Tag Archives: newborn screening

Autism more common for male children based on current behavioral diagnostic criteria

The Minneapolis Somali ASD Prevalence Project Community Report, 2013, assessed the number of children who were between age 7-9 in the year 2010 and who had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. There was a significant difference in the number of males with an autism diagnosis compared to the number of females whether they were white, Hispanic, or black (of Somalian or non-Somalian ancestry). Statistics were not calculated for children of Asian or Native American ancestry because there were so few of them with an autism spectrum diagnosis within the research study’s designated age range and time frame. [http://rtc.umn.edu/autism/doc/Autism_report.pdf]

The Community Report discusses the prevalence and describes current diagnostic criteria but doesn’t include any theories about why autism may be more prevalent for male children or for children of white or Somalian ancestry.

The prevalence rates for children aged 7-9 diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in 2010 in the Minneapolis area:

          Overall Male:  1 in 30                                 Overall Female:  1 in 126

          Somali Male:  1 in 20                                  Somali Female:  1 in 95

          White Male:  1 in 23                                     White Female:  1 in 86

          Black (non-Somali) Male:  1 in 36          Black (non-Somali) Female:  1 in 189

          Hispanic Male:  1 in 43                               Hispanic Female:  1 in 400 [http://rtc.umn.edu/autism/doc/Autism_report.pdf]

This data suggests that it might be a good idea for white males to start caring about preventing autism peri-natally, prenatally, or during early childhood, or any way possible, and it leads to the question of what it is that Asians and Native Americans are doing differently that may be helping protect against autism in their children or how they might be genetically different from people of white, black or Hispanic ancestry.

The difference rates seen between males and females might be explained by the dysfunctional alpha fetoprotein/vitamin D deficiency theory or it has also been suggested that the current diagnostic criteria based on behavior might be missing female children who have quieter symptoms. A newborn screening lab test could help identify infants more at risk to develop autism later whether they have loud disruptive symptoms or quiet lost-in-daydreams symptoms.

The Community Report clearly states that there is no diagnostic test available currently but stressed that early diagnosis and therapy can help children to remain more functional or regain some normal function. The report doesn’t mention the fifteen biomarker study that I found online but that study was published April 2013 so it may not have been available at the time the Community Report was written. [Mizejewski GJ1, Lindau-Shepard B, Pass KA. Newborn screening for autism: in search of candidate biomarkers. Biomark Med. 2013 Apr;7(2):247-60.] The abstract is available online for free. I bought the paper and provided a little more information about the screening lab tests that might be useful for identifying which newborns are most at risk for later developing autism, but you’ll have to buy the research article for the full details. — [http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/01/27/newborn-screening-for-autism-3-sets-of-5-potential-biomarkers/]

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./



Newborn screening for autism – 3 sets of 5 potential biomarkers

I bought the research study regarding newborn screening for autism and it is exciting but was based on a small number of patients with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (n=16, control group n=32).

  1. Newborn screening for autism: in search of candidate biomarkers. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23547820 ]

The research study evaluated the newborn umbilical cord blood for 90 biomarkers (various types of lab tests), 76 biomarkers were found to have consistant data available for all study subjects,  and three sets of five biomarkers were found to be consistently increased or decreased in the infants who were diagnosed with autism later in life compared to the infants in the control group (the research study only used patients with an autism diagnosis who had been screened and diagnosed by the same physician in order to reduce risk of inconsistent diagnostic standards in the experimental group (n=16).

The three sets of five biomarkers need to be tested with a larger group of children with autism diagnoses to see if the results can be repeated. Feasibly to save money on lab tests all newborns might be screened with the set of five most predictive lab tests and the infants who are positive for those five might then be screened for the second set of five tests or all ten of the other biomarkers. The fifteen biomarkers include calcitonin (increased) and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH, decreased). Low TSH levels can cause increased calcitonin levels which causes reduced blood calcium levels. Elevated blood levels of calcium may cause an increase in calcitonin and having adequate levels of hormone 1, 25 D may be necessary for keeping calcitonin levels within a normal range. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442503/]

Vitamin D was not one of the 90 lab tests that were included in this research study, however the sibling study performed in Sweden suggested that low vitamin D at birth is involved but that other factors are also involved because all of the children born to Somalian refugees were found to have low vitamin D so that lab value would not be helpful as a screening test. 2) Swedish Study Suggests Low Vitamin D at Birth May Increase Autism Risk [https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/swedish-study-suggests-low-vitamin-d-birth-may-increase-autism-risk]

Alpha feto-protein (AFP) is one of the fifteen biomarkers found to be predictive for autism later in life. Levels of AFP have been found to be increased in both the mothers of infants who develop autism later in life and in the infants who develop autism later in life. Buy the research study to find out the other twelve – feasibly a concerned parent (with money and a cooperative physician) might be able to have their newborn’s blood screened for the fifteen biomarkers on their own initiative, right away, rather than waiting for the mainstream medical industry to do further research studies.

— The fact that autism was unknown in Somalia suggests that it is unlikely to be a naturally occurring condition and that it is unlikely to be caused by a lack of anti-autism medicine or by the lack of an anti-autism vaccination, so waiting for the for-profit medical industry to devise a for-profit strategy to prevent autism seems like it might take awhile. Concerned parents should have a right to seek effective care for their children and for themselves.

Autism seems to be a condition that occurs prenatally which leaves the newborn infant with metabolic differences but who otherwise appears normal and then, depending on nutritional and environmental conditions, at around age two to four the child’s development shifts towards symptoms of autism. The goal of newborn screening would be to identify which infants are most at risk for that later shift towards autism so that they might be able to be given additional care in order to prevent the damaging autoimmune like changes to the child’s brain. A few different genetic defects that affect nutrient needs may be involved so a newborn who is identified as high risk for developing autism symptoms later in life might then benefit from being screened for genetic defects in the methylation cycle, or with the vitamin D binding protein, or with hemoglobin metabolism. Infants identified as more at risk for autism later in life may also benefit from being screened for hypothyroidism, iodine deficiency, or an excess of bromide, chloride and fluoride.

In summary, for now, this is complicated but very exciting — we have the information we need in order to help women prevent autism before conception and to help identify which newborns may be more at risk for developing autism symptoms later in life so that we can help give the infants the additional nutritional and environmental support that might help them prevent the longterm autoimmune like brain damage from ever occurring.

Older individuals who already have autism diagnoses may also be helped by additional nutritional and environmental support (reduce their exposure to pollutants and foods or foods additives that their unique metabolism can’t digest as well as average) but a “cure” for the changes that already occurred in the brain may not be possible for children and adults who have already been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Individualized nutritional support might help reduce negative symptoms and improve quality of life for patients who already have an autism diagnosis.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./