A new study by the University of California at San Diego has found indications of autism in the womb. During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, researchers were able to isolate differences in the brain development of infants who went on to later be diagnosed with autism:
“The area UCSD researchers homed in on is just a quarter of an inch in size. Ten of the autistic children showed the problem in the prefrontal cortex, which dictates communication and social skills.
The outer layer of babies’ brains form six layers at those stages of pregnancy, but the UCSD researchers found that in autistic children, that development is flawed, causing problems in the areas of the brain that control social skills and language.” Source: ‘Messy Patches in Brain Linked to Autism, Times of San Diego
What does this mean for autism research?
First, we know that autism is something that begins in the womb. It’s not something that can be caused by outside influences after birth, such as vaccines or environmental issues.
Next, we can begin researching ways to prevent autism by intervening during pregnancy or even before conception.
Last, we know that, for now, autism is not something that a pregnant mother could have knowingly prevented. It’s not something that has a cause yet, which is great news because it means that as of right now, autism is not your fault. A shot didn’t do it. An accident didn’t do it. A medication didn’t cause it. It’s just one of those things that nature decides.
The hope from UCSD researchers is that “their work points to the second and third trimesters as a crucial time in the development of autism that may lead to preventative measures to prevent the disorder.”
I hope so, too.