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University of California Davis MIND Institute researchers have determined that there is a link between a subtype of autism which is combined with intellectual disability and a high level of inflammation during the second trimester of pregnancy. In the recent study the expectant mothers were determined to have two different inflammatory proteins responsible for controlling the communication between immune system cells in higher levels. The presence of higher levels of these inflammatory proteins, cytokines and chemokines, indicates an increased risk for this autism subtype.

According to UC Davis Center for Children’s Environmental Health director, Internal Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology professor, UC Davis MIND Institute researcher, and senior study author Dr. Judy Van de Water “Inflammation during the second trimester in the mothers of children with autism who also have intellectual disability was significantly greater than in mothers of children autism without intellectual disability in our study. However, equally significant was that profiles of mothers whose children go on to be diagnosed with autism and intellectual disability differed markedly from those whose children have intellectual disability without autism, as well as from the typically developing general population. Their profiles are distinct from all of the other groups that we studied, based on their cytokine and chemokine profiles. This finding suggests an avenue that we will explore to potentially identify possible markers to separate sub-phenotypes in the autism population.”

The goal of the study on biomarkers, autism, and inflammation was to evaluate various biomarkers. MIND Institute director Dr. Leonard Abbeduto explained “This study is incredibly valuable because it helps us understand more about the sources of variability within autism spectrum disorder, providing important insights into the different neurobiological mechanisms underlying important subtypes of the disorder. At the same time, the study reinforces the importance of the maternal immune system in to a host of child outcomes. Most importantly, this study brings us closer to knowing how to prevent adverse developmental outcomes.”