Identified Triggers to Maternal Immune Dysfunction
Inflammatory Flares During Pregnancy May Trigger Autism
Reproductive immunologists have long since known that a mother's immune
system may affect her ability to initiate and maintain a pregnancy. Rather
than protecting a developing fetus, an overly active maternal immune system
can view the developing embryo as an invader and "attack" it
instead. Often, this leads to problems with embryo implantation or sustainability.
Recent studies now indicate that a mother's immune system may not only
affect the viability of the pregnancy, but also the cognitive development
of future offspring.
These studies imply the following:
An inflammatory flare during the second trimester of pregnancy appears
to increase the risk of having a child with
autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- The risk seems to be even higher for women who have a prior history of
miscarriages and / or have already given birth to an autistic child
fetuses with a genetic predisposition to autism, an assault by a mother's immune system seems to trigger the development of ASD
Worldwide research is currently being conducted on what triggers maternal
immune dysfunction and, in turn, may trigger
autism development. It is the hope of some researchers that treating the identified
causes of inflammatory flares during pregnancy may hinder a possible domino
effect leading to autism manifestation.
Illness May Initiate Immune System Dysfunction
Individuals with autoimmune disorders experience an increase of symptoms
during periods of illness, stress, or fatigue. These inflammatory flares
are the result of their immune system's inappropriate response to
an infection or other medical ailment. In the case of undiagnosed patients,
these flares may go undetected or written off as a normal byproduct of
Exaggerated inflammation due to illness can be particularly troublesome
for pregnant women, especially in light of recent studies that have linked
them to an increased risk of having an autistic child.
The illnesses implicated in these studies include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Fever due to viruses, such as the flu
- Bacterial infections
- Metabolic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity
Many of the studies concluded that the risk of ASD development was increased
if an infection occurred during the second trimester, a critical time
of fetal brain development.
Connection between autoimmune and ASD triggers?
While the cause of autoimmune diseases and autism has yet to be completely
identified, scientists agree that there are both genetic and external
factors involved in their development. An individual may have a predisposition
for the disorder and then something external may activate its progression.
This similarity is intriguing because recent studies have found that 40%
of autistic children have one or more family members with an autoimmune
disorder. How the medical issues are related and the possibility of shared
trigger factors is the basis of continuing research.
will often counsel their patients to avoid agents known to exasperate inflammatory
symptoms. Triggers can include:
- Gluten, especially in celiac patients
- Environmental toxins
Treating autoimmune patients during pregnancy is especially complicated.
While there is some commonality, not all patients react the same way to
every trigger. Monitoring and treatment plans should be specifically tailored
to the structure of an autoimmune diagnosis.
recognized world leader in reproductive immunology, we have created the first fully comprehensive immune panel in the nation
to decipher the functionality of the entire immune system and how it reacts
to triggering factors. Additionally, Braverman Reproductive Immunology
has the capability to test the embryos of IVF patients for known genetic
predispositions for autism. Our practice is uniquely qualified to look
into the triggers of maternal autoimmune dysfunction and the incidence
of autism development.
Currently, our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Braverman, is moderating an online
dialog to gather further information regarding the correlation of autoimmune
disease and ASD. We feel this area of discussion is particularly important
to women who have an autistic child, a history of miscarriages, and are
contemplating the risks of an additional pregnancy. Potential mothers
who fit this category are highly encouraged to join our discussion forum.
It is our goal to learn more about the possible connection between autoimmune
disorders and ASD through the candid sharing of experiences and the exchange
of relevant medical advice