Researchers hope recruiting pregnant women for a large study will shed some light on the cause of autism. The women are all required to have a child diagnosed with autism, and who are pregnant again.
Researchers at one of several research centers -- in Philadelphia, Baltimore and northern California -- plan to examine blood and urine throughout the woman's pregnancy. Samples from the placenta and umbilical cord will also be collected. The babies-- along with their older siblings -- will also go through developmental testing.
Experts think both genetics and environmental factors in the womb and early in life may play a role in autism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1 in 150 U.S. children have some form of autism spectrum disorder.
You can find more information on the study's website at www.earlistudy.org
From the website: EARLI is short for the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation. EARLI is dedicated to studying families that already have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder who are pregnant or who might become pregnant in the future. The EARLI Study focuses on the prenatal (the time
between conception and birth) and early life periods in newborns who have brothers or sisters already diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
EARLI will closely follow families from the start of the pregnancy to the time the baby reaches age three. The comprehensive data we collect will be analyzed to help us better understand the complex causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The study will take place at four locations across the country: Southeast Pennsylvania: by researchers from Drexel University, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania Northeast Maryland: by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Kennedy Krieger Institute Northern California, UC Davis: by researchers from University of California, Davis, and the M.I.N.D. Institute Northern California, Kaiser Permanente: by researchers from Kaiser Permanente Division of Research
1.How environmental exposures during pregnancy and early life might play a role in the development of an Autism Spectrum Disorder
2. How genetics may influence risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders - especially how genetic make-up might make certain children more vulnerable to environmental exposures
3.Whether there are biological markers (for example, things we can easily measure in blood or urine) that will predict whether a baby eventually develops an Autism Spectrum Disorder
4. How the behavior of newborn siblings of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder changes over time and what behaviors might be early signs of an Autism Spectrum Disorder