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Prenatal Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Levels and Risk of Autism Spectrum

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Technical Report,30 Sep 2016,29 Sep 2017

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Drexel University Philadelphia United States

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The causes of autism spectrum disorder ASD are not well understood, but research suggests that factors influencing early brain development may be involved. Polyunsaturated fatty acids PUFAs, which include omega 3 fatty acids, are fats obtained from the diet that play key roles in early fetal brain development. It is notknown whether levels of these crucial fats during pregnancy influence risk of ASD. This project will examine the relationship between PUFA levels and ASD, addressing the role of environmental risk factors in ASD a FY15 priority Area of Interest. Specifically, the goal of this project is to determine whether levels of PUFAs measured from maternal blood samples collected during pregnancy, and in a subgroup group, from newborn blood spots, differ between children with ASD and those without ASD. We will also explore whether the relationship between PUFAs and ASD differs in certain subgroups, such as by raceethnicity, preterm birth, or child gender. Based on the importance of PUFAs in neurodevelopment, we suspect that lower levels of PUFAs may be related to ASD. In order to address these questions, we will use data from routine screening programs in the state of California. Children with ASD cases will be selected from the California Department of Developmental Services DDS, a statewide program that coordinates services for children with autism and other disabilities. Children without ASD controls will be selected from California birth certificates in the same year as children with ASD. PUFAs will be measured in the previously collected blood samples from pregnancy 500 cases and 500 controls, and in newborn blood spots from a subgroup 200 cases and 200 controls using sensitive, state-of-the-art technology. Statistical analyses will examine differences in levels of maternal and newborn PUFAs between children with and without ASD, adjusting for demographic and other factors that may influence the association.

Subject Categories:

  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Biochemistry
  • Food, Food Service and Nutrition

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