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Autism may Spring up during Pregnancy: UK Research

Updated at: Apr 09, 2014
Written by: Bhadra KamalasananPublished at: Apr 09, 2014
Autism may Spring up during Pregnancy: UK Research

An emerging research finds that autism develops right at the time of pregnancy and is characterised by patches in the cortex.

A new, emerging research shows that autism begins right when the mother is pregnant with the baby. The research was done after analysing 25 genes in postmortem brain tissue of children with as well as without autism. The genes included those that serve in the form of biomarkers for types of brain cells in different layers of the cortex, several control genes and the genes that were implicated in autism.

The findings of the study were published in the online edition of New England Journal of Medicine.

autism develops in the wombThe director of the Autism Center of Excellence at University of California, Eric Courchesne, said that building of a baby’s brain at the time of pregnancy begins with the creation of cortex that has about 6 layers. When doing the study, the researchers found focal patches of disrupted development in these cortical layers among a majority of children who had autism.
The positive outcome of the study was that some children had the possibility of improving their condition with the help of early therapeutic intervention. A unique three-dimensional model that visualised the locations in the brain where the cortex had the disrupted patches was made for better understanding of the brain’s development pattern.

During the early stage of brain development, each of the six cortical layers has their own types of brain cells. Each of these cells has specific patterns of brain connectivity that perform important as well as unique roles in the processing of information.

The research finding that defects in the cortex occur in patches gives hope on the improvement of autism with therapy.

Image courtesy: Getty Images


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