In other news, researchers at my local University of California at Davis have linked maternal antibodies to autism, saying that they may be responsible for 23 percent of cases, and opening possibilities of tests or prevention treatments.
UC Davis researchers believe they have discovered the cause of as much as 23 percent of autism cases, pinpointing antibodies in some mothers that attack proteins needed for fetal brain development.
Mothers of some children with autism were more than 21 times as likely to have the specific antibodies in their blood as mothers who did not have autism, according to the study, published online Tuesday by the journal Translational Psychiatry.
The discovery could lead to a diagnostic test for women considering pregnancy that could predict a child’s chance of developing what the researchers are calling “maternal autoantibody-related” (MAR) autism.
Such a test could lead to more accurate diagnosis of children with autism and to the development of a drug capable of blocking the antibodies, protecting the brain of a fetus.
“We hope that, one day, we can tell a mother more precisely what her antibody profile means for her child, then target interventions more effectively,” principal investigator Judy Van de Water of the MIND Institute said in a news release.
A separate, related study, also published Tuesday by the same journal, found that exposure to the maternal antibodies affected the behavior and development of rhesus monkeys.