Hormonal Imbalance During Pregnancy Linked to Autism

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  • Hormonal imbalance during pregnancy linked to autism: According to a new study from the Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet recently published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, children born to mothers with a hormonal imbalance run a much higher risk of developing autism. This imbalance called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) represents a range of neurodevelopmental disorders in children. As Kyriaki Kosidou, the lead researcher at Karolinska’s Department of Public Health Sciences, explained: “We found that a maternal diagnosis of PCOS increased the risk of autism in the offspring by 59 percent. The causes are not entirely clear, but evidence suggests that exposure to certain sex hormones early in life — from mothers with PCOS who are producing excessive amounts of androgens — can play a role in the development of autism in children. The risk was further increased among mothers with both PCOS and obesity.” The study found that approximately 5 to 15 percent of women of child-bearing age can be affected by PCOS.
  • ADHD rose 43 percent during the past decade in the United States: According to new findings recently published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, twelve percent of American children and teens were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in 2011, which represents a significant increase over the 8.4 percent reported by parents in the same survey taken in 2003. The data for the study came from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics, a part of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When researchers looked specifically at teenagers, they found the diagnoses had risen 52 percent since 2003. As Sean Cleary, the lead researcher and an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, explained: “This analysis suggests that 5.8 million US children ages five to 17 now have this diagnosis, which can cause inattention and behavioral difficulties.” ADHD is the most commonly identified mental disorder in the United States, and often treated with psychological therapy and prescription stimulants like Ritalin to improve child’s behavior and focus. Although its precise causes are unknown, some research suggests that difficulties during pregnancy, exposure to toxins and family history might be some of its causes. While ADHD has previously been more common among boys than girls, researchers found that parent-reported prevalence for girls diagnosed with ADHD rose 55 percent in eight years in comparison with 40 percent among boys.
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