Maternal health seems to have little impact on autism risk, according to a study published 7 January in PLoS One. The more serious risk is for intellectual disability, which can often occur along with autism.
As the central organ regulating maternal-fetal interactions, the placenta is perfectly positioned to mediate environmental and genetic risk factors during prenatal development. It may also relay risk factors for autism to the fetus, says Paul Patterson.
Experiencing a stressful event during pregnancy does not increase the risk of having a child with autism, according to an epidemiological study published 13 June in PLoS One.
An untreated fever during pregnancy more than doubles the risk that the child will develop autism, according to a study published 5 May in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
By studying pregnant women who already have a child with autism, researchers hope to understand how epigenetic changes — those that affect gene expression but don’t directly alter DNA — during pregnancy influences risk of the disorder.
Full siblings are twice as likely as half siblings to share a diagnosis of autism, according to a short report published 28 February in Molecular Psychiatry. The results suggest that genetic factors play an important role in the risk of developing autism, the researchers say.
Immigrating to another country during pregnancy appears to boost the risk of having a child who has low-functioning autism, according to a comprehensive, population-based study in Sweden. The research was published online 23 February in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Pregnant women who take beta-2 adrenergic agonists, commonly prescribed to treat asthma, are no more likely to have a child with autism than are those who don’t take the drugs.
The male offspring of mice subjected to stress during pregnancy can transmit the effects to their own male pups.