Washington: A recent study indicates that if a woman has previously had a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the risk of having a second child with ASD is more than in the general.
In a number of recent studies, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute made enormous strides toward ASD prediction and diagnosis.
Estimates indicated that if a mother has previously had a child with ASD, the risk of having a second child with ASD is approximately 18.7 per cent, whereas the risk of ASD in the general population is approximately 1.7 per cent.
"However," said Hahn, a researcher, "it would be highly desirable if a prediction based upon physiological measurements could be made to determine which risk group a prospective mother falls into."
Researchers worked in developing a physiological test to predict autism risk, which has a larger emphasis on Alzheimer's and neurodegenerative diseases.
In this study, metabolites of the folate-dependent transmethylation and transsulfuration biochemical pathways of pregnant women were measured to determine whether or not the risk of having a child with autism could be predicted by her metabolic profile.
Pregnant mothers who have had a child with autism before were separated into two groups based on the diagnosis of their child whether the child had autism or not. Then these mothers were compared to a group of control mothers who have not had a child with autism before.
The researchers concluded that while it is not possible to determine during a pregnancy if a child will be diagnosed with ASD by age 3, they did find that differences in the plasma metabolites are indicative of the relative risk (18.7 per cent vs 1.7 per cent) for having a child with ASD.
"These are exciting results as they hint at differences in some metabolic processes that potentially play a role in increasing the risk of having a child with ASD," said Hahn.
This new research followed an earlier study, which developed an algorithm based on levels of metabolites found in a blood sample that can accurately predict whether a child is on the autism spectrum. A follow-up study this spring was also highly promising in assessing whether a child is on the autism spectrum.
The findings appeared in the Journal of Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.