Mom's Antibodies May Cause Autism in Baby: Researchers

Wednesday, 10 Jul 2013 12:13 PM

 

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
    A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

Autism researchers said Tuesday they had found a group of maternal antibodies that target proteins in the foetus' developing brain.
 
A study that compared 246 mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to 149 women with healthy children found that nearly a quarter in the first group had different combinations of these antibodies.
 
Antibodies are the foot soldiers of the immune system, latching onto viral or microbial intruders and tagging them for destruction by specialised "killer" cells.
 
But sometimes, for some unknown reason, these antibodies target our own, healthy proteins, becoming "auto-antibodies."
 
They play an important role in autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
 
Just as pregnant women pass good antibodies on to their unborn children through the placenta, so too can they pass on malfunctioning ones which can target proteins the baby needs to develop, said study author Judy Van De Water, a professor of medicine at the University of California, Davis.
 
"We discovered that 23 percent of mothers whose children have autism have autoantibodies to certain proteins that are necessary for healthy neuron development," she told AFP by email of the study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.
 
"These antibodies are not found in the blood of mothers (whose) children are typically developing."
 
ASD describes a broad range of impairments in which a person is unable or unwilling to communicate or interact with others, often cripplingly so.
 
Some patients have delays in cognitive development, whereas others can have dazzling gifts in specific fields such as maths or music. But the causes of the disease remain unclear.
 
ASD affects about one in 88 children in the United States.
 
Van De Water said the study revealed which seven proteins the autoantibodies latch on to, providing critical clues to the development of some forms of ASD, and possibly boosting the quest for an early, predictive test and treatment.
 
The researchers found 11 different combinations of seven proteins, each posing a different level of ASD risk.
 
"Very early behavioural intervention is effective in helping children with ASD improve their behaviours and abilities, so knowing this very early will be beneficial," Van De Water said.
 
"Because this test could be used prior to conception, the women could make a decision to use a surrogate or to prepare for having a child with ASD and undergoing early intervention."
 
One shortcoming of the study was that the samples from mothers were taken when their children were diagnosed, rather than during pregnancy, said the authors.
 
A separate paper published in the same journal pointed to a similar effect of human autoantibodies in rhesus monkeys.
 
Researchers took antibodies from women with ASD children, gave it to eight monkey females, and tested the effects on their offspring.
 
They found the monkey babies "displayed several behavioural differences, including inappropriate approaches to unfamiliar peers", said a press summary.
 
Male offspring had enlarged frontal brain lobes, consistent with brain scan results from autistic human children.
 

© AFP 2014

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Researchers Take 'Baby Step' Toward Anti-Aging Drug

Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 11:23 AM

Researchers could be closing in on a fountain of youth drug that can delay the effects of aging and improve the health . . .

Simple Tricks to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 11:17 AM

Overeating is common during the holidays, but there are strategies that can help you eat in moderation, an expert says.  . . .

Complex Job Helps Maintain Brain Fitness

Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 11:11 AM

Regardless of IQ, people who work at complex jobs have a slightly higher chance of being better thinkers as they age, a  . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved