Placental Abnormalities: Autism's Early Warning System?
Identifying the risk of autism is a pediatrician's holy grail for ASD. Right now, parents who are unaware of any autism predisposition in the family need to wait until the developmental signs start to emerge. For those who are aware, this may be as long as 18 months, and for those completely unaware, it could be as long as 4 plus years. In childhood developmental terms, that can be a lifetime. So early diagnosis is critical for all parents, children, and pediatricians.
But do to a recent study as published in Biological Psychiatry, it appears that newborns can be considered at risk of autism with various placental abnormalities. That means that doctors can regularly examine placental folds and cell growths for abnormalities, and with higher numbers of abnormalities children are more likely to have autism.
It's scary, I know, thinking that your child may not be "normal" in an accepted sense, will most likely not have much of a social life, and often will struggle to communicate. But, with knowledge at birth, parents can make sure their children have the therapy needed as soon as possible. That means more likely success in integrating them into society.
The research is still out as to how reliable this method will be, as the article indicates the additional growths increase likelihood of autism by 74%. But it's exciting research, because it will give parents a chance to prepare early for the signs, get organized, and be prepared for autism when it comes.
Of course, a "heads up" like this is only useful when all the other pieces are in place, such as parental training for autism, screening apps for parents to evaluate their children's development at various stages, and basic tools and methods to help children work through their autism and be able to communicate. But at least this piece, the early warning system, looks promising.