Researchers at UC Davis released their new findings in Translational Psychiatry examining a history of maternal immune and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
According to a UC Davis team, children with autism born to mothers with immune conditions during pregnancy are at a greater risk of developing behavioral or emotional problems.
The results were tested by examining 363 mothers, and 363 children: the majority of which were males. The participants originated from the Autism Phenome Project and Girls with Autism Imaging of Neurodevelopment study.
For the mothers, maternal immune conditions were depicted as a dysfunction of their immune system, typically manifesting in symptoms such as asthma, allergies, and autoimmune or autoinflammatory diseases.
Among the children, their severity of autism was assessed by any characterization of emotional and behavioral traits. The cognitive functioning of the young participants was also assessed.
In the study, close to 27 percent of the caregivers experienced an immune condition during their pregnancy. The most prevalent condition was asthma. Skin disease, hair loss, blood circulation disease, and hypothyroidism, were all also common conditions.
In their findings, researchers uncovered that maternal immune conditions could lead to more behavioral or emotional problems among children with autism. Cognitive functioning, however, was not affected.
A history of maternal immune conditions was more correlated with male children diagnosed with autism, in comparison to the opposing gender.
“A history of maternal immune conditions was more common in male children with ASD, compared to female children. Maternal immune conditions were associated with increased behavioural and emotional problems in male and female children,” the findings showed.
“Results showed that maternal asthma was the most common immune condition reported in mothers of children with ASD.”
“The findings demonstrate that MIA may influence the expression of symptoms in children with ASD and outcomes may vary between males and females,” researchers concluded in their article.