Friday, 13 December 2013

Link Between Autism and Maternal Nutrition

I was forwarded this article by Psychology Today which draws parallels between older fathers and autism.  This is something I've seen before but there was a shocking twist towards the end.  The author, Christopher Badcock, suggests that "better than average nutrition for the mother during gestation ought to correlate with the increased risk of autism because it mimics resource-demanding paternal genes such as IGF2."  IGF2 promotes fetal growth.

I won't pretend to understand how more nutrition could mimic the effect of more mature sperm but Dr. Badcock says his theory could explain why autism is generally seen more among affluent families.  It would link the rise in autism to the rise in maternal health and could even explain the timing of the discovery of the disease.  Birth weights rose after World War II, which is when both Kanner and Asperger noticed a trend of children who seemed determinedly oblivious to the world around them.

It's an interesting theory and I'm hoping no one starts to starve pregnant women so that they don't have autistic children. 

The fact that autism is more commonly diagnosed in Western society does bother me.  I've wondered if it is because these children are simply pushed aside and end up discarded or starving in more survival oriented societies.  Alex required very time-consuming efforts to create food he could eat.  If I were a mother on the verge of starvation with four or five other children to also feed, I might not have had the time or material to find a way to coax food into him.  A child who doesn't fit socially would have a hard time in a communally based society. 

I'm not quite sure what to think about the article or the theory.  I would like to see if someone is doing research to test if autism is actually more prevalent or if it is just noticed more when parents don't have to worry about basic survival.

No comments:

Post a Comment