Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Major Stress During Pregnancy Linked To Autism

Date:
November 28, 2001
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
Women who have had a major stressful event - death of a spouse, job loss, or a long-distance move - midway through their pregnancy may have a greater chance of having an autistic child than do their unstressed counterparts say researchers at The Ohio State University Medical Center.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Women who have had a major stressful event - death of a spouse, job loss, or a long-distance move - midway through their pregnancy may have a greater chance of having an autistic child than do their unstressed counterparts say researchers at The Ohio State University Medical Center.

Related Articles


In a presentation at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, Dr. David Beversdorf, a neurologist at OSU Medical Center and principal investigator of the study, reported on a study of 188 women who had delivered autistic children. The research showed that these women were more likely to have experienced a major stressor the 24th through 28th weeks of their pregnancy.

"Researchers have been examining the genetic component of the disease for years, but there is now evidence through this study that autism is also linked to external factors, such as prenatal stress," he said.

Beversdorf and his collegues asked mothers to document their stress levels when stressful events occurred during their pregnancies. The study included the mothers of autistic children, 212 women who had normal births and 92 women who had children with Down's syndrome - a genetically caused neurological disorder caused by chromosomal abnormality.

The researchers then used a standard psychological measure - The Social Readjustment Rating Scale - to gauge the impact at four-week intervals that those stressors had on the women. For the study, a "major stressor" was defined as a life-altering event in the woman's life, such a loss of a loved one or losing a job.

He noted that the numbers of women experiencing major stress during any certain four-week period in their pregnancies remained fairly constant during the study for normal and Down's syndrome pregnancies. Stress levels for the mothers of autistic children were nearly twice those of other mothers in the study.

"We expected that a woman who has had an autistic child or a child with Down's syndrome would tend to remember these life stressors more easily than a woman who has had a normal birth," he said.

"What we were looking for was this rise in the numbers of who had a major stressor during this time period (before 32 weeks) and that these women also had autistic children."

Beversdorf and his colleagues believe their research supports earlier animal studies that suggest stress during specific periods in the pregnancy may lead to structural changes in the brain that have been linked to autism.

The timing of the stressful events recorded for the study seem to mesh well, timewise, with the periods of development of the fetal cerebellum - a key portion of the brain that is structurally different in autistic children.

Autism is a neurological disorder that tends to appear early in a child's life, typically before age 3. These children have problems interacting and communicating with others, have a language delay, and develop a narrow and repetitive pattern of behaviors.

These behaviors typically stay with the child throughout his or her life.

"With this information there will be other studies that can hopefully determine what are the causes and influences of autism in children," said Beversdorf.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Major Stress During Pregnancy Linked To Autism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 November 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011127005411.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2001, November 28). Major Stress During Pregnancy Linked To Autism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011127005411.htm
Ohio State University. "Major Stress During Pregnancy Linked To Autism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011127005411.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins