Friday October 18, 2019

Novel Blood Test May Predict Autism Risk in Babies During Pregnancy

These are exciting results as they hint at differences in some metabolic processes that potentially play a role in increasing the risk of having a child with autism

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Pregnancy, autism
Pregnancy after breast cancer does not increase a woman's risk of a relapse. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a novel blood test for pregnant mothers that can, with nearly 90 per cent accuracy rate, predict the probability of having a child that will be diagnosed with autism.

According to studies, if a mother has previously had a child with autism, the risk of having a second child with the developmental disorder is approximately 18.7 per cent, whereas the risk in the general population is approximately 1.7 per cent.

In the study, led by Juergen Hahn, Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, metabolites of the folate-dependent transmethylation and transsulfuration biochemical pathways of pregnant mothers were measured to determine whether or not the risk of having a child with autism could be predicted by her metabolic profile.

Pregnant mothers who have had a child with autism before were separated into two groups based on the diagnosis of their child whether the child had autism or not.

Pregnancy
Representational image. Pixabay

Then these mothers were compared to a group of control mothers who have not had a child with autism before.

The results, appearing in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, showed that while it is not possible to determine during a pregnancy if a child will be diagnosed with autism by age 3, they did find that differences in the plasma metabolites are indicative of the relative risk (18.7 per cent vs 1.7 per cent) for having a child with autism.

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“These are exciting results as they hint at differences in some metabolic processes that potentially play a role in increasing the risk of having a child with autism,” Hahn said.

“However, it would be highly desirable if a prediction based upon physiological measurements could be made to determine which risk group a prospective mother falls into,” Hahn noted. (IANS)

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Children Born to Women with Hyperemesis may be at Increased Risk of Autism

This could lead to dangerous dehydration and inadequate nutrition during pregnancy

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Mothers, Morning Sickness, Pregnancy
Affected women experience intense nausea and are unable to keep down food and fluids. Pixabay

Children whose mothers had hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness, during pregnancy were 53 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, a study said.

Hyperemesis gravidarum occurs in less than five per cent of pregnancies. Affected women experience intense nausea and are unable to keep down food and fluids.

This could lead to dangerous dehydration and inadequate nutrition during pregnancy.

“This study is important because it suggests that children born to women with hyperemesis may be at an increased risk of autism,” said the study’s lead author Darios Getahun, Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research and Evaluation.

Mothers, Morning Sickness, Pregnancy
Hyperemesis gravidarum occurs in less than five per cent of pregnancies. Pixabay

“Awareness of this association may create the opportunity for earlier diagnosis and intervention in children at risk of autism,” Getahun said,

For the study published in the American Journal of Perinatology, researchers reviewed the electronic health records of nearly 500,000 pregnant women and their children born between 1991-2014 in Southern California.

They compared children whose mothers had a diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy to those whose mothers did not.

The researchers found that exposure to hyperemesis gravidarum was associated with increased risk of autism when the disease was diagnosed during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, but not when it was diagnosed only in the third trimester.

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Exposure to the disease was associated with the risk of autism regardless of the severity of the mother’s hyperemesis gravidarum, the study said.

The results are consistent with the hypothesis that women experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum have a poor nutritional intake, which might, in turn lead to potential long-term neurodevelopment impairment in their children. (IANS)