Category Archives: autism

Possible link between autism in children and inadequate iron supplementation during pregnancy

image_mediumMost people are aware of the many different efforts being made by researchers to understand the cause of autism. Suspected culprits have ranged from vaccinations containing the preservative thimerosal, to mercury, lead, pesticides and genetics. These links have been creating controversial debate for years. New research, however, is pointing in a new and different direction

Mothers of children with autism are significantly less likely to report taking iron supplements before and during their pregnancies than the mothers of children who are developing normally, a study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute has found.

Low iron intake was associated with a five-fold greater risk of autism in the child if the mother was 35 or older at the time of the child’s birth or if she suffered from metabolic conditions such as obesity hypertension or diabetes.

The research is the first to examine the relationship between maternal iron intake and having a child with autism spectrum disorder, the authors said. The study, “Maternal intake of supplemental iron and risk for autism spectrum disorders,” is published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

“The association between lower maternal iron intake and increased ASD risk was strongest during breastfeeding, after adjustment for folic acid intake,” said Rebecca J. Schmidt, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and a researcher affiliated with the MIND Institute.

The authors of the current study in 2011 were the first to report associations between supplemental folic acid and reduced risk for autism spectrum disorder, a finding later replicated in larger scale investigations.

“Further, the risk associated with low maternal iron intake was much greater when the mother was also older and had metabolic conditions during her pregnancy.”

The study was conducted in mother-child pairs enrolled in the Northern California-based Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study between 2002 and 2009. The participants included mothers of children with autism and 346 mothers of children with typical development.

The researchers examined maternal iron intake among the study’s participants, including vitamins, other nutritional supplements, and breakfast cereals during the three months prior to through the end of the women’s pregnancies and breastfeeding. The mothers’ daily iron intake was examined, including the frequency, dosages and the brands of supplements that they consumed.

“Iron deficiency, and its resultant anemia, is the most common nutrient deficiency, especially during pregnancy, affecting 40 to 50 percent of women and their infants,” Schmidt said. “Iron is crucial to early brain development, contributing to neurotransmitter production, myelination and immune function. All three of these pathways have been associated with autism.”

“Iron deficiency is pretty common, and even more common among women with metabolic conditions,” Schmidt said. “However we want to be cautious and wait until this study has been replicated.

“In the meantime the takeaway message for women is do what your doctor recommends. Take vitamins throughout pregnancy, and take the recommended daily dosage. If there are side effects, talk to your doctor about how to address them.” understands that most of us are related to or at least personally know a child with autism. There’s a reason for that. Incidences of autism are still on the rise. According to the CDC, one in every 68 children has an autism spectrum disorder. And that’s up from one in 88 just two short years ago. Researchers are working intensely to find some key to this growing — and often heartbreaking — disorder so that more can be done to help affected children, and to work towards the prevention of Autism.

Pre-natal mercury exposure and autism link refuted is well aware that for years, expectant mothers have been advised to avoid consuming fish with low levels of mercury. There’s been a concern that the chemical may be responsible for behavioral disorders such as autism. With the numerous nutritional benefits fish can bring to both mother and unborn child, we were happy to read some information today that disputes these concerns.

A new study coming out of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Department of Public Health Sciences, the Seychelles Ministries of Health and Education, and the University of Ulster in Ireland, is reporting that there is no association between pre-natal mercury exposure and autism-like behaviors. The study draws upon more than 30 years of research in the Republic of Seychelles. The Republic of Seychelles is an ideal location to examine the potential health impact of persistent low level mercury exposure. With a population of 87,000 people spread across an archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean, fishing is a both an important industry and a primary source of nutrition – the nation’s residents consume fish at a rate 10 times greater than the populations of the U.S. and Europe.

The Seychelles Child Development Study – a partnership between URMC, the Seychelles Ministries of Health and Education, and the University of Ulster in Ireland – was created in the mid-1980s to specifically study the impact of fish consumption and mercury exposure on childhood development. The program is one of the largest ongoing epidemiologic studies of its kind.

The study followed 1,784 children, adolescents, young adults and their mothers. Researchers first determined the level of prenatal mercury exposure by analyzing hair samples collect from mothers at the time of birth.

The researchers then used two questionnaires to determine whether or not the study participants were exhibiting autism spectrum-like behaviors. The Social Communication Questionnaire was completed by the children’s parents and the Social Responsiveness Scale was completed by their teachers. These tests – which include questions on language skills, social communication, and repetitive behaviors – do not provide a definitive diagnosis, but they are widely used in the U.S. as an initial screening tool and may suggest the need for additional evaluation.

The mercury levels of the mothers were then matched with the test scores of their children and the researchers found that there was no correlation between prenatal exposure and evidence of autism-spectrum-like behaviors.

There’s been an ongoing debate regarding fish consumption for expectant mothers. There are so many nutritional benefits from fish … vitamin E, lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids (which aid in fetal brain development), to name a few. But at the same time there has been serious concern regarding exposure to mercury and developmental problems for unborn children. Because of this the FDA has recommended that women limit fish consumption during pregnancy. Researchers noted that further study is needed in order to produce conclusive results. looks forward to understanding more about the relationship between mercury and autism-related behaviors, as well as the prenatal benefits of fish consumption. Fish is healthy protein that provides important nutrients for healthy development. We look forward to further research that may possibly add fish back into the pregnancy diet – both for the enjoyment of the mother and the healthy growth of the unborn child.

Eating healthy fats during pregnancy may decrease autism risk for baby has always been very concerned about the trend steering people away from the consumption of any fats. Fats are actually important for our health and well-being. The trend away from fat consumption can be concerning for many reasons. One of the essential problems with lower fat or fat free products is what manufacturers need to add to ingredient lists to make such products appetizing. And, of course, a problem can ensue with the avoidance of any fat at all. Some fats are good for you.

And a new study strongly suggests that good fats are good for babies growing in their mother’s wombs. Women who eat certain types of healthy fat during pregnancy may reduce their risk of having a child with autism.

In the study, women who consumed high levels of linoleic acid a type of omega-6 fatty acid found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds were 34 percent less likely to give birth to a child with autism compared with women who consumed low levels of the nutrient. The results provide preliminary evidence that increased maternal intake of omega-6 fatty acids could, in fact, reduce the risk of offspring with autism spectrum disorder. It’s important to note that the study found an association – and not a cause-and-effect-link, between a pregnant woman’s fatty-acid consumption and a decreased risk of having a child with autism. While the reason for the link remains unknown and points to the need for further study, researchers note that fatty-acid consumption is important for the brain development of a fetus.

The study found only an association, and not a cause-and-effect link, between pregnant women’s fatty-acid consumption and a decreased risk of having a child with autism. In addition, the study was small, and future research will be needed to confirm the results, the researchers said.

The new study included 317 mothers who had a child with autism and 17,728 mothers who had a child without autism. Participants answered questions about the types of food they ate. The researchers noted that 5,884 women in the study completed the questionnaire during their pregnancy, while the rest completed it within about a year after being pregnant.

The researchers noted that consuming high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids did not further decrease the risk of autism compared with the risk for women who consumed average amounts. This suggests that although getting too little omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of autism, once a certain threshold is reached, further consumption doesn’t provide an extra benefit, the researchers said.

The researchers took into account other factors that might have influenced the risk of autism, such as the mother’s age, total calorie intake and smoking status during pregnancy. But it’s possible that other factors not included in the study may explain the link. wants to encourage all of us to feel good about consuming healthy fats. Nutritional awareness is such an important concept for all of us. And this new study points out that it’s even more important for expectant mothers to understand the nutritional importance of the foods they consume.

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