Skip to main content

Study suggests link between autism and prenatal brain growth

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

A new study published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine adds to the theory that autism may start in the womb.

Autism researchers at the University of California, San Diego, examined the brains of children with autism who died.

They found abnormal patterns of cell growth in tissue samples from regions important for regulating social functioning, emotions and communication — which can all be troublesome for children with autism, the Associated Press reports.

The abnormalities were found in 10 of 11 children with autism, but in only one of 11 children without the disease. The children's brains were donated to science after death; causes of death included drowning, accidents, asthma and heart problems.

The authors of the study said the clusters, detected with sophisticated lab tests, are likely defects that occurred during the second or third trimesters of pregnancy.

According to the CDC, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged.

A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.

Autism is more than twice as common as officials said it was just seven years ago.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates autism affects roughly 1.2 million U.S. children and teens. The estimate means 1 in 68 U.S children have autism or a disorder related to autism, The Washington Post reports.

The paper notes that health officials say the new number may not mean autism is occurring more often. Much of the increase is believed to be from a cultural and medical shift, with doctors diagnosing autism more frequently, especially in children with milder problems.

There are no blood or biologic tests for autism, so diagnosis is not an exact science. It’s identified by making judgments about a child’s behavior.

Next Up

blowing snow

Blowing snow Friday in Minnesota; will it snow next week?

Winds could gust up to 50 mph Friday afternoon and night.

Deer hunting blaze orange

To combat CWD, late-season deer hunting announced for 9 areas of MN

The special hunts will be held between Dec. 16 and 18.

covid

COVID levels rising in wastewater; BQ.1 now dominant

BQ.1 is the new dominant subvariant in Twin Cities wastewater.

Screen Shot 2022-12-02 at 11.43.05 AM

Keith Ellison, other AGs settle with CarMax over recall disclosures

As part of the settlement, CarMax now must disclosure open recalls online and on the lot.

police lights squad car

Man kidnaps 2-year-old daughter in St. Paul, crashes after pursuit in Minneapolis

The incident involved both police departments in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

police lights

Boys aged 15, 16 arrested after shooting of teen in Woodbury

The victim suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.

MoorheadMurderSuspect

Police: Woman found dead with 'traumatic injuries' inside Moorhead home

Police are investigating the incident as a homicide.

Screen Shot 2022-12-02 at 7.59.36 AM

St. Paul's East Side Bar closes after two-and-a-half years in business

The bar opened just as the COVID-19 pandemic closed bars and restaurants.

Police tape

Police: Man and woman found dead inside Rochester home

An investigation is ongoing as of Friday morning.

Related