Evidence Grows That Maternal Immune Response During Pregnancy Could be a Key Factor in Autism

Pregnant Mice Study

Pregnant Mice Study

New studies conducted by John Hopkins Children’s center show that immune cells can cross the placenta and trigger neurobehavioral changes similar to autism in the mice. The report was published online in the Journal of Neuroimmunology and expands on a similar report published in 2008 by the same team.This new research suggests that immune cells, or antibodies, are not only made but re-circulated back to the fetus through the placenta, possibly triggering inflammation in the brain. This can lead to successive neurological changes resulting in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism. Of course it is important to note that the scientists are emphasizing that these are only one of several factors believed to contribute to autism spectrum disorders.

“Autism is a complex disorder and it would be naïve to assume there’s a single mechanism that can cause it,” says Harvey Singer, M.D., director of pediatric neurology at Hopkins Children’s. “It’s most likely the cumulative result of several factors, including genes, metabolism and environment. We believe we have identified one of these factors.”

He also added, “Comparing mice to humans is tricky, and we should be cautious anytime we do so, but our findings strongly suggest that the behaviors we observed in the offspring of mice injected with fetal brain antibodies from human mothers did behave in a manner that mimics some behaviors seen in people with autism,” Singer says.

To read the full report, click here.

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  1. Posted April 23, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    thanks for useful info.

  2. Posted April 24, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for using our site. Check back often as we are always posting new information.

  3. VivianSova
    Posted August 1, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    The information posted here about Immune Cells and the antibodies crossing the placenta to the baby is very important and I am so glad your site is here for our family to refer to as we watch our grandaughter develop and try to learn more about what is happening with her development.

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