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According to a new study, “Pregnant women with higher levels of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, proteins that control communication between cells of the immune system, may be at significantly greater risk of having a child with autism combined with intellectual disability, researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute have found.”

Furthermore, “‘Their profiles are distinct from all of the other groups that we studied, based on their cytokine and chemokine profiles,’ Van de Water continued. ‘This finding suggests an avenue that we will explore to potentially identify possible markers to separate sub-phenotypes in the autism population.'”

“Chemokines have been shown to regulate the migration, proliferation and differentiation of neuronal cells, and studies have identified the roles of specific cytokines during neurodevelopment, such as influencing neurogenesis, neuronal and glial cell migration, proliferation, differentiation and synaptic maturation and pruning.”

Also, “The large, diverse, population-based study was conducted using blood serum samples obtained from the California Department of Public Health of mothers in the Kaiser Permanente Early Markers for Autism Study — 184 whose children developed autism and intellectual disability (previously known as mental retardation), 201 who had children with autism without intellectual disability, 188 whose children had developmental disability alone and 428 general population control participants.”

“‘The fact that we see this increase in inflammatory markers with the autism/intellectual disability group compared with all of the other reference groups is striking, because the ones we’re seeing that are affected are usually down-regulated during the second trimester of pregnancy,’ said Karen L. Jones, study first author and a post-doctoral fellow in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology. ‘This really is suggesting that there is a lack of the immune regulation in these moms that is typically associated with a healthy pregnancy.'”

Inflammatory proteins like cytokines and chemokines can reach higher levels due a poor diet, consuming high sugar food, saturated fats, obesity and lack of antioxidants.

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University of California – Davis Health System. “Autism with intellectual disability linked to mother’s immune dysfunction during pregnancy.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 June 2016. <>.