Friday, May 6, 2016

Asthma and Autism Risks

Researchers have been looking into some of the triggers that bring about autism. In one study they found that uncontrolled asthma had more likely cases of preterm birth, lower birth weight, and more frequent trips to the neonatal intensive care unit. Those factors increase the risk of being diagnosed with autism. The women that had regularly prescribed medicine, specifically asthma control inhalers and pill forms with beta-agonist compounds were also looked at in the study compared to women without. They studied 245 pregnant women altogether. As we have learned in class genes can be altered due to environmental risks such as radiation, and chemical imbalances can block certain proteins from working. What they found is that some beta-agonist medicines had a possible effect of increasing the odds of autism spectrum disorders by about 30%. There are other factors that may increase the likelihood of autism developing in an embryo, as there are genes linked to the probability of autism as well plenty of other medications and drugs that can increase the chances.

But medicines such as albuterol, salmeterol, and formoterol are beta-agonists that control the effect of the β-2 adrenergic receptors which can trigger asthma and they are a commonly prescribed treatment for the disease. And these were the ones noted in the study. It is in no way recommended to stop your asthma treatment if you are pregnant, and this was stated in the article because while there is a slight increase in the chances it is not a cause and effect situation. Meaning that medicine alone is not the main trigger for the disease, as there are other factors involved. For the mother being able to breathe and prevent oxygen deprivation or blood flow loss to the fetus are among the most important things in having a child born healthy. The study was done in order to find more of environmental factors for autism and certain asthma medications happened to show some signs of increased probability.


  1. Wow – I never really thought about something like uncontrolled asthma having such a dramatic impact on a baby when in the womb. It is especially interesting that it can increase the likelihood of autism. The birth defects that you listed such as low birth weight and preterm birth are more likely to be predicted considering there’s a lack of oxygen getting to the fetus.. I can only imagine the many other birth defects that could result from this. Very informative!

  2. This is certainly anot informative article. I found it very interesting that women who have asthma may not even have a choice to stop their prescribed medication despite the risks of autism for their child. Very interesting!