In what may be a significant finding in regards to a potential cause of autism, researchers have uncovered that maternal antibodies could interfere with fetal brain proteins during pregnancy – suggesting this could account for roughly one quarter of autism cases.
What this could mean is that testing a pregnant woman’s blood for six distinct antibodies – as identified in the study – may be able to predict with a high certainty whether her baby has a significant risk of developing autism.
Researchers don’t know why or when mothers produce these antibodies that interfere with fetal brain development – possible theories include infections or toxic chemical exposure during pregnancy.
The study included 246 autistic children and their mothers, as well as 149 typically developing children. Of the mothers tested, all but one with the antibodies had an autistic child. However, as also noted, having a negative test for antibodies would not rule out the risk of autism.
Lynsey, Community Manager