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NIH Pumps $3M Into Feinstein Autism Study

NIH awards $3 million grant for study of mother's autoimmunity during pregnancy and the risk of ASD in her child.


Photo: CC--Scott Akerman

Celiac.com 11/04/2016 - NIH has awarded a $3 Million grant to Dr. Betty Diamond, head of the Feinstein Institute's Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Diseases, and her colleague, Dr. Peter Gregersen, who heads the Feinstein Institute's Robert S. Boas Center for Genomics & Human Genetics, specifically to explore the relationship between a mother's autoimmunity during pregnancy and the risk of ASD in her child. Both are also researchers at the Northwell Health System's Manhasset-based R&D division.

Doctors Diamond and Gregerson are following up their own previous studies that showed antibodies can lead to abnormal brain development and ASD symptoms.

Also known as 'immunoglobulins,' antibodies are Y-shaped proteins produced mainly by plasma cells, white blood cells that can secrete large volumes of antibodies, and which the immune system uses to identify and neutralize pathogens including bacteria and viruses.

The new study seeks to determine if increased levels of antibodies in pregnant women with autoimmune inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or celiac disease, leave these women at increased risk of having children on the autism spectrum.

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Titled "Prenatal Autoimmune and Inflammatory Risk Factors for Autism Spectrum Disorders," the new study will track 4,500 women who deliver babies at hospitals in the Northwell Health system, along with their babies, for two years.

Participating mothers will receive a blood test during pregnancy to spot any potential autoimmune disease or diseases, and also to spot any elevations in immune activation, or in cell-signaling cytokine proteins.

The research team will then monitor the children for signs of ASD. While researchers have already determined that autism spectrum disorders are at least partly influenced by genetics, "relatively little attention has been paid to the role of environment, and particularly the intrauterine environment," says to Gregersen.

This research will help researchers to better understand the connections between a mother's autoimmunity levels during pregnancy, and the risk of later ASD in her child.

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I went into menopause at age 42. I didn't know I had celiac until I was 56. Now I know why my menopause was so early.

Have been dealing with splinter hemorrhages on three of my toe nails since February. I did go to my doctor who rightly so did a very complete blood work-up ruling out other diseases such as lupus and RA and referred me to several other doctors to make sure that it was not cancer, endocarditis, or something serious. I went to the doctors. I have done some research on vitamin deficiency and it seems that some link splinter hemorrhages to vitamin C deficiency. For the past 2 1/2 weeks I have been eating 3 clementines a day (in addition to the usual multivitamin that I take) and it seems to be helping the splinter hemorrhages. One has grown out and not returned. Visited my GI doctor today and talked about malabsorption of nutrients as a potential issue. We are doing more blood work and checking nutrient levels. I have to believe it has something to do with the celiac. Sorry I don't have a better answer, but like you am trying to figure this out. Please let me know if you find any answers, and yes, be sure to check with your doctor to rule out anything serious.

You only need one positive on the celiac panel. I tested positive only to the DGP IgA and had a Marsh Stage IIIB intestinal damage. Good luck!

Welcome to the forum. First, you need to get copies of your celiac test to confirm you actually had it done and what the results were. Second, to confirm a diagnosis, you must obtain biopsies via an endoscopy. Were the doctors gastroenterologists? Third you need to research celiac disease. Yes, you can be asymptomatic, but could still have instestinal damage as the small intestine is vast. here is a good place to start: http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/screening/ You might think you are a silent celiac, but ever been anemic? Had your bones checked?

That's good to know about Texas Children's, unfortunately I don't believe they accept our insurance. Our former pediatrician joined with one of their medical groups and we had to find a new one due to insurance. I'll check out their site though.