Wednesday February 26, 2020

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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Applying Moisturisers on Babies Cannot Prevent Eczema

Using daily moisturisers cannot prevent eczema in newborn babies or infants

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Babies skin
Using daily moisturisers on newborn babies cannot prevent eczema as previously thought. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Researchers have found that using daily moisturisers on newborn babies cannot prevent eczema as previously thought according to health news.

Eczema is a very common skin problem affecting around one in five children in the UK. It usually starts in infancy, and a generally dry skin is often one of the first symptoms in babies who go on to develop the condition.

“Much progress has been made in recent years on the treatment of severe eczema, but the goal of preventing eczema from developing in the first place remains elusive,” said study lead author Hywel Williams from University of Nottingham in the UK.

Some healthcare workers recommend that parents regularly use moisturisers to prevent eczema in newborn babies.

According to the researchers, it is thought that a faulty skin barrier could be the first step in the development of eczema. Moisturisers improve skin barrier function by providing a covering to the outermost layer of skin and trapping in water.

Babies skin
Some healthcare workers recommend that parents regularly use moisturisers to prevent eczema in newborn babies. (Representational Image). Pixabay

The aim of the Barrier Enhancement for Eczema Prevention (BEEP) study was to determine whether such advice had any impact on preventing the development of eczema. For the findings, published in the journal The Lancet, the research team looked at 1394 newborn babies who were born to families with eczema, asthma or hayfever.

The babies were randomly split into two groups. One group was advised to apply moisturiser all over their babies every day until their first birthday. The other group was asked not to use moisturiser. Both the groups were given general skin care guidance.

The study found no evidence that the daily use of moisturiser during the first year of life could prevent eczema in the studied children. There was however, a small increase in the risk of skin infections. The results also showed early indications that daily use of these creams may increase the risk of food allergy.

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“Whilst this is disappointing for sufferers who thought that was an option for their children, we can now recommend that this advice is not given to parents and begin looking at what other possible preventative options there may be,” Williams said.

“It is important not to confuse our study on moisturisers for eczema prevention with the use of moisturisers for people who have eczema, where the evidence of benefit is much greater,” Williams added. (IANS)