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Autism study: New study links autism to placenta abnormalities

Autism study: New study links autism to placenta abnormalities, In a new study being called a possible breakthrough in autism, researchers suggest that the placenta may provide clues about the risk of developing autism. The study indicated that there is a link between having a placenta with abnormal folds and creases and a higher risk of autism, the New York Times reported April 25.

In the new autism study, researchers at the Mind Institute at the University of California, Davis, analyzed placentas from 217 births. The researchers found that in families already at high genetic risk of having an autistic child, placentas were significantly more likely to have abnormal folds and creases.

The new autism placenta findings were to be published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

But it will be at least two years before researchers know how many of the children, if any, whose placentas were studied actually will be diagnosed with autism. The children in the study are now between the ages of 2 and 5.

If the abnormal folds and creases in a placenta, called trophoblast inclusions, are found to be linked to autism, a placenta could then become an early indicator for babies at high risk of developing autism, researchers said.

“Placentas from babies at risk for autism, clearly there’s something quite different about them,” said Dr. Cheryl K. Walker, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Mind Institute and a co-author of the study.

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