Lipid Imbalances in the Brain May Trigger ASD

Researchers have recently stated that abnormal levels of lipid molecules in the brain can possibly trigger Autism disorders. Heavy amounts of lipid molecules can affect the interaction between two key neural pathways in the brain.

Several factors can affect the levels of lipids in early prenatal brain development, including environmental factors, exposure to chemicals in cosmetic products, and the use of over-the-counter medications. Professor Dorota Crawford of the York Autism Alliance Research Group states, “We have found that the abnormal level of a lipid molecule called Prostaglandin E2 in the brain can affect the function of Wnt proteins, [which is] important because it can change the course of early embryonic development”. Prostaglandin E2 is a bioactive fatty acid, a natural lipid molecule involved in healthy, normal functioning of the human body.


The research is significant, as scientists are focused on finding the reasons why so many children have been diagnosed with ASD in recent years. Currently, the rate of children diagnosed with Autism disorders in the U.S.is 1 in 68. “The statistics are alarming,” states Crawford. She continues, “It’s 30 percent higher than the previous estimate of 1 in 88 children, up from only two years earlier. It’s even more apparent from [recent findings] that the environment might have a greater impact on vulnerable genes, particularly in pregnancy. Our study provides some molecular evidence that the environment likely disrupts certain events occurring in early brain development and contributes to autism.”

According to Crawford, genes do not undergo significant changes in evolution, so even though genetic factors are the main cause, environmental factors are significant. According to the research team, insufficient dietary supplementations of fatty acids, exposures to infections, various chemicals, and drugs can change gene expression could possibly trigger Autism disorders.

The ICare4Autism International Conference will be discussing recent medical research and giving biomedical perspectives in NYC on July 1st. Several medical professionals will be giving presentations, including Dr. Paulo Fontoura, Global Head/VP of Translational Medicine for Roche Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Fontoura will be giving a speech on recent advances in translational medicine. To hear Dr. Fontoura speak, please select tickets here.

As Autism Awareness Month continues, ICare4Autism will be sharing more scientific discoveries, as well as promising treatments for individuals with ASD. We will also be highlighting several self-advocates and stories of hope. We hope that you will share these stories, and use the month of April to spread awareness about Autism! Please make a difference and donate today!

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