Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Maternal Stress, Epigenetics, Laterality and Their Relationship to Functional Disconnection in Autism

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Maternal Stress, Epigenetics, Laterality and Their Relationship to Functional Disconnection in Autism

Article excerpt

Both the prevalence and incidence of autism have been confirmed to have increased dramatically over the past two decades. This fact implies that environmental factors are at play. In considering what environmental factors are driving this increase we must first understand what is actually happening in the autistic brain. We have previously stated and shown that the primary problem is a functional disconnection which is precipitated by a developmental delay of the right hemisphere. Environmental factors along with genetic and epigenetic factors essentially result in either mutating, damaging, deleting or silencing genes that are primarily responsible for the development of functional connections and the growth and maturity of neurons. There have been a number of environmental factors already identified as playing a role in the possible causation of autism including various chemicals, drugs and maternal infection. When looking at the candidate environmental factors that may play a significant role we believe that maternal stress resulting in an elevation of glucocorticoids and inflammation may be the single most significant factor. An increased stress response in the mother prenatally will increase the HPA axis activity and increase the production of cortisol. This same effect has a different on the reproductive HPG axis reducing the production of gonadotrophins altering the production of sex hormones. Also the increase in cortisol, increases insulin resistance which causes an increase in the production of insulin. This insulin surge upregulates ezyme activity, increasing the conversion of estrogen to testosterone in the mother. Increased testosterone concentration, inhibits the expression of the RORA gene which is known to activate many genes that regulate brain development and immune regulation and has been shown to be decreased in autism. …

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