Report: Early Abnormality in Autism
Researchers Find Placental Tissue Changes in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
In search of early markers for autism spectrum disorder, researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found abnormalities in placental tissue from children later diagnosed with the disorder.
In a report in the June 26 online issue of Biological Psychiatry, the research team told of finding a three-fold increase in placental trophoblast inclusions, a distinct abnormality, in children with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, compared to a control group of unaffected children. The inclusions are inappropriate inward folds in the outer layers of the trophoblasts, the first cells to differentiate from the fertilized egg, and the cells that enable the placenta to attach to the uterine wall.
According to the Yale team, twin and family studies have shown that autism is rooted in a person’s genes. But clinical genetic data and recent genome-wide screening studies suggest that there are multiple genetic factors and that risk factors vary greatly from one individual to another. Trophoblast inclusions, or TIs, have been associated with a number of genetic abnormalities unrelated to ASD. Although trophoblast inclusions probably apparently do not affect the function of the placenta, the researchers believe they may be a reflection of genetic predisposition that could seriously affect the developing embryo and the formation of the nervous system.
Significantly Greater Occurrences of TIs in ASD Group
In the study, the research team assessed slides of placental tissue for two groups of children: a cohort of 13 children seen from 1999 to 2005 at the Yale Child Study Center Developmental Disorders Center who met diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder, and a control cohort of 61 unaffected children. Tissue slides for both groups were masked for anonymity, mixed together and assessed in two separate readings on a slide-by-slide basis. A positive slide was defined as a slide with a least one TI noted on both reads. The slides were then assessed on a case-by-case basis, with a positive case defined as a subject with at least one positive slide.
Of the 13 members of the ASD group, 8 patients were also assigned a clinical diagnosis of autism, and five patients were assigned with pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified, or PDD-NOS, based on reviews of medical and developmental history and diagnostic testing. They were also measured for verbal and nonverbal cognitive functioning.
The chief finding of the study, according to the research team, was the approximate three-fold increase in the rate of TI positive slides for the ASD group vs. the control group. On a slide-by-slide basis, the occurrence of inclusion positive slides was significantly greater in the ASD group (6 of 27 slides, or 22.2%) vs. the control group (12 of 154 slides, or 7.8%). The proportion of positive cases was also greater in the ASD group (5 of 13 cases, or 38.5%) vs. the control group (8 of 61 cases, or 13.1%).
In the ASD Group, TI-positive and TI-negative cases scored very much alike in communication, play and imagination, and in mutual social interactions. But the TI-positive group scored slightly higher in stereotyped behaviors and limited interest. When verbal and nonverbal cognitive scores were analyzed, along with those related to perception, thinking and learning, there were no significant differences between the groups. However, the researchers did report that pregnancy complications (bleeding, preterm or premature rupture and preeclampsia) occurred more frequently among the TI positive cases (4 out of 5 vs. 2 out of 8 in the TI negative cases).
The authors concluded that although trophoblast inclusions probably do not cause any malfunctions in the placenta, their greater occurrence in ASD individuals may indicate abnormalities in early developmental processes. They state that further research is required to replicate and confirm the basic finding, to understand the fundamental cause of trophoblast inclusions and to determine the usefulness of the measure in early detection of ASD.
Early markers for autism, for which there is no known cure, are considered crucial to the risk assessment and diagnosis of autism, and for the development of early intervention techniques that will help affected children develop to their greatest possible potential. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, or NINDS, therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can bring about substantial improvement, targeting the three core symptoms that include problems with social interaction, communications difficulties, and obsessive or repetitive behaviors. The NINDS also states that many children may have some degree of mental impairment and about 20 to 30 percent develop seizures before they become adults.
According to the researchers, the control sample was presumed to represent the general population. But because it was a group convenient for the study, it is possible, the researchers write, that the control group included individuals with chromosomal abnormalities and other conditions associated with trophoblast inclusions. Therefore they theorize that the rate of inclusions observed in the control group might be somewhat greater than that seen in an assessed healthy normal control group.
The research team reported that a number of studies have found that autism is associated with an increased frequency of pregnancy complications and perinatal problems. They state that, based on family history data, it is generally believed that the complications and problems are a result of autism, rather than a cause of it. However, the researchers believe it is quite possible that the reported complications and problems may increase the severity of neurobiological abnormalities and behavioral deficits. They also believe that it will be of interest in future studies to examine the relationship between the various pregnancy complications and perinatal problems and the occurrence of TIs.
Identifying placental trophoblast inclusions may open the door to new research and clinical opportunities. TI occurrence may become part of a multi-marker panel for autism risk assessment and earlier clinical screening. The presence of inclusions in otherwise seemingly normal infants might suggest careful assessment for less obvious abnormalities, along with meticulous follow-up for any abnormalities in behavior that could be autism-related. This could help determine whether early therapeutic intervention is needed.
The authors conclude that, assuming there is replication of the current study, consideration of trophoblast physiology and developmental biology may provide insight into the neurodevelopmental abnormalities of autism.
Authors: Anderson, G. M.ab, Jacobs-Stannard, A.c, Chawarska, K.a, Volkman, F. R.a, Kliman, H. J.c
aThe Yale Child Study Center, b Department of Laboratory Medicine, cDepartment of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
For further reading:
1. American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.). (1994) American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC.
2. Autism Spectrum Disorders (Pervasive Developmental Disorders). National Mental Health Institute, National Institutes of Medicine. Accessed 8/17/06. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/autism.cfm.
3. Bailey A et al. Autism as a strongly genetic disorder: evidence from a British twin study. Psychol. Med. 1995; 25: 63-77.
4. Bolton PF et al. Obstetric complications in autism: consequences or causes of the condition? J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry1997; 36(2): 272-281.
5. Boyd JD and Hamilton WJ. The Human Placenta. W. Heffer & Sons Ltd., Cambridge (1970).
6. Burd et al. Prenatal and perinatal risk factors for autism. J Perinat Med1999; 27(6): 441-450.
7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services. How common are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)? Accessed 8/23/06. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/asd_common.htm
8. Hultman CM, Sparen P, Cnattingius S. Perinatal risk factors for infantile autism. Epidemiology 2002; 13(4): 417-423.
9. Kliman HJ, Segel L. The placenta may predict the baby. J Theor Biol2003; 225: 143-145.
10. Larsson HJ et al. (2005) Risk factors for autism: perinatal factors, parental psychiatric history, and socioeconomic status. Am J Epidemio.2005; 161(10): 916-925.
11. Trophoblast. Wikipedia. Accessed 8/14/06. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiiki/Trophoblast
12. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health.
Autism Fact Sheet. Accessed 7/28/06. Available at: www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm
13. Zwaigenbaum P et al. Pregnancy and birth complications in autism and liability to the broader autism phenotype. (2002) J Am Acad Child Adoles. Psychiatry 2002; 41(5): 572- 579.
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.