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Diagnosed autism linked to maternal grandmother’s smoking in pregnancy

Diagnosed autism linked to maternal grandmother’s smoking in pregnancy

Date:
April 27, 2017
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
Scientists have looked at all 14,500 participants in Children of the 90s and found that if a girl’s maternal grandmother smoked during pregnancy, the girl is 67 percent more likely to display certain traits linked to autism, such as poor social communication skills and repetitive behaviors.
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Researchers found that if the maternal grandmother smoked, this increased by 53% the risk of her grandchildren having a diagnosed autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Credit: © highwaystarz / Fotolia

Scientists from the University of Bristol have looked at all 14,500 participants in Children of the 90s and found that if a girl’s maternal grandmother smoked during pregnancy, the girl is 67% more likely to display certain traits linked to autism, such as poor social communication skills and repetitive behaviours.

The team also found that if the maternal grandmother smoked, this increased by 53% the risk of her grandchildren having a diagnosed autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

These discoveries suggest that if a female is exposed to cigarette smoke while she is still in the womb, it could affect the developing eggs — causing changes that may eventually affect the development of her own children. Further research is now needed to find out what these molecular changes might be, and to see whether the same associations are present in other groups of people.

Unlike the analysis of autistic traits, which was based on over 7,000 participants, the 177 diagnosed with ASD were too few to analyse grandsons and granddaughters separately.

The discovery, published today in Scientific Reports, is part of an ongoing, long-term study of the effects of maternal and paternal grandmother’s smoking in pregnancy on the development of their grandchildren, who are all part of Children of the 90s. By using detailed information collected over many years on multiple factors that may affect children’s health and development, the researchers were able to rule out other potential explanations for their results.

The incidence of ASD has increased in recent years, and while some of this increase is undoubtedly down to improved diagnosis, changes in environment or lifestyle are also likely to play a role. The researchers also stress that many different factors, including genetic variation, are believed to affect an individual’s chances of developing ASD.

Past studies of maternal smoking in pregnancy and ASD in children have been inconclusive. Going back a generation has revealed an intergenerational effect, which interestingly is most clear cut when the mother herself did not smoke in pregnancy.

The reasons for this are not entirely clear but Professor Marcus Pembrey, one of the paper’s authors, says: ‘In terms of mechanisms, there are two broad possibilities. There is DNA damage that is transmitted to the grandchildren or there is some adaptive response to the smoking that leaves the grandchild more vulnerable to ASD. We have no explanation for the sex difference, although we have previously found that grand-maternal smoking is associated with different growth patterns in grandsons and granddaughters.

‘More specifically, we know smoking can damage the DNA of mitochondria — the numerous “power-packs” contained in every cell, and mitochondria are only transmitted to the next generation via the mother’s egg. The initial mitochondrial DNA mutations often have no overt effect in the mother herself, but the impact can increase when transmitted to her own children.’

Professor Jean Golding, another author, added: ‘We already know that protecting a baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things a woman can do to give her child a healthy start in life. Now we’ve found that not smoking during pregnancy could also give their future grandchildren a better start too. We have started studying the next generation of participants (COCO90s), so eventually we will be able to see if the effect carries down from the great-grandparents to their great-grandchildren too.’

Dr Dheeraj Rai, another author, added: ‘We still do not know why many children develop autism and behaviours linked to it. The associations we observe raise intriguing issues on possible transgenerational influences in autism. Future research will help understand the meaning and mechanisms behind these findings. The National Autistic Society website contains a wealth of information about autism and details on how and where to seek advice.’

Alycia Halladay, PhD, chief science officer at the Autism Science Foundation (USA), said: ‘To date, research into the causes of autism has been limited to studying maternal or paternal exposures during pregnancy. By utilizing a birth cohort in the United Kingdom [Children of the 90s], scientists are able to go back a generation to examine the role of grandparental exposures, presumably through germ line mutations and epigenetic modifications. Hopefully, grandparental exposures will continue to be investigated to better understand this mechanism.’


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of BristolNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Golding, J. et al. Grandmaternal smoking in pregnancy and grandchild’s autistic traits and diagnosed autismScientific Reports, 2017 DOI: 10.1038/srep46179

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. “Diagnosed autism linked to maternal grandmother’s smoking in pregnancy.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170427091740.htm>.

Attention deficit and plasticizers?

 

Attention deficit after kids’ critical illness linked to plasticizers in medical tubes

April 1, 2016

Children who are often hospitalized in intensive care units are more likely to have attention deficit disorders later, and new research finds a possible culprit: a high level of plastic-softening chemicals called phthalates circulating in the blood. The researchers, who will present their study results Friday at The Endocrine Society’s 98th annual meeting in Boston, suggest these chemicals, which are added to indwelling medical devices such as plastic tubes and catheters, seep into the child’s bloodstream.

“Phthalates have been banned from children’s toys because of their potential toxic and hormone-disrupting effects, but they are still used to soften ,” said lead researcher Sören Verstraete, MD, a PhD student at KU (Katholieke Universiteit) Leuven in Leuven, Belgium. “We found a clear match between previously hospitalized children’s long-term neurocognitive test results and their individual exposure to the phthalate DEHP during intensive care.”

Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, or DEHP, is the most commonly used plastic softener in medical devices made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Verstraete called the use of medical devices containing this phthalate “potentially harmful” for the brain development and function of critically ill children.

“Development of alternative plastic softeners for use in indwelling medical devices may be urgently indicated,” he said.

Their study included 100 healthy children and 449 children who received treatment in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and underwent neurocognitive testing four years later. Most of the PICU patients were recovering from heart surgery, but some had sustained accidental injuries or had severe infections. The researchers measured blood levels of DEHP metabolites, or byproducts. Initially they performed the blood tests in the healthy children and 228 of the patients while they were in the PICU. Patients had one to 12 medical tubes in the PICU and ranged in age from newborn to 16 years.

The investigators found that DEHP metabolite levels were not detectable in the blood samples of healthy children. However, at admission to the PICU, the critically ill children, already connected to catheters, had levels that Verstraete called “sky-high.” Although the DEHP levels decreased rapidly, they remained 18 times higher until discharge from the PICU compared with those of healthy children, he said.

Then the researchers conducted statistical analyses that adjusted for the patients’ initial risk factors that could influence the neurocognitive outcome as well as length of stay, complications and treatments in the PICU. A high exposure to DEHP during the PICU stay, according to Verstraete, was strongly associated with  found at neurocognitive testing four years after discharge. They validated this finding in a different group of 221 PICU patients.

“This phthalate exposure explained half of the attention deficit in former PICU patients,” he said, adding that other factors may account for the other half.

 

What do you think? Want to live a more toxin-free life? Go here to find products that are natural and safe.

The research received funding from the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO) in Brussels; Methusalem program from the Flemish government in Belgium; European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development; and Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT), Brussels. This study appeared in the March issue of the journal Intensive Care Medicine.

 Explore further: Beds in pediatric intensive care unit could be used more efficiently with improved flow

Making it Right…how to get a child to actually “be” sorry / apologize

 

For years, it has been debated on whether or not to have a child say “I’m sorry” to someone who they have wronged.  I’ve seen parents and caregivers have 12 month olds say “I’m sorry” to peers – when obviously there is no feeling behind it.  I have always felt that when we do that, we are actually demoting the sincerity of the apology and creating children who don’t really care about their actions.

My history of being sorry and apologizing

I’m a firm believer in not ever apologizing for something more than once.  If I wrong you, repeatedly, then it means that I have a character flaw and can’t or won’t do anything about it.  For example, if I cheat on you after a night of drunkenness – then I will feel regret. But, when I get caught, and say “I’m sorry” what am I sorry for? Getting caught? Cheating? Getting drunk? Breaking the rules of relationships? Hurting you?  So – to say I’m sorry that one time…yes, that’s understandable as long as it’s sincere and NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. If it happens again, then that’s not a fluke. That’s a character flaw.  Okay – so drunken cheating is a bad example….let’s say that I have a texting relationship with someone far away. Texting something inappropriate one time…then thinking about it….realizing it was inappropriate and NEVER DOING IT AGAIN – that’s something to be sorry for. But carrying on a texting relationship for years? That’s a character flaw. It’s premeditated. It’s just wrong.  Okay – so that’s another strong example. Stealing? Same thing. Heat of the moment – not thinking straight.  Feeling regret and making it right and never doing it again… that’s feeling sorry about something.

An adult should never have to apologize for something twice.  If it’s who you are, you can’t change that. If you’re a cheater, drunk, thief – that’s no reason to apologize. That’s a reason to get help.  Also, don’t ever apologize for how I feel: “I’m sorry you’re mad” is not an apology. Think about that for a bit.

A less extreme example?  I don’t know – being an adult is complicated and extreme by nature. Let’s talk about how to do “sorry” with kids.

How to get a child to say “sorry” and mean it

Let’s say that two children are playing nicely in the sand box.  Bobby has a blue shovel;  Katie has a red shovel. Katie takes the blue shovel from Bobby and makes him cry.  Now she has two shovels. What now? The caregiver (parent, nanny, babysitter, teacher) goes over and talks to Bobby first.

Adult: Bobby, tell me what happened. Why are you crying? (don’t infer feelings by asking “why are you sad?” He might not be sad…)

Bobby: Katie took my shovel.

Adult: Oh Bobby, you go talk to Katie and tell her how you feel.

Bobby: Katie, I don’t like that. I’m not done.

Katie: But, but, yadda, yadda…

Adult: Katie, you took that shovel without asking for your turn.  Tell Bobby that what you did was wrong.

Katie: Bobby, I shouldn’t have taken that shovel from you. It was wrong to not ask first. I won’t do it again. Do you forgive me? May I have a turn when you are finished?  (with lots of coaching)

Adult: Bobby, do you forgive her? Can she be next?

Bobby: Of course! (Hugs Katie) I forgive you, here’s to blue shovel!

Yeah, right!

Okay, so you get the point:

The “victim” gets the attention first.

Don’t assign feelings to either one. Just make observations about behavior.

Help the “victim” address the “attacker” by using his or her words.

The “attacker” needs to say that what they did was wrong, why it was wrong, that they won’t do it again, and ask for forgiveness.

There must be a resolution of some sort with closure or further action needed.

Here’s another example of getting a child to apologize

Sara and Mike are riding tricycles. Their wheels get tangled up and both are screaming mad. Mike gets off his trike, bites Sara on the hand, and pushes her off the trike.

Adult: Sara! Are you okay? That looks like it hurt. What happened?

Sara:  He…he…he…MY TRIKE!!!!

Adult: Mike, you get off the trike and come make this right with Sara, do you understand? You bit her and that is not okay. Talk to Sara and see if you can help her feel better.

Mike: Sara, I shouldn’t have bitten you. It was wrong for me to get so angry and hurt you. I won’t do it again. Do you forgive me? (of course with lots of adult help to say these things when the children are so young)

Sara: No, I don’t. I’m very hurt and angry right now. Maybe I’ll talk to you again soon, but my hand really hurts…

Anyway – so you get the idea. It’s not ever going to happen like this, but this is an example of where you’d like it to go eventually.  Getting the children to just say sorry – that’s a piece of cake.

What if the child won’t apologize?

Then the child needs to go sit out until he or she is ready to at least make an attempt. By 24 months old, a child should be able to offer hugs. Then, the adult needs to role play the situation for the children – saying the words, getting the children to look at each other, nodding and hugging – that sort of thing. It will become increasingly more elaborate and self-regulated as the children age and have more exposure to this routine.

I have 30 month olds in my care that can do this on their own with very little coaching from an adult. They are able to complete the cycle from beginning to end – even putting themselves in “time-out” until they are ready to start the apologizing process.

Now…getting adults to apologize –  that’s a different story! If people would just stop screwing up, there’d be no need!