One in Four Women With Under-performing Thyroids Have Autistic Children

Can there be any more suppositions about why children are born with autism?  Now a new study has found that women low in thyroid hormones "are nearly 4 times likelier to produce autistic children than healthy women," according to newswise.com.

As someone who has always struggled with an under-performing thyroid (and take medication for it), this was interesting to me.  I'm not planning on having any more children but did my son really come that close to autism?

More than 4,000 Dutch women and their children were studied and "and it supports a growing view that autism spectrum disorders can be caused by a lack of maternal thyroid hormone, which past studies have shown is crucial to the migration of fetal brain cells during embryo development," the Web site said.

"It is increasingly apparent to us that autism is caused by environmental factors in most cases, not by genetics," newswise.com quoted lead author Gustavo Román, M.D., a neurologist and neuroepidemiologist who directs the Nantz National Alzheimer Center. "That gives me hope that prevention is possible."

The researchers also found that autistic children had more pronounced symptoms if their mothers were severely deficient for T4, also called thyroxine.

Surprisingly, 1 in 7 people in the U.S. suffer from this, compared to 1 in 3 in most of the world.  Experts put this down to all the iodized salt in our diet.  Iodine deficiency is what causes the thyroid to malfunction.

In the study blood was drawn from the mothers at or around 13 weeks into their pregnancies to measure levels of T4 and two proteins that could indicate the cause of thyroid deficiency. "Six years later, mothers were asked to describe the behavioral and emotional characteristics of their children using a standardized psychology checklist," newswise.com reports.

Researchers identified 80 "probable autistic children" from a population of 4,039 -- a number consistent with the Dutch rate of autism spectrum disorders. The Web site notes that expectant mothers' poor thyroid function (whether caused by poor diet, disease, or genetics)" can lead to serious problems with fetal brain development, but only in the last 10 years or so has hypothyroidism been implicated as a possible cause of autism spectrum disorders."

So what if you're pregnant now or plan to conceive?  Doctors say have your urine iodine and thyroid function measured beforehand. If you have just become pregnant, have your doctor measure urine iodine, thyroid function, and begin using prenatal vitamins, making sure iodine is present.





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