Abnormal Placenta May Signal Autism Risk

Apr 26, 2013

New research finds that abnormalities in an infant’s placenta at birth may signal that the baby is at risk for developing autism. This could help families intervene earlier to improve outcomes for autistic kids.

By the time a child is diagnosed with autism, they’re usually at least three or four years old.

But a new study finds that by examining a newborn’s placenta under a microscope, you can predict whether the child is at risk for developing the disorder.

Dr. Harvey Kliman of the Yale School of Medicine, a senior author of the study, says the placentas of at-risk babies have an abnormal folding pattern.

"Even very few of these, just as little as one of these abnormal folds in each of four slides that we look at, is enough to tell us over 90% probability that the child is in the at risk group for autism."

The study is published in the online issue of Biological Psychiatry.

For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.