Symptom severity in autism spectrum disorder is related to the frequency and severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy: a retrospective case-control study.
Mol Autism. 2018;9:37
Authors: Whitehouse AJO, Alvares GA, Cleary D, Harun A, Stojanoska A, Taylor LJ, Varcin KJ, Maybery M
Background: Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (NVP) is thought to be caused by changes in maternal hormones during pregnancy. Differences in hormone exposure during prenatal life have been implicated in the causal pathways for some cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, no study has investigated whether the presence and severity of NVP may be related to symptom severity in offspring with ASD.
Methods: A large sample of children with ASD (227 males and 60 females, aged 2 to 18 years) received a clinical assessment, during which parents completed questionnaires regarding their child’s social (Social Responsiveness Scale, SRS) and communication (Children’s Communication Checklist-2nd edition, CCC-2) symptoms. Parents also reported on a 5-point scale the frequency and severity of NVPs during the pregnancy of the child being assessed: (1) no NVP during the pregnancy, (2) occasional nausea, but no vomiting, (3) daily nausea, but no vomiting, (4) occasional vomiting, with or without nausea, and (5) daily nausea and vomiting.
Results: Impairments in social responsiveness in offspring, as indexed by SRS total score, significantly increased as a function of the frequency and severity of their mothers’ NVP, as did the level of language difficulties as indexed by the Global Communication Composite of the CCC-2.
Conclusions: The strong, positive association between increasing frequency and severity of NVP and ASD severity in offspring provides further evidence that exposure to an atypical hormonal environment during prenatal life may affect neurodevelopment and contribute to the ASD phenotype. Given that the measure of NVP symptoms in the current study was based on retrospective recall, replication of this finding is required before strong conclusions can be drawn.
PMID: 29951183 [PubMed – in process]