What Causes Autism During Pregnancy

Is Maternal Smoking Linking To Autism The Answer To This Controversial Question May Surprise You

Report: Autism May Begin Developing In Infants During Pregnancy

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No. Currently, there is no evidence to support a link between maternal smoking and autism.While maternal decision making during pregnancy can impact the future mental and physical health of their children, there does not seem to be a connection between maternal smoking and autism.

Evidence Of First Trimester Brain Defects

According to researchers who performed a study through the University of California San Diego, there is now clear and direct evidence that autism begins during pregnancy. The study was compiled by comparing the brain tissue of post-mortem children both with and without Autism. Apparently, tissue in the brain cortex was disturbed in the majority of those diagnosed with Autism. This part of the brain is responsible for higher order brain function and it develops in the prenatal period. Scientists say this type of disturbance is viewed as a defect, and could possibly be identified by specific genes that carry the abnormality. Researchers are hopeful that this means that in cases of Autism diagnosed in the toddler years or before, children may still have a chance at significant improvement through clinical treatment. It is not yet clear exactly what is happening in pregnancy to cause the defect, and experts continue to stress that it is unlikely caused by a single factor, but rather by multiple influences from the mother.

Infection During Pregnancy Causes Autism A Paper

In a paper recently published in Natures Molecular Psychiatry, M. Hornig et al. examined whether there was a link between maternal exposure to second-trimester fever and autism spectrum disorder risk. What they found was that a pregnant woman who had fevers during her second-trimester was 40% more likely to have a child born with ASD.

Using a prospective cohort study, the researchers followed a group of 95,000 children born in Norway over time, who differ with respect to maternal infections, and attempted to determine if those infections may have caused autism in the children. This study was done in Norway, where medical records are thorough for all citizens of the country, allowing researchers to pinpoint a correlation between a cause and an effect.

The relationship between maternal fevers and ASD seems to increase substantially with three or more maternal fevers, with a 312% increase in the risk of ASD children than mothers without an infection. And fever-reducing medications, such as acetaminophen , seem to reduce the risk for ASD. The researchers arent certain that these medications are a solution, since there other risks to pregnant women when they take them.

There is very strong evidence that a rubella infection during pregnancy leads to a significantly increased risk of autism in her baby. Immunization against rubella before or during may be an effective strategy to reduce the risk of autism in children of those mothers.

The authors concluded that:

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Exposure To Good Bacteria During Pregnancy Buffers Risk Of Autism

Animal study suggests prenatal exposure to microbes can counteract stress and influence brain development

Inoculation with Mycobacterium Vaccae, pictured here, had beneficial impacts on the neurodevelopment of offspring, a new animal study shows.

Newswise Giving beneficial bacteria to stressed mothers during the equivalent of the third trimester of pregnancy prevents an autism-like disorder in their offspring, according to a new animal study by University of Colorado Boulder researchers.

The study, published this month in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, marks the latest in a series of studies in animals and humans suggesting that exposure to certain immune-modulating microbes can dampen inflammation, positively impacting the brain and central nervous system.

Its among the first studies to suggest that such exposures during pregnancy influence neurodevelopment of a fetus and, while far more research is necessary, could open the door to new prenatal interventions.

It suggests that you could develop microbial interventions that lower the risk of neurodevelopmental syndromes like autism, said co-author Christopher Lowry, an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology.

In humans, research has long shown that maternal stress during pregnancy prompts systemic inflammation in both the mother and fetus and is a risk factor for autism, said senior author Daniel Barth, a professor of psychology and neuroscience.

Reasons Autism Begins In Pregnancy

Fever During Pregnancy Linked to Autism Risk in Kids ...

These days it is pretty hard to make sense of everything we see in the news and through social media. With so much contradictory information, inflamed personal views, misinterpretations, and assumptio

These days it is pretty hard to make sense of everything we see in the news and through social media. With so much contradictory information, inflamed personal views, misinterpretations, and assumptions about Autism and what causes, it can be easy to have our judgment clouded. Many of us are left wondering what the truth is and what isnt. While there are many beliefs and stigmas surrounding the definitive reasons that we are seeing an increase in Autism diagnosis, there has never been one single source identified as the culprit. According to experts in the field, there are many potential causes of Autism, but one thing that many of them have in common is a link between the disorder and pregnancy. Science is telling us in so many words, that Autism probably begins in the womb, in most cases.

The verdict is still out, about whether or not we can control, suppress, or even prevent the causes that are linked with Autism. The truth is, we just don´t know yet. But, if you are interested to know what medicine and science have unveiled about pregnancy and Autism, it is best to compile research from reputable sources like medical journals and scientific studies.

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What Doesnt Cause Autism

Bad parenting

There was a bleak period in history from the 1950s to 1970s when autism was believed to be a psychological disorder, and blamed on cold, uncaring parents, usually the mothers.

Fortunately, the myth of the ârefrigerator motherâ has been debunked by science, and autism is now recognised as a disorder of brain development with genetic links. Nothing you said or did as a parent caused your child to develop autism, so please donât listen to anyone who suggests otherwise.


Scores of scientific studies have effectively ruled out vaccines as a cause of autism. Concerns originally arose around two issues of Mercury and the MMR Vaccine

In 2014, a meta-analysis, combining the result of 10 studies and over 1.2 million children, found no link between vaccines and autism. The World Health Organization, the European Medicines Agency, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading international health groups have also concluded thereâs no link. Unfortunately, the belief persists among anti-vaccination campaigners, who are very vocal on the Internet. If you remain concerned about vaccines, arrange a time to talk your paediatrician or GP. Remember, Vaccines Save Lives!

Does Drinking During Pregnancy Have A Link To Autism

Roisin Ryan explores data from the Millennium Cohort Study to understand if there is evidence of a link between drinking during pregnancy and autism in their child.

At present, women in the UK are advised to abstain from alcohol in pregnancy completely, but studies have estimated that up to 75% of women in the UK drink some alcohol during pregnancy.

Drinking alcohol in pregnancy has been shown to affect the brain development of children with fetal alcohol syndrome disorder being the most well-known disorder. Some recent studies have also suggested a link between alcohol in pregnancy and autism spectrum disorder.

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 1 in 130 people worldwide.

It is a spectrum disorder because the symptoms of autism can vary a lot from person to person. People with ASD may have difficulty communicating and forming relationships with others, and view the world differently to those without autism. They may also have difficulty with abstract concepts and with language development. Overall, it results in a large burden for individuals, their families, and the state, and is estimated to cost 25 billion annually in the UK.

Our study used the Millennium Cohort Study data to investigate if alcohol use in pregnancy was associated with a childhood diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

There were patterns in the types of women who drank:

Data from the Millennium Cohort Study is available from the UK Data Service.

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Being A Refrigerator Mom

Lack of maternal bonding, also know as “The Refrigerator Mother Theory” has been said to cause autism in babies. The theory was developed in the 1950’s. The theory says if the mother is not warm and loving to her baby and the baby then becomes withdrawn thus causing the child to develop autism. With this theory it is also believed that abuse and traumatic events or treatment of an infant can cause them to develop autism. The theory has been around for years, and while The National Autism Society does not believe this theory to be true, it has stick around for years. Many scientists and behavior specialist still believe there to be a link between a lack of maternal bonding and autism.

Offspring Of Mothers With The Ptenwt/m3m4 Genotype Show Increased Asd

STUDY: Connection between infection during pregnancy and autism or depression for baby

To interrogate the impact of maternal genetics on the incidence and severity of an ASD-like phenotype in the offspring, PtenWT/m3m4 females were bred to PtenWT/WT males or PtenWT/WT females were bred to PtenWT/m3m4 males to compare pups of a heterozygous mutant mother vs. pups of a homozygous wildtype mother . Average litter sizes from PtenWT/WT females X PtenWT/m3m4 males and PtenWT/m3m4 females X PtenWT/WT males were similar. In contrast, a significant decrease in litter size was observed when PtenWT/m3m4 females X PtenWT/m3m4 males, most likely due to 100% loss of Ptenm3m4/m3m4 homozygous mutant fetuses in-utero around E15.5. For this reason, PtenWT/m3m4 female X PtenWT/m3m4 male crosses were not compared further in the study for the maternal inflammatory state, due to additional inflammatory insults from resorption of homozygous mutant fetuses in-utero. The number of PtenWT/WT and PtenWT/m3m4 pups born were as expected per Mendelian ratios indicating no genotype preference or in-utero mortality differences between the two maternal or offspring genotypes . However, postnatally, PtenWT/m3m4 mothers lost more pups between P0 and P8. Litters of Momsm3m4 had postnatal mortality of 2024% of their pups in 5667% of all litters compared to only 4% pup death in 29% of litters from MomWT .

Fig. 1: Pups of PtenWT/m3m4 mothers have higher postnatal mortality, macrocephaly, and ASD-like behavior compared to PtenWT/WT mothers.

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Can Stress During Pregnancy Cause Autism

You might want to take a few deep breaths before you read this.

It seems like almost every day researchers are pointing the finger at something as a possible cause of autism spectrum disorder . Now the latest in a long line of culprits is apparently stress during pregnancy.

We already know maternal stress has been linked to a bunch of unwelcome outcomes like pre-term delivery and low birth weight not to mention an increase in behavioral problems in kids later in life. But a 2016 study in the New England Journal of Medicine tells us that being stressed out while pregnant may cause autism, too.

“We know that some mothers who experience significant levels of stress don’t have children with autism, but others do,” explained senior author of the study, David Beversdorf, M.D. “Autism was thought to be largely a genetic disorder, but previous research has shown that environmental influences such as stress can play an important role in the development of the condition.”

It’s a good thing expectant mamas have nothing to freak out over, thenyou know, besides genetic testing, the fear of developing gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, or the anxiety of having a child.

Their findings? The moms of kids with ASD who had the variation reported feeling more stress during the end of the second and the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy. Yikes!

How Does Your Health Come Into Play

Researchers know that maternal health during pregnancy has an impact on the unborn child, and ASD is certainly no exception to this rule. “For instance, women who are severely ill and require hospitalization during pregnancy may be more likely to have children who develop autism,” says Dr. Wang. Specifically, studies have shown associations between maternal infections during pregnancy and subsequent risk for their children developing an autism spectrum disorder.

In general, women should do what they can to remain healthy during pregnancy. “This includes optimizing nutrition, taking prenatal vitamins as recommended by their obstetrician, avoiding exposure to unnecessary drugs and medications, and ensuring that their own vaccinations are up to date,” says Dr. Wang. Also, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that gestational diabetes developed by 26 weeks is linked with an increased risk to ASD. Ask your doctor about the right plan for you and then stick with it.

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Autism Caused By Immune Response To Viral Infection During Pregnancy

New research published in Science demonstrates a connection between a mothers immune response to a viral threat and autism-like traits in the offspring of mice.

Despite first being described in 1943, autistic spectrum disorders remain a mysterious affliction.

Autism affects an estimated 1 in 68 American children, but the exact mechanisms at fault are still very much up for debate.

One avenue of research has shown links between viral infections in the mother during pregnancy and an increased risk of autism in the child.

A new study, taking a fresh look at the immune response, has identified a subsection of immune cells that appear to cause certain behaviors linked to autism.

Dr. Dan Littman and his team of researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University of Colorado focused their sights on a specific immune response that deals with viral invaders.

Dr. Littman says:

To our knowledge, this is the first study to identify a specific population of immune cells that may have a direct role in causing behaviors linked to autism.

He also preempts discourse on the potential confusion between his work and the effects of vaccines on autism. He makes it clear that his work looking at the impacts of viruses has nothing whatsoever to do with vaccines.

Cannabis Use During Pregnancy Linked To Autism

Autism Risk Reduced in Women Who Take Prenatal Vitamins

Researchers from The Ottawa Hospital in Ontario, Canada, have found that children born to mothers who used cannabis while pregnant are more likely to have autism than children born to mothers who did not use the substance while pregnant. Given the legalization of recreational cannabis in many jurisdictions, the study raises concerns over the potential adverse outcomes of prenatal exposure.

For the study, the researchers reviewed medical records of over 500,000 births in Ontario between April 2007 and March 2012. In total, they reported that 0.6% of the mothers studied used cannabis during pregnancy. Meanwhile, 1.4% of children studied were diagnosed with autism. This figure increased to 2.2% if their mother had smoked cannabis during pregnancy.

When controlling for various other factors, the researchers found that 4 in 1000 children born to mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy had autism. In contrast, the same figure was just 2.42 out of 1000 for unexposed children. The researchers also found a link between intellectual disability and learning disorders in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy.

Nevertheless, the findings may be significant enough to encourage pregnant women to exercise caution when using cannabis. This may especially be the case given recent findings showing that women who consume cannabis while pregnant have a higher risk of premature birth, and delivering babies with low birth weight.

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Use Of Specific Prescription Drugs During Pregnancy

What is the truth about the prescription drugs we take during pregnancy? Could they be helping us but harming the baby? There are three major drugs that have direct links to Autism: they include a drug used in labor, a preventative drug for seizures, and certain Antidepressants. Terbetuline is a drug commonly used to stop premature labor. Babies exposed to it in the third trimester are 4 times as likely to be diagnosed with Autism. Pregnant women who are given Valporic Acid, a medication for preventing seizures, early in pregnancy during the formation of the neural tube, may be associated with Autism. The study has only been done on rats, but just one dose of the drug, resulted in changes to the brain that mimic those of people diagnosed with Autism. Now, for the Antidepressants. It is a widely held belief that antidepressant used during pregnancy is safe, but according to JAMA Pediatrics, women who take them are 87% more like to have a child with Autism as compared with women who did not. Researchers say that taking antidepressants is still not a proven cause of Autism, but it is correlated with it. Experts say that pregnant women should not stop being treated for depression, but if their symptoms are mild, it might prove beneficial to consider alternative non-drug treatments like psycho-therapy and exercise.

Fetusm3m4 From Momm3m4 Show Increased Breakdown Of The Bloodbrainbarrier Compared To Fetusm3m4 From Momwt

We next investigated the differential impact of maternal genetics on the developing fetal brain. Significantly decreased expression of markers of the bloodbrainbarrier , namely, glucose transporter 1 and endothelial cell integrity, i.e., platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule was observed in Momm3m4Fetusm3m4 compared to MomWTFetusm3m4 . Decreased CD31 expression was not a result of reduced angiogenesis in Momm3m4Fetusm3m4 as evident by equal expression of CD31 in extra central nervous system tissue . Significantly increased albumin leakage was seen in perivascular spaces in the brain of Momm3m4Fetusm3m4 indicating a break-down of the BBB in-utero at E17.5 . In contrast to the decrease in expression of C4b transcripts in the liver , the brain of Momm3m4Fetusm3m4 showed increased C4 deposits in blood vessels as well as the brain parenchyma . Complement C3 deposits however were not different between Momm3m4Fetusm3m4 and MomWTFetusm3m4 .

Fig. 3: Breakdown of the bloodbrainbarrier in fetuses undergoing gestation in Momm3m4.

Collectively, these data show that maternal genetic contributions that promote a lack of immunosuppression during pregnancy can lead to a breakdown of the BBB in the fetus.

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