UC Davis Researchers Make Autism Breakthrough

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UC Davis is one step closer to understanding autism.

Researchers from the Mind Institute released a landmark study that suggests women with certain anti-brain antibodies are more likely to give birth to autistic children.

“I always felt something was going on with Fintan more than just behavior. We went down many avenues to try and get help for him that way and had many doors shut,” said Jackie Murphy, a mother of an autistic child.

After having two children, Murphy was shocked to learn her third child suffered from autism.

She later tested positive for the anti-brain antibodies.

“It is quite frightening to find out that you are positive for something like that and the profound affect that it could have on your child,” said Murphy.

The antibodies can attack proteins critical to brain development in the womb.

“When you get sick you produce anti-bodies. This is part of your immune system. That is not something that is under your control,” said Dr. Melissa Bauman, an assistant professor at UC Davis.

The research could lead to earlier detection of autism which can often help improve the child’s condition later in life.

“When you have an 18 month old child and you are waiting four months to get in and get help that is a large portion of that child’s life and a large portion of developmental activity that could be going on,” said Murphy.

The study could also lead to tests that tell women whether they carry the antibodies and eventually drugs to block them during pregnancy.

“These studies certainly need to be replicated. We are at the very early stages of understanding how these antibodies may be playing for families with autism,” said Bauman.

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