Thursday April 25, 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)

Next Story

Avoid Smoking During Pregnancy To Prevent Premature Births

The negative health impacts of cigarette smoking during pregnancy, including low birth weight, delayed intrauterine development, pre-term birth, infant mortality, and long-term developmental delays, are well known. 

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smoking
The researcher plans to look at quit rates and smoking intensity and their impact on the risk of infant mortality. Pixabay

Expecting mothers, take note. As smoking during pregnancy is linked with negative health outcomes, a team of researchers has found that smoking cessation during pregnancy may reduce the risk of pre-term birth.

The findings, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, showed that the probability of pre-term birth decreased with earlier smoking cessation in pregnancy — up to a 20 per cent relative decrease if cessation occurred at the beginning of pregnancy.

baby
If we determine quitting, and quitting early, reduces the risk of infant mortality, then that may speak to mothers even more saliently about the importance of smoking cessation. Pixabay

“Of concern, though, given the substantial benefits of smoking cessation during pregnancy is that the proportion of pre-pregnancy smokers who quit smoking during pregnancy has remained essentially stagnant since 2011,” said lead author Samir Soneji from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in the US.

For the study, the researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of more than 25 million pregnant women who gave birth to live neonates during a six-year period — measuring their smoking frequency three months prior to pregnancy and for each trimester during pregnancy.

The negative health impacts of cigarette smoking during pregnancy, including low birth weight, delayed intrauterine development, pre-term birth, infant mortality, and long-term developmental delays, are well known.

But the good news is that the proportion of women who start their pregnancy as smokers has been declining in recent years, the researchers said.

smoking

The findings, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, showed that the probability of pre-term birth decreased with earlier smoking cessation in pregnancy — up to a 20 per cent relative decrease if cessation occurred at the beginning of pregnancy. Pixabay

However, the study also found that only about 25 per cent of women who smoked prior to pregnancy were able to quit throughout their pregnancy, and approximately 50 per cent of women who smoked during their pregnancy did so with high frequency (more than 10 cigarettes per day).

The researcher plans to look at quit rates and smoking intensity and their impact on the risk of infant mortality.

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“Thankfully most premature babies end up doing well,” he said.

“But premature birth is strongly linked to infant mortality. If we determine quitting, and quitting early, reduces the risk of infant mortality, then that may speak to mothers even more saliently about the importance of smoking cessation,” he added. (IANS)