Autism, Stress And Pregnancy

July 28, 2014 | Author: | Posted in Health & Fitness

Stress and pregnancy don’t mix well. One of the concerns arising from this mix has been the risk of autism. Acknowledging this danger should not trigger a vicious cycle of stressing about stress. That counter-productive process can and needs to be counter-acted. Nonetheless, knowledge is essential for a safe pregnancy.

Expecting mothers – and their partners – should be aware of the research giving rise to widespread conclusions that pregnancy stress presents dangers to unborn children, including risks of autism. Again, though, don’t stress about stress; keep the big picture in mind.

First, right now the evidence is derived from the study of mice. Mice studies have been an important contributor to understanding human disease. However, it would be a mistake to automatically assume that any finding among mice automatically and immediately translates into human experience.

The second consideration is being aware of the proportionality dilemma. There is no doubt valuable insight from pumping mice full of some toxin vastly out of proportion to its use by most humans. Predicting effects from actual human use, though, isn’t likely one of them.

This is important to remember when we observe that the researchers characterize the stress imposed on the mice as mild. This term though reveals nothing precise about the stress level of the mice. Nor does it reveal whether such findings do (or don’t) translate to human experience. The resulting knowledge gap should not be filled with baseless assumptions fueled by our worst fears.

Bearing in mind such qualifications, we can observe the significance of research findings to the effect that the placenta of pregnant mice transmits biochemical effects of stress to the fetus. The essential element involved appears to be an enzyme called OGT. The relevant research indicates that OGT is what’s inhibited in the placenta of mice who are subjected to what researchers describe as mild stress.

The stress for the mice was created by exposure to unfamiliar noises and the scent of foxes. It’s not made clear why such stress – such as being exposed to threat of a natural predator – would qualify as mild.

In any event, despite this serious flaw in the presentation of the research findings, it does appear clear that at some level of stress, mice do experience significantly reduced OGT levels. These reductions trigger alternations of over 370 of the mice’s brain genes.

The neurons which were altered are critically important to a number of vital brain activities in fetus development. These include regulation of energy use, protein development and nerve cell connections. This research does seem to strongly indicate that OGT helps protect development of the fetal brain.

An important difference between male and female fetuses comes into play, here. There is a naturally lower OGT level in male fetuses. Consequently, whatever the level of stress sufficient to trigger reduced OGT, the affect will be felt sooner and more drastically in the development of boys. Such conjecture would be supported by the documented fact of higher autism and schizophrenia occurrence among males.

This is valuable information for you to know. But it should inspire you to take actions to reduce your stress, not get further stressed out! See our suggestions for solutions that work .

Expecting moms and their partners who want to keep up on all the relevant news need to follow the Stress and Pregnancy site. Also, for more great information about healthy life-choice, check out the info at our sister project, the Getting Rid of a Headache Without Medicine blog.


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