Study Connecting Placenta to Identifying Autism Risk

It seems like a study comes out every other day regarding the potential cause of autism, or even what may put children more at risk for developing autism. We’re still very much in the dark, it seems, about what is the cause of autism, with researchers leaning mostly toward a genetic link.

Even in the past month or so there’s been studies suggesting everything from an antidepressant that may cause autism, to an epilepsy drug taken during pregnancy posing a higher risk for autism, to excessive multivitamin use causing autism in young children.

However, one study that has been widely covered recently is about early detection of autism. The study, published in Biological Psychiatry, looked at placentas at birth to determine the chance of being at risk for autism. Researchers looked specifically at women who already had children on the spectrum and found their placentas (following the delivery of their newborns) were different than others. The difference identified were abnormal folds and abnormal cell growth in the placenta. As noted in this WebMD article, the placentas from the at-risk pregnancies (meaning they already had children with autism, putting them at a higher risk for having additional children on the spectrum) were eight times more likely to have two or more of these abnormal folds than samples from not-at-risk deliveries.

Check out this NY Times article for additional details.

Lynsey, Community Manager