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Examinations of the placenta can reveal autism risks in newborns

By Tim Sandle     Apr 26, 2013 in Health
Researchers have proposed a new means of assessing whether a newborn will develop autism. This is by carrying out an analysis of the placenta.
The new technique is a a safe and effective way to measure a newborns risk for developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism is characterized by delays or abnormal functioning before the age of three years in one or more of the following domains: (1) social interaction; (2) communication; and (3) restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. The spectrum also includes Asperger syndrome. This can be distinguished from autism by the lack of delay or deviance in early language development.
The method, developed by Dr. Harvey Kliman, involves examining abnormal placental folds and cell growths called trophoblast inclusions, which acted as effective biomarkers for predicting which children were at risk for developing ASD. Specifically, the focus is upon finger-like structures that help transport blood between the mother and the developing fetus.
According to the research, a placenta with four or more trophoblast inclusions conservatively predicts an infant with a 96.7% probability of being at risk for autism.
The test can only be conducted once the mother has given birth. The test has been called PlacentASD.
The research is the result of a joint project between Yale School of Medicine and the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis. The research has been published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
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