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TOPIC: Mom's Antibodies May Cause Some Autism

Mom's Antibodies May Cause Some Autism 14 Jul 2013 15:12 #236

Mom's Antibodies May Cause Some Autism
Posted July 10, 2013 by Emily Underwood

"Antibrain" antibodies that slip through the placenta from mother to fetus during pregnancy may account for roughly a quarter of autism cases, a new study suggests. Some scientists say the work could lead to a blood test that accurately predicts whether a mother will bear a child with this immune-triggered form of the disorder—a claim that's raising eyebrows among skeptics.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a range of communication and social deficits estimated to affect 1 in 88 children, is now largely thought to be a neurodevelopmental malady that begins in the womb. For years, many researchers have brushed aside the idea that an out-of-whack immune response could contribute to this, preferring to focus on genetic factors that could derail typical brain development, says immunologist Judy Van de Water. Over the past decade, however, she and her colleagues at the University of California (UC), Davis, as well as several other research groups, have been slowly building a case for the role of an immune disorder in a subset of autism cases. "We just didn't quit," she says.

In 2008, Van de Water found that roughly a quarter of 61 women with autistic children carried in their blood an unusual group of antibodies—large, Y-shaped proteins with sticky ends that normally bind to and destroy foreign or potentially harmful microbes. Some of these, called autoantibodies, occasionally go rogue and attack the body's healthy cells, causing autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The higher the level of autoantibodies in the mother's blood, the more severe the child's autistic symptoms, Van de Water observed. She hypothesized that these autoantibodies were attacking proteins necessary for fetal brain development.

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Continue reading: http://news.sciencemag.org/2013/07/mom%E2%80%99s-antibodies-may-cause-some-autism
Last Edit: 02 May 2014 01:00 by michael.bailey. Reason: updated external link
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