Maternal Antibodies May Be Closely Connected to Autism

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Studio 360 Episode 913, Art and Autism Still image from "Autism: The Musical" (Cindy Gold/HBO)

New research suggests that nearly a quarter of all autism cases may be connected to the presence of certain maternal antibodies.

The study published in the scientific journal Translational Psychiatry suggests that those antibodies could interfere with fetal brain development during pregnancy.

Joining The Takeaway is the study's lead author Dr. Judy Van de Water, a Department of Internal Medicine professor at the School of Medicine UC Davis MIND Institute. Dr. Van de Water’s laboratory research includes the biological aspects of autism spectrum disorders including immune dysfunction and autoantibody production. In addition, her current work involves the identification of maternal antibodies to fetal brain proteins found in some mothers of children with autism. She fills us in on what this research means for people with autism and their families. 

Jackie Murphy is a mother who participated in the study and is already embracing the results. She is the mother of an 8-year-old autistic child.

"I can say for our family, for me myself, I did want to have more children," she tells The Takeaway. "But knowing that I was positive for these antibodies, and knowing how affected my son is, I was able to make the choice that I was not going to have any more children because I have other children to care for, and our son who is affected and needs a lot of attention."

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Jackie Murphy and Dr. Judy Van de Water

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Carla Javier and Cassie Jones

Comments [2]

Todd Zwillich from New York


I said no such thing, and since it is not possible to prove a negative I would not support such a statement. Proving something does not exist is not the scientific standard. What I did say is that "all the best science has knocked down" the notion that childhood vaccines cause autism. For confirmation of this I would direct you to the most exhaustive scientific reviews to date here and here

This extensive body of research, while incapable of proving no connection exists between vaccines and autism, towers over the ill-informed and irresponsible testimonials of celebrities. It stands beside irrefutable evidence that vaccines, to varying degrees, reliably prevent the acquisition and spread of deadly infectious disease.

As far as autism is concerned, research can and should continue to look at this vital question, and I gather it will. In the meantime let's not fool ourselves and harm our children by letting the glare of celebrity and conspiracy theories obscure real evidence.

Jul. 11 2013 10:24 PM
Lea Googe from Plano, TX

I was shocked hearing Todd Zwillich's comment that vaccines have been proven to not cause autism. This is a false statement that should be corrected. There is currently a bill in congress requesting a study to prove this - it has never been done. you should also inform him of these We should also remember that all the vaccine studies have been performed by the manufacturers. Please let us not forget all the tobacco and asbestos studies that proved they were safe, please support an independent study.

Jul. 11 2013 06:55 PM

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