Children born to mothers with a hormonal imbalance run a much higher risk of developing autism, according to a new study released by Sweden's Karolinska Institutet on Tuesday.
The findings, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, link an imbalance called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children.In The Politics of Autism, I write:
ASD represents a range of neurodevelopmental disorders in children.
Because scientists lack a grand theory of autism causation – not to mention accurate knowledge of how autism prevalence has changed over the years – research has moved in a bewildering array of directions. Here is just a partial list of correlates, risk factors, and possible causes that have been the subject of serious peer-reviewed studies:
- Air pollution and proximity to freeways;[ii]
- Maternal thyroid issues;[iii]
- Autoimmune disorders;[iv]
- Induced labor;[v]
- Preterm birth;[vi]
- Birth by cesarean section;[vii]
- Maternal and paternal obesity;[viii]
- Maternal and paternal age;[ix]
- Maternal post-traumatic stress disorder;[x]
- Smoking during pregnancy;[xi]
- Antidepressant use during pregnancy.[xii]
[i] Janie F. Shelton, Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides: The CHARGE Study ,” Environmental Health Perspectives, June 23, 2014 (advance publication). Online: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/advpub/2014/6/ehp.1307044.pdf.[ii] Andrea L. Roberts et al., “Perinatal Air Pollutant Exposures and Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Children of Nurses’ Health Study II Participants,” Environmental Health Perspectives 121 (August 2013): 978-984. Online: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/121/8/ehp.1206187.pdf; Heather E. Volk et al., “Residential Proximity to Freeways and Autism in the CHARGE Study,” Environmental Health Perspectives 119 (June 2011): 873-877. Online: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/119/6/ehp.1002835.pdf.[iii] Gustavo C. Román, et al., “Association of Gestational Maternal Hypothyroxinemia and Increased Autism Risk,” Annals of Neurology 74 (November 2013): 733-742. Online: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ana.23976/full.[iv] Lior Brimberg, et al., “Brain-Reactive IgG Correlates with Autoimmunity in Mothers of a Child With an Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Molecular Psychiatry 18 (November 2013): 1171-1177. Online: http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v18/n11/full/mp2013101a.html.[v] Simon G. Gregory, et al., “Association of Autism With Induced or Augmented Childbirth in North Carolina Birth Record (1990-1998) and Education Research (1997-2007) Databases,” JAMA Pediatrics 167 (October 2013): 959-966. Online: http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1725449.[vi] Michael W. Kuzniewicz et al., “Prevalence and Neonatal Factors Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Preterm Infants,” Journal of Pediatrics 164 (January 2014): 20-25. Online: http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(13)01142-6/abstract?cc=y..[vii] Eileen A. Curran et al., “Research Review: Birth By Caesarean Section and Development Of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (October 27, 2014). Online: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcpp.12351/pdf.[viii] L C Reynolds, et al., “Maternal Obesity and Increased Risk for Autism and Developmental Delay among Very Preterm Infants,” Journal of Perinatology, May 8, 2014 (advance publication). Online: http://www.nature.com/jp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/jp201480a.html; Pål Surén et al., “Parental Obesity and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Pediatrics 133 (May 2014): e1128-e1138. Online: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/04/02/peds.2013-3664.full.pdf+html[ix] John McGrath, et al., “A Comprehensive Assessment of Parental Age and Psychiatric Disorders,” JAMA Psychiatry 71 (March 2014): 301-309. Online: http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1814892; Selma Idring et al., “Parental Age and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Findings from a Swedish Population-Based Cohort,” International Journal of Epidemiology 43 (February 2014): 107-115. Online: http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/43/1/107.full.pdf+html.[x] Andrea L. Roberts et al., “Women's Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Autism Spectrum Disorder in Their Children,” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 8 (June 2014): 608-616. Online: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1750946714000427.[xi] Phuong Lien Tran, et al., “Smoking during Pregnancy and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Finnish National Birth Cohort,” Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 27 (May 2013): 266–274. Online: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ppe.12043/full.[xii] Rebecca A. Harrington, et al., “Prenatal SSRI Use and Offspring with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Developmental Delay,” Pediatrics 133 (May 2014): e1241 -e1248. Online: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/133/5/e1241.