The Year’s Most Interesting Pediatric Research – Autism

Autism Research

The top story for pediatric research in 2014 relates to Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ASD‘s. This has long been a hotbed of interest for pediatricians, especially with current estimates at 1 in 68 children with a diagnosis of ASD. This is up from just 2 years ago when the estimate was 1 in 88 children. There are many potential factors which have been proposed as causing this rise.

Two of the most promising ideas in recent research have been:

  1. Maternal autoantibodies
  2. Prenatal pesticide exposure

Research on maternal autoantibodies has focused on ASD specific antibodies that cross through the placenta to affect the developing fetal brain. Studies in rodents and non-human primates have supported this theory. This area of research opens the door for potential therapies to prevent autism.

The evidence supporting the role of prenatal pesticide exposure relates to exposure to pesticides sprayed on areas such as golf courses and agricultural fields within a mile of where you live during pregnancy. Most autism research supports the idea that whatever causes autism is occurring before the child is born, and is often out of parents control.

There is also evidence that we can start diagnosing autism earlier than before, and early diagnosis allows for earlier intervention and better outcomes. At Lone Tree Pediatrics, we administer a screening test to look for concerning behaviors at both 18 and 24 months of age. If you have concerns about your child’s behavior, let your Lone Tree Pediatrician¬†know.


About Debra Berry

Dr. Debra Berry is a board-certified pediatrician in Lone Tree, Colorado providing comprehensive pediatric care at Lone Tree Pediatrics. Her primary goal as a physician is to help each of her patients live a healthy life and grow into a happy productive adult.