Pregnancy Protein Implicated in Autism and Schizophrenia

Your baby’s development is influenced by almost countless factors. While you do your best to make sure your child isn’t impacted by your actions, there are some things that simply are beyond your control.

Take, for example, the recent research on pregnancy and its relationship to autism and schizophrenia. According to researchers,

This protein, known as OGT, seems to be present in lower concentrations in women whose babies eventually develop one of these conditions. Here’s what researchers know so far:

  • The connection between the protein and autism or schizophrenia is not yet known to be a causal one. At this point, they only seem to correlate. More research is needed to establish cause.
  • The protein OGT is unique to pregnancy. During pregnancy, a mother transmits the protein to her baby through the placenta.
  • Expectant mothers that experienced higher levels of stress during their pregnancy seemed to transmit less of this protein to their babies.
  • Higher levels of this protein were found in the placentas of female offspring. Yet, there is no explanation for this.
  • Researchers theorize that the genes that control how the placenta filters harmful substances might be affected by the mother’s stress level, her immune system and her nutrition, as well.
  • The research involved mice. Mice who were exposed to unfamiliar noises in the odor of a predator became stressed, and had lower levels of the hormone.
  • The researchers observed changes in the genes of the mice who were stressed, creating the basis for the stress – related theory.
  • It’s not certain yet whether this protein will affect neurodevelopment in human beings. Obviously, which more research is needed in this area.

Schizophrenia and autism are both conditions that, when diagnosed early, have a much better prognosis. Being able to identify risks for these diseases in an infant can help the parents be ready later on when symptoms begin to present.

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