Friday, March 07, 2008
Autism and Maternal Antibodies On The Johns Hopkins News-Letter
In Maternal antibodies may cause autism, published in the March 6, 2008, issue of The John Hopkins Newsletter Sam Ohmer discusses the recent study led by Hopkins pediatric neurologist Harvey Singer suggesting a possible connection between maternal antibodies and autism. The study focused on the role of the immune system in causing autism.
Singer and his group found that, in some cases of autism, pregnant women's bodies actually raise antibodies against their babies, which sets off a series of events that slowed the normal development of the infants' brains.
The team found that mothers of children with autism had heightened levels of certain antibodies during their pregnancies. "The presence of specific antibodies correlated with the presence of developmental regression in the affected child," Singer said.
"About 40 percent of mothers with autistic offspring had significant differences on Western immunoblots," Singer said, referring to analyses conducted on fetal fluids to measure levels of certain anti-brain antibodies.
This finding suggests that there may be a truly devastating link between maternal antibodies and autism. Singer's team and others are now moving toward a greater understanding of the causes of the illness.
The next step of the research is aimed at trying to discover which proteins are engaged in this immunological backfiring, in hopes of being able to prevent this process.