Preeclampsia Has Been Linked to Autism

Autism continues to be one of the most puzzling conditions of our time.

While it only seems to be on the rise, scientists still aren't sure what is causing the disorder, and although many agree that there must be some sort of environmental trigger in combination with a genetic link, the jury is still out on what that trigger is. 

But a new study released in JAMA Pediatrics may have found one possible missing piece of the puzzle.  

Image via Flickr/ nanny snowflake

The study found that when looking at mothers who had children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder that these mothers were more than twice as likely to have had preeclampsia during their pregnancies than mothers of children without autism. In other words, many of the children with autism had mothers who had preeclampsia during their pregnancies. This is a significant finding. Another thing that's significant is that the likelihood that a child would be diagnosed with autism actually increased with the heightened severity of the mother's preeclampsia during her pregnancy. 

Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs only during pregnancy and is characterized by high blood pressure, protein spilling in the urine, and other dangerous risks in the body. It's a very serious condition that doctors believe is linked to a problem with the placenta, and the only treatment is to deliver the baby, so many mothers with severe preeclampsia will get induced as early as is safest for the baby. 

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The study speculated that the problem with the placenta that occurs during preeclampsia, called placental insufficiency, may be what could lead to the autism disorder. Because the placenta is basically the life source to the developing fetus, any problem with the placenta will obviously affect the baby as well. For instance, a decreased blood flow or lowered oxygen level could halt brain development or interfere with some crucial point of growth in the fetus. 

So what does this mean for you? Basically that it's important to understand that preeclampsia needs to be taken very seriously during pregnancy — it's part of the reason for all of those weight checks and urine tests at the doctor's office. And if your blood pressure is high at any point during your pregnancy, be sure to talk to your care provider about your risks for developing preeclampsia, because in most cases, it can be managed until the baby is safe to be delivered. 

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Did you have preeclampsia during your pregnancy? 

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Preeclampsia Has Been Linked to Autism

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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