The Placenta Blog

The placenta, the organ responsible for for nourishing your baby and regulating maternal-fetal interactions, may be a contributing factor in a child’s autism diagnosis.

“There is increasing evidence implicating the placenta in autism risk. For example, abnormal inclusions of trophoblasts, the cells that comprise the placenta, are found more frequently in placentas from mothers of children who develop autism than in controls3. Also, placental inflammation is associated with impairments in communication and social interaction in the child, as measured by low ratings on the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers4.” SOURCE

The placenta, aware of the mother’s nutritional state, can adjust its output of nutrients and hormones to the fetus as needed.  The placenta can also amplify and heighten signals coming from the mother such as endocrine function and nutrition. However, if the mother is experiencing stress or inflamation, these amplified signals could harm the baby.

There is also a link between low birth weight and autism.  If a baby has low birth weight due to placntal function, the child is at risk of developing autism.  The same is true for premature babies.

“It is not clear whether problems with the placenta are directly responsible for a subset of autism spectrum disorders in people. However, at least in sheep, inducing inflammation in the utero-placental compartment is sufficient to cause neurological deficits reminiscent of autism.”  SOURCE

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