Latest Autism Research Shows Prevention Starts in the Womb

pregnantIt's virtually impossible to treat a disease without knowing the cause, which pretty much sums up the battle to find a cure for autism. But the latest findings might signal an end to the years of frustratingly inconclusive research, because now we have a new way to look at autism: As a type of inflammatory disease ... beginning in the womb.

See, most difficult-to-treat modern-day epidemics fall into the category of "inflammatory" diseases (including asthma and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and lupus). All of these stem from something called "immune dysregulation," which is basically what happens when the immune system goes into overdrive and attacks everything in sight.

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All of that immune dysregulation can be explained by the "hygiene hypothesis," or the theory that our overly sanitized society is behind that steady uptick in severe allergies (which are much less common in developing, i.e. less overly sanitized, countries). The only difference with autism?

Those critical misfires are happening in the brain. And they start happening before a baby is even born.

Here's the good news: This discovery means that if a medication could be developed to safely control inflammation during pregnancy, autism would, potentially, be largely preventable. We don't have that medication yet. But even probiotics (some have anti-inflammatory properties) might help -- in any case, taking a good quality supplement won't hurt.

Are you concerned about autism prevention?

 

Image via tofslie/Flickr

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