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Category: prenatal care (Page 2 of 2)

Newborn screening for autism – 3 sets of 5 potential biomarkers

I bought the research study regarding newborn screening for autism and it is exciting but was based on a small number of patients with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (n=16, control group n=32).

  1. Newborn screening for autism: in search of candidate biomarkers. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23547820 ]

The research study evaluated the newborn umbilical cord blood for 90 biomarkers (various types of lab tests), 76 biomarkers were found to have consistant data available for all study subjects,  and three sets of five biomarkers were found to be consistently increased or decreased in the infants who were diagnosed with autism later in life compared to the infants in the control group (the research study only used patients with an autism diagnosis who had been screened and diagnosed by the same physician in order to reduce risk of inconsistent diagnostic standards in the experimental group (n=16).

The three sets of five biomarkers need to be tested with a larger group of children with autism diagnoses to see if the results can be repeated. Feasibly to save money on lab tests all newborns might be screened with the set of five most predictive lab tests and the infants who are positive for those five might then be screened for the second set of five tests or all ten of the other biomarkers. The fifteen biomarkers include calcitonin (increased) and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH, decreased). Low TSH levels can cause increased calcitonin levels which causes reduced blood calcium levels. Elevated blood levels of calcium may cause an increase in calcitonin and having adequate levels of hormone 1, 25 D may be necessary for keeping calcitonin levels within a normal range. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442503/]

Vitamin D was not one of the 90 lab tests that were included in this research study, however the sibling study performed in Sweden suggested that low vitamin D at birth is involved but that other factors are also involved because all of the children born to Somalian refugees were found to have low vitamin D so that lab value would not be helpful as a screening test. 2) Swedish Study Suggests Low Vitamin D at Birth May Increase Autism Risk [https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/swedish-study-suggests-low-vitamin-d-birth-may-increase-autism-risk]

Alpha feto-protein (AFP) is one of the fifteen biomarkers found to be predictive for autism later in life. Levels of AFP have been found to be increased in both the mothers of infants who develop autism later in life and in the infants who develop autism later in life. Buy the research study to find out the other twelve – feasibly a concerned parent (with money and a cooperative physician) might be able to have their newborn’s blood screened for the fifteen biomarkers on their own initiative, right away, rather than waiting for the mainstream medical industry to do further research studies.

— The fact that autism was unknown in Somalia suggests that it is unlikely to be a naturally occurring condition and that it is unlikely to be caused by a lack of anti-autism medicine or by the lack of an anti-autism vaccination, so waiting for the for-profit medical industry to devise a for-profit strategy to prevent autism seems like it might take awhile. Concerned parents should have a right to seek effective care for their children and for themselves.

Autism seems to be a condition that occurs prenatally which leaves the newborn infant with metabolic differences but who otherwise appears normal and then, depending on nutritional and environmental conditions, at around age two to four the child’s development shifts towards symptoms of autism. The goal of newborn screening would be to identify which infants are most at risk for that later shift towards autism so that they might be able to be given additional care in order to prevent the damaging autoimmune like changes to the child’s brain. A few different genetic defects that affect nutrient needs may be involved so a newborn who is identified as high risk for developing autism symptoms later in life might then benefit from being screened for genetic defects in the methylation cycle, or with the vitamin D binding protein, or with hemoglobin metabolism. Infants identified as more at risk for autism later in life may also benefit from being screened for hypothyroidism, iodine deficiency, or an excess of bromide, chloride and fluoride.

In summary, for now, this is complicated but very exciting — we have the information we need in order to help women prevent autism before conception and to help identify which newborns may be more at risk for developing autism symptoms later in life so that we can help give the infants the additional nutritional and environmental support that might help them prevent the longterm autoimmune like brain damage from ever occurring.

Older individuals who already have autism diagnoses may also be helped by additional nutritional and environmental support (reduce their exposure to pollutants and foods or foods additives that their unique metabolism can’t digest as well as average) but a “cure” for the changes that already occurred in the brain may not be possible for children and adults who have already been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Individualized nutritional support might help reduce negative symptoms and improve quality of life for patients who already have an autism diagnosis.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

A few perinatal tips that may help reduce risk of autism for the expected infant

The term Perinatal generally refers to the one to three months prior to conception. A woman might be advised about healthy diet and exercise habits during perinatal health education and would likely be encouraged to take a prenatal vitamin supplement during a time when she is trying to conceive.

The summary of potential risks associated with autism in the last post suggest that there are two basic groups of health tips for reducing risk of autism perinatally or prenatally:

  • tips for avoiding toxins from the environment; or for reducing internal production of toxins that are a result of the stress response, or are due to undiagnosed metabolic defects;
  • and tips for increasing intake of healthy nutrients; or strategies for identifying and treating any undiagnosed metabolic defects or low-grade chronic infections that may be causing nutrient imbalances or deficiencies.

This first set of tips will focus more on avoiding toxins from the environment and includes primarily recommendations that are already standard for perinatal or prenatal health.

For a woman of reproductive age:

  1. Don’t have unprotected sex after drinking a Rum and Diet Cola that is sweetened with aspartame/Nutrasweet.
  2.  Don’t have unprotected sex after drinking a Rum and regular cola either or any other beverages that contain alcohol.
  3. After drinking a Diet beverage that is sweetened with aspartame/Nutrasweet, don’t have unprotected sex with a male partner who has been drinking alcohol in excess. (A male’s alcohol intake during the few days prior to sexual relations may increase a baby’s risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome so it may also be involved in the infant’s risk for autism – more research is needed but in the meantime we do know conclusively that alcohol and Nutrasweet isn’t good for fetuses. Males produce sperm throughout their lives while women develop a large number of eggs during the fetal stage which are then released one or a few at a time each month throughout her reproductive years, approximately from age 10-12 through age 45-55. A woman’s health habits during a pregnancy with a female fetus will be affecting the health of any potential grandchildren that the daughter may have later in her life.)
  4. A regular cola or root beer may be better choices for beverages to drink before having unprotected sex. Brominated vegetable oil may be a food additive in citrus flavored beverages such as Mountain Dew and the chemical is in the same group as the flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers which have been associated with brain development problems in children, fertility problems, and increased risk for hypothyroidism and cancer.[http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/20130129/brominated-vegetable-oil-qa?page=2]
  5. If you are a woman with leprosy being treated with thalidomide then do your best to not have unprotected sex, possibly invest in a longterm family planning method such as an IUD or Essure for use during the treatment with thalidomide.
  6. If you are a woman being treated with valproic acid for bipolar disorder, migraines or for some other reason then do your best to not have unprotected sex, possibly invest in a longterm family planning method such as an IUD or Essure for use during the treatment with valproic acid.
  7. If you are a woman being treated for autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, or depression then it may be a good idea to not have unprotected sex at least while your disease is in a more severe stage. It might be a good idea to invest in a longterm family planning method such as an IUD or Essure for use while you’re being treated for a severe chronic disease or mental illness. Rubella, cytomegalovirus, stress, and allergic reactions have also been associated with increased risk for autism, so avoiding unprotected sex during acute sickness, stress, or allergy flair-ups might also be a good idea.
  8. In case you missed the theme – try to avoid having unprotected sex unless you are healthy and toxin free and your partner is also – it is not easy to grow a baby. And if you are in a relationship with someone who is not willing to discuss or plan for a safer pregnancy then it may be worth ending the relationship or seeking help. [http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-sexassault-coercion-idUSKCN0R42CD20150904] (In the U.S. call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support and referrals: 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY), http://www.thehotline.org/ )

The perinatal time period is a time to prepare a healthy and welcoming environment so the egg and sperm will be able to successfully implant as a healthy little zygote (the fetal stage where the egg and sperm have combined into a single cell). “One-half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended.”Population Connection [From a handout: “Our Mission At Population Connection is Critical!,” 15AK-1l]

If we hope to reduce the rate of children born in the U.S. who later develop autism, and it is a problem that develops during the early weeks of pregnancy, then we really need to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies. If autism is able to be prevented in the first week of pregnancy then women will need to either always be healthy and ready for an unexpected pregnancy (because rapists wouldn’t want their love power-and-domination-child to be autistic, surely?) or women will need to plan and prepare before trying to become pregnant so that their body will be as healthy and as ready to receive the implantation of the zygote as possible.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

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