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Scientists Explore Relationship between ASD and ID

By Stacy W. Kish on January 23, 2013


Background: Patients diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Intellectual Disability (ID) often exhibit similar symptoms—impaired communications, developmental delay, repetitive behaviors, and social difficulties. Scientists remain uncertain how genetic or environmental factors contribute to each condition.


What’s new: A group of scientists at Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Australia examined a variety of factors that occur before and shortly after childbirth that could place a child on a trajectory toward ASD or ID. They compared patients with ID, ASD with ID, and ASD without ID. Their results associate ASD with maternal or placental infection, which may affect early brain development. Whereas, the researchers found a stronger correlation to other pregnancy factors, such as diabetes, pregnancy hypertension, asthma, urinary tract infections, and placental abruption, in the development of ID. Interestingly, poor fetal growth correlated with ID as well as ASD with ID, but not ASD without ID.


Why it’s important: This work differentiates some of the prenatal factors that may associate with each disorder and highlights the importance of differentiating ASDs with and without ID when investigating ASD causes, preventative measures, and targeted therapies.

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