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Scientists Discover Link Between the Womb and Autism

Scientists Discover Link Between the Womb and Autism
August 09
17:18 2019

Over the last 50 years, the number of children diagnosed with autism has been increasing faster than many realize. Part of this is due to an increased understanding of what autism is compared to 50 years ago. According to Autism Speaks:

Prevalence 

  • In 2018 the CDC determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  • 1 in 37 boys 
  • 1 in 151 girls
  • Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
  • Most children were still being diagnosed after age 4, though autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as age 2.
  • 31% of children with ASD have an intellectual disability (intelligence quotient [IQ] <70), 25% are in the borderline range (IQ 71–85), and 44% have IQ scores in the average to above average range (i.e., IQ >85).
  • Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
  • Minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often.
  • Early intervention affords the best opportunity to support healthy development and deliver benefits across the lifespan.
  • There is no medical detection for autism.

Many try to blame diets, vaccines and all sorts of things. Again, turning to Autism Speaks:

Causes 

  • Research indicates that genetics are involved in the vast majority of cases.
  • Children born to older parents are at a higher risk for having autism. 
  • Parents who have a child with ASD have a 2 to 18 percent chance of having a second child who is also affected.
  • Studies have shown that among identical twins, if one child has autism, the other will be affected about 36 to 95 percent of the time. In non-identical twins, if one child has autism, then the other is affected about 31 percent of the time.
  • Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.

If you notice, what is missing from their list of causes is a cause. How does anyone treat a condition that no one knows what causes it? The key to every treatment and cure is first knowing the cause and with autism, no one seems to know the cause.

However, researchers may have taking a big leap towards finding a cause, or one of the causes of autism:

Scientist have identified a link between exposure to high levels of oestrogen sex hormones in the womb and the likelihood of developing autism. The findings are published today 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, a team of scientists at the University of Cambridge and the State Serum Institute in Denmark 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.

Today, 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 likelihood of autism than were high levels of prenatal androgens (such as testosterone). Contrary to popular belief that associates oestrogens with feminisation, prenatal oestrogens have effects on brain growth and also masculinise the brain in many mammals.

So, what does this really mean?

If further research supports and verifies these findings, then it may be possible to detect the possibility of autism early in development, which steps could be taken to alter the high levels of estrogen and thus reduce the chances of a baby developing autism, which could impact the lives of millions.

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