Saturday August 24, 2019

Prenatal Fish Consumption NOT Linked to Autism Risk in Babies

The researchers also found poor social cognition if mothers ate no fish at all, especially for baby girls

0
//
Fat
Fish is an excellent source of the omega-3s EPA and DHA while flax, walnuts and canola oil are good sources of ALA omega-3. Pixabay

Instead of increasing risk of autism, eating fish twice a week during pregnancy may actually give newborns several nutritional benefits, suggests a new research.

The findings — published in journal Molecular Autism — found no evidence to support claims that mercury in fish is linked to the development of autism or autistic traits in newborns.

“All species of fish contain traces of mercury, which can harm brain development, but we have found that the health benefits of fish, probably from nutrients such as vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and iodine, outweigh the risks from mercury,” said co-author Caroline Taylor from the University of Bristol in Britain.

For the study, the researchers examined the assumption that mercury exposure during pregnancy is a major cause of autism, using evidence from nearly 4,500 women.

They analysed blood samples, reported fish consumption and gathered information on autism and autistic traits from one of the largest longitudinal studies to date.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The researchers also found poor social cognition if mothers ate no fish at all, especially for baby girls.

“Our findings further endorse the safety of eating fish during pregnancy. Importantly, we’ve found no evidence at all to support claims that mercury is involved in the development of autism or autistic traits,” said lead author Jean Golding, Professor at the University of Bristol.

Also Read: Gene Responsible For Autism Identified

“This adds to a body of work that endorses eating of fish during pregnancy for a good nutritional start to life with at least two fish meals a week,” Golding noted. (IANS)

Next Story

High Levels of Oestrogen Could Cause Autism

In 2015, the researchers measured the levels of four prenatal steroid hormones, including two known as androgens

0
Oestrogen, Autism, High
Published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the discovery adds further evidence to support the prenatal sex steroid theory of autism first proposed 20 years ago. Pixabay

Researchers have identified a link between exposure to high levels of oestrogen sex hormones in the womb and the likelihood of developing autism.

Published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the discovery adds further evidence to support the prenatal sex steroid theory of autism first proposed 20 years ago.

In 2015, the researchers measured the levels of four prenatal steroid hormones, including two known as androgens, in the amniotic fluid in the womb and discovered that they were higher in male foetuses who later developed autism.

These androgens are produced in higher quantities in male than in female foetuses on average, so might also explain why autism occurs more often in boys. They are also known to masculinise parts of the brain and to have effects on the number of connections between brain cells.

Oestrogen, Autism, High
Researchers have identified a link between exposure to high levels of oestrogen sex hormones in the womb and the likelihood of developing autism. Pixabay

“This new finding supports the idea that increased prenatal sex steroid hormones are one of the potential causes for the condition. Genetics is well established as another, and these hormones likely interact with genetic factors to affect the developing foetal brain,” said study lead author Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor at the University of Cambridge.

Now, the same scientists have built on their previous findings by testing the amniotic fluid samples from the same 98 individuals sampled from the Danish Biobank, which has collected amniotic samples from over 100,000 pregnancies, but this time looking at another set of prenatal sex steroid hormones called oestrogens.

This is an important next step because some of the hormones previously studied are directly converted into oestrogens. All four oestrogens were significantly elevated, on average, in the 98 foetuses who later developed autism, compared to the 177 foetuses who did not.

High levels of prenatal oestrogens were even more predictive of the likelihood of autism than were high levels of prenatal androgens (such as testosterone).

Also Read- Byju’s Hit $6 Billion Valuation, Making its Founder and CEO Byju Raveendran Newest Billionaire in India

Contrary to popular belief that associates oestrogens with feminisation, prenatal oestrogens have effects on brain growth and also masculinise the brain in many mammals.

“This finding is exciting because the role of oestrogens in autism has hardly been studied and we hope that we can learn more about how they contribute to foetal brain development in further experiments. We still need to see whether the same result holds in autistic females,” said Alexa Pohl from the University of Cambridge. (IANS)