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Week by Week

Autism Could Originate during Pregnancy

By Medically reviewed by Dr. Duyen Le.

Autism is known to affect a child’s life in many aspects like academic performance or social relationships. Treating the condition is also a battle full of difficulties. To our surprise, autism may develop since the baby is still inside the mother’s womb.

Autism linked to disrupted brain development

Researchers have long been doubtful that disruptions in the process of brain development may lead to autism. And, this problem started soon since the conception. However, not until recently have they acknowledged that the outer layer of the brain in children with autism have patches of disorganization.

Autism could originate during pregnancy

To figure things out, researchers have conducted a study on brain tissue of 22 children after they died. Half of them have autism and half of them don’t. The result came out that in the brain’s outer layer of those with autism, there are patches of disruptions. Meanwhile, scientists already know that these kinds of disrupted issues happen during the prenatal stage. Thus, they strongly believed that autism may originate during pregnancy.

They continued to carry another study in which they looked into the characteristics of these abnormal patches. They found out that in autistic children, these small disrupted patches presented in the brain tissue and they lack some certain genetic signatures. Moreover, these patches tended to locate more at the critical areas in charge of high brain functions.

Autism may improve with early treatment

Luckily, the abnormalities stopped at small disrupted patches, not pervasive abnormalities. Thus, early therapy can help. Accordingly, with proper treatment, toddlers with autism can improve their conditions. The brain may somehow manage to rewire and overcome those error spots. Researchers all believe that the earlier the children get treated, the more positive the result is. They are also working to find new methods to detect autism in its early stage.

A closer look: What causes autism

As potential as the result, however, there were still some flaws. First of all, researchers did not know at which stage of the pregnancy that autism began to start. Secondly, also the biggest concern, the study did not explain what caused that disrupted development in the child’s brain at that early stage.

Scientists agree that autism can be caused by genes and factors from the environment. Sometimes, autism is the result of both culprits. For the environment factors, researchers have worked so hard to figure them out and come up with some possible ones: prolonged exposure to air pollution, shortage of the B vitamin folate and exposure to viral infections.


You might also want to read:

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources
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