Major twin study shows environment plays role in development of autism
A study of nearly 400 twins revealed that environmental factors have been underestimated, and genetics overestimated, in autism.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that the children’s environment represents more than half of the susceptibility — 55 percent in the most severe form of autism and 58 percent in the broad spectrum of the disorder — while genetics is involved in 37 percent and 38 percent of the risk, respectively. This was the largest and most carefully conducted twin study on the genetics of autism.
Press release here.
High blood pressure in early pregnancy raises risk of birth defects
There has been concern that women with high blood pressure who take ACE inhibitors during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with birth defects. Current research adds to the discussion.
A new study, published online in the British Medical Journal, suggests that these birth defects can occur even without treating the existing hypertension with ACE inhibitors.
Prenatal and early childhood bisphenol A concentrations and behavior in school-aged children
BPA was measured in urine in expectant mothers, and then in children at age 5 years. This study adds to the existing literature showing associations of early life BPA exposure with behavior problems, including anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity in children. Additional information about timing of exposure and sex differences in effect is still needed.
Prenatal omega-3 fatty acids may reduce babies’ colds
An Emory University study published online in Pediatrics suggests consuming Omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy helps protects babies against illness during early infancy. The trial followed approximately 1,100 pregnant women and 900 infants in Mexico. The women were supplemented daily with 400 mg of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) supplements in the algal form or placebo from 18 to 22 weeks gestation through childbirth.
Researchers found those whose mothers took DHA supplements had fewer colds and shorter illnesses at one, three and six months of age. “Our findings indicate that pregnant women taking 400 mg of DHA are more likely to deliver healthier infants.”
Low weight babies five times more likely to have autism spectrum disorder
Babies born weighing less that 4.4 pounds have a greater chance of being diagnosed with autism or a related spectrum disorder. Previous studies showed an association between low birth weight, prematurity and increased risk of motor and cognitive disability. This research clarifies the link to autism.
Preemie exposure to parents’ voice encourages vocalizations
New evidence suggests that very preterm infants are cared for in an environment that usually has little adult language. They tend to make vocalizations before their expected due dates and these increase over time. In addition, infants vocalize significantly more when a parent is visiting.These findings support the powerful effects of parents visiting in the neonatal intensive care unit on the emergence of early vocalizations among preterm infants. Exposure to parental talk was a stronger predictor of infant vocalizations at 32 weeks than language from other adults.