000 pregnant women, monitor environmental exposures, and examine gene-environment interactions in the women and their children. The changes, which include forgoing door-to-door recruitment, may limit the generalizability of the findings.
Read this new guest post from Theresa Waldron, author of www.healthsnark.com, on the possible link between prenatal folic acid and autism.
Association between maternal use of folic acid supplements and risk of autism spectrum disorders in childrenPublished February 13, 2013 in Journal of the American Medical Association
The goal of this study was to determine the relationship between the use of prenatal folic acid supplements and presence of autism spectrum disorders in offspring. The study concluded that the use of prenatal folic acid supplements around the time fo conception was associated with a lower risk of autism spectrum disorders. These findings support […]
Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Children With Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities: Associations With Ethnicity, Child Comorbid Symptoms, and Parental StressPublished January 30, 2013 in Journal of Child Neurology
Families of children with ASD and other comorbid symptoms, including behavioral problems such as irritability and food allergies, were more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine, and they were more likely to use more types of modalities as compared to families of children with other developmental disabilities.
Large national birth cohort study links elevated maternal C-reactive protein (a marker of systemic inflammation) to increased autism risk.
Prenatal Versus Postnatal Sex Steroid Hormone Effects on Autistic Traits in Children at 18 to 24 Months of AgePublished December 11, 2012 in Molecular Autism
Cambridge researchers are investigating the link between pre- and postnatal hormone levels and autistic traits later in life.
Study examines potential links between maternal infections during pregnancy and autism. The chief of the CDC’s Developmental Disabilities Branch says “for now, the standard clinical recommendations for treating pregnant women suffering from fever or flu should not change as a result of [these] new preliminary findings.”
“A variety prenatal insults are associated with the incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and cerebral palsy. While the precise mechanisms underlying how transient gestational challenges can lead to later life dysfunctions are largely unknown, the placenta is likely to play a key role. The literal interface between maternal and fetal cells resides in the placenta, and disruptions to the maternal or intrauterine environment are necessarily conveyed to the developing embryo via the placenta. Placental cells bear the responsibility of promoting maternal tolerance of the semiallogeneic fetus and regulating selective permeability of nutrients, gases, and antibodies, while still providing physiological protection of the embryo from adversity. The placenta’s critical role in modulating immune protection and the availability of nutrients and endocrine factors to the offspring implicates its involvement in autoimmunity, growth restriction and hypoxia, all factors associated with the development of neurological complications. In this review, we summarize primary maternal-fetal interactions that occur in the placenta and describe pathways by which maternal insults can impair these processes and disrupt fetal brain development. We also review emerging evidence for placental dysfunction in the prenatal programming of neurodevelopmental disorders.”
Results of this study show that while children of migrant parents are at an increased risk of low-functioning autism, they are at a decreased risk for high-functioning autism. Researchers call for further research to determine if environmental factors associated with migration influence the development of autism.
“Increasing evidence highlights a role for the immune system in the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as immune dysregulation is observed in the brain, periphery, and gastrointestinal tract of ASD individuals. Furthermore, maternal infection (maternal immune activation, MIA) is a risk factor for ASD. Modeling this risk factor in mice yields offspring with the cardinal behavioral and neuropathological symptoms of human ASD.”
According to a study published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, Women who have a milder version of the fragile X mutation, which can lead to the full mutation in their children, have some features of autism.
“Early identification of autism has become a national priority but, despite efforts, there are children who are being identified at a later age. In this study, children of Hispanic and African American origin, foreign-born children, and children born to foreign mothers were more likely to be diagnosed later.”
According to a new study from the University of California at Davis, moms who had a fever from any cause during pregnancy were more than twice as likely to have a child with autism or another developmental delay, when compared with moms who did not run fever during pregnancy. Moms who had the flu during pregnancy were not at greater risk for having children with autism or another developmental delay.
Interesting article about the financial impacts of autism on American families from The Atlantic.
A new study in the journal Pediatrics suggests that moms who are obese or have diabetes are more likely to have a child with autism or another developmental problem.
Three teams of scientists working independently to understand the biology of autism have for the first time homed in on several gene mutations that they agree sharply increase the chances that a child will develop the disorder, and have found further evidence that the risk increases with the age of the parents, particularly the father.
For many families, the quest for the causes of autism has grown more urgent with the news that the estimated prevalence of the condition grew by 23% from 2006 to 2008, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report said last week.
On average, families with a child who has autism earn 28% less than those of a child without a health limitation; nearly $18,000 less per year.
Children with autism spectrum disorders who also have serious behavioral problems responded better to medication combined with training for their parents than to treatment with medication alone, Yale researchers and their colleagues report in the February issue of Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
Older maternal and paternal age are jointly associated with having a child with autism, according to a recently published study led by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).
As a psychiatrist and the parent of an adult son with autism, I found In Treating Disabled, Potent Drugs and Few Rules (front page, Dec. 23) to be unfair and detrimental to the families of the developmentally disabled. Although any medication can be inappropriately administered, the wholesale denigration of psychotropic medication for this population is misplaced.
Public spending on children with autism in California varies greatly by race and class. A major reason: Not all families have the means to battle for coveted assistance.
Children exposed to the epilepsy drug valproate have a nearly three times higher risk of having an autism spectrum disorder, new research finds.
Having A Child With Autism Linked To Genetic Variant And Autoantibodies: Finding May Lead To Screening TestPublished October 20, 2011 in Medical News Today
A study by researchers at UC Davis has found that pregnant women with a particular gene variation are more likely to produce autoantibodies to the brains of their developing fetuses and that the children of these mothers are at greater risk of later being diagnosed with autism.
Autism is far more common in low-birth-weight babies than the general population, researchers are reporting, a significant finding that nevertheless raises more questions than it answers and illustrates how little is known about a group of disorders that affect nearly 1 percent of American children.
This study examined mouse neuronal cells during pregnancy to discover how the drug actually interferes at a molecular level with prostaglandins, which are important for development and communication of cells in the brain.
Researchers at the University of Southern California examined the association between autism and proximity of residence to freeways and major roadways during pregnancy and near the time of delivery, as a surrogate for air pollution exposure. Using the mother’s address recorded on the birth certificate and trimester-specific addresses derived from a residential history, measures of […]
Toddlers who played with a limited number of toys showed more improvement in their communication skills following parent-guided treatment than those receiving other community-based treatments.
Behavior Breakthroughs, an interactive program developed by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), uses game-based technology and 3-D imagery to help train people who work with children and adults with behavioral problems.
Medical journalist recaps his struggle to determine if vaccinations caused his son to be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome concluding that it would not have made the slightest bit of difference if we had refused to vaccinate when our son was small, claiming any conspiracy theories are not based on any compelling data.
This study, performed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed the level of gene expression in children with autism, compared with a control group. The researchers hypothesized that the variability in the pattern of the overall of gene expression levels would be associated with variability in hippocampal-dependent behaviors, which include short-term memory and spatial […]
This study examined the rates of autism according to maternal immigrant status and ethnic origins based on the vitamin D insufficiency hypothesis, which proposes that maternal vitamin D insufficiency during pregnancy could be associated with autism. The study provided further support to the association between maternal immigrant status and an increased risk of autism. In […]
Smoking during pregnancy may interfere with brain development. New animal research shows maternal smoking affects genes important in the formation and action of a fatty brain substance called myelin that insulates brain cell connections. The finding may explain why the children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy are more likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, autism, drug abuse, and other psychiatric disorders.
Studies have suggested associations between immune response and idiopathic disorders (such as autism). This study explores associations between parental autoimmune disorders and children's diagnosis of autism by linking. The study found associations between parental autoimmune disorders and autism spectrum disorders, suggesting parental autoimmune disorders may represent a pathway that warrants more detailed investigation.
Insight into the role that MHC plays in the nervous system and may enhance our understanding of the factors that can contribute to neuropsychiatric disorders like autism and schizophrenia. Increased levels of a protein called major histocompatibility complex, or MHC, in fetal neurons may be a factor development of autism or schizophrenia.
A pregnant woman’s immune response to viral infections may induce subtle neurological changes in the unborn child that can lead to an increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders including schizophrenia and autism.
Full-term neonates with jaundice are at greatly increased risk of later being diagnosed with a disorder of psychological development, a Danish study found. Neonatal jaundice typically is caused by increased bilirubin production and inadequate liver excretory function. Recent research has suggested that even moderate bilirubin exposure in very young children can be harmful, possibly leading to impairments in their development. They found that jaundice was more common among boys, infants born preterm, infants with congenital malformations, and low-birthweight infants.
For more than a century, clinical investigators have focused on early life as a source of adult psychopathology. Although the hypothesized mechanisms have evolved, a central notion remains: early life is a period of unique sensitivity during which experience confers enduring effects.
The first “test tube baby” was born in 1978. With advances in reproductive science, an estimated one percent of all American babies are now born each year through in vitro fertilization (IVF). But IVF and other assisted fertility treatments may be solving one problem by creating another, suggests new evidence from Tel Aviv University.
A study, conducted by a team at the Harvard School of Public Health, found that autism was nearly twice as common among the children of women who were treated with the ovulation-inducing drug Clomid and other similar drugs than women who did not suffer from infertility, and the link persisted even after researchers accounted for the women’s age. Moreover, the association between fertility drugs and autism appeared to strengthen with exposure: the longer women reported being treated for infertility, the higher the chances their child had an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Parents of autistic children often hear that the divorce rate in families with autism is 80%, but a new study debunks that figure as a myth. There really weren’t any significant differences in terms of family structure when you consider children with autism and those without.
Filed under: Mothers
Wary parents want to protect their child from any possible risk. It’s time to inject a dose of reality into the rumor-driven debate.
Advanced maternal age is linked to a significantly elevated risk of having a child with autism, regardless of the father’s age, according to an exhaustive study of all births in California during the 1990s by UC Davis Health System researchers. Advanced paternal age is associated with elevated autism risk only when the father is older and the mother is under 30, the study found.
Disgruntled mother writes about her frustrations with the use of the phrase “Those Kids” by community members to describe autistic children like her son.
Parents often swear their children with autism get better while they are undergoing alternative therapies. Pitches from doctors providing alternative treatments are difficult to resist, he said. But in evaluating a therapy, the challenge is determining how much, if any, of the progress can be credited to the treatment. Some parents are beginning to realize […]
Reviewing a larger population than in any other study of its kind, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has found that as parents age their risk of giving birth to a child with autism increases modestly. Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the new CDPH study shows that for each 10-year increase in a mothers age, the risk of autism increased by about 38 percent. For each 10-year increase in a fathers age, the risk of autism increased by about 22 percent.
Serum antibodies in 100 mothers of children with autistic disorder (MCAD) were compared to 100 age-matched mothers with unaffected children (MUC) using as antigenic substrates human and rodent fetal and adult brain tissues, GFAP, and MBP. MCAD had significantly more individuals with Western immunoblot bands at 36 kDa in human fetal and rodent embryonic brain […]
Autism is a profound disorder of neurodevelopment with poorly understood biological origins. A potential role for maternal autoantibodies in the etiology of some cases of autism has been proposed in previous studies To investigate this hypothesis, maternal plasma antibodies against human fetal and adult brain proteins were analyzed by western blot in 61 mothers of […]
One proposed cause of ASD is exposure of the fetal brain to maternal autoantibodies during pregnancy [Dalton, P., Deacon, R., Blamire, A., Pike, M., McKinlay, I., Stein, J., Styles, P., Vincent, A., 2003. Maternal neuronal antibodies associated with autism and a language disorder. Ann. Neurol. 53, 533-537]. To provide evidence for this hypothesis, four rhesus […]
Childhood autism is associated with a substantial loss of annual household income. This likely places a significant burden on families in the face of additional out-of-pocket expenditures. Both having a child with autism spectrum disorder and having a child with other disabilities were associated with decreased odds of living in a higher income household after […]
Filed under: Mothers
To find inherited causes of autism-spectrum disorders, we studied families in which parents share ancestors, enhancing the role of inherited factors. We mapped several loci, some containing large, inherited, homozygous deletions that are likely mutations. The largest deletions implicated genes, including PCDH10 (protocadherin 10) and DIA1 (deleted in autism1, or c3orf58), whose level of expression […]