Maternal Antibodies May Be Closely Connected to Autism

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New research suggests that nearly a quarter of all autism cases may be connected to the presence of certain maternal antibodies.

The study published in the scientific journal Translational Psychiatry suggests that those antibodies could interfere with fetal brain development during pregnancy.

Joining The Takeaway is the study's lead author Dr. Judy Van de Water, a Department of Internal Medicine professor at the School of Medicine UC Davis MIND Institute. Dr. Van de Water’s laboratory research includes the biological aspects of autism spectrum disorders including immune dysfunction and autoantibody production. In addition, her current work involves the identification of maternal antibodies to fetal brain proteins found in some mothers of children with autism. She fills us in on what this research means for people with autism and their families. 

Jackie Murphy is a mother who participated in the study and is already embracing the results. She is the mother of an 8-year-old autistic child.

"I can say for our family, for me myself, I did want to have more children," she tells The Takeaway. "But knowing that I was positive for these antibodies, and knowing how affected my son is, I was able to make the choice that I was not going to have any more children because I have other children to care for, and our son who is affected and needs a lot of attention."

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