Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have linked autism in children to the father’s sperm, according to their latest study.
In the study, researchers looked for possible causes for the condition in epigenetic tags, that help regulate genes’ activity, from the sperm of 44 fathers. The men were a part of an ongoing study to assess the factors that influence the child early on, before the autism was diagnosed, according to Daily Mail.
One year after the child was born, he or she was assessed for early signs of autism using the Autism Observation Scale for Infants (AOSI). After looking for epigenetic tags at 450,000 different positions throughout the genome, scientists compared the likelihood of a tag being in a particular site with the AOSI scores of each child. They found 193 different sites where the presence or absence of a tag was statistically related to the AOSI scores, as reported by Belfast Telegraph.
Four out of ten sites most strongly linked to the AOSI scores were of particular interest and were located near genes linked to Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic disorder that shares some behavioral symptoms with autism. This research is published online in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Professor Daniele Fallin” author_title=”Chairwoman of the Department of Mental Health in the Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities”]
If epigenetic changes are being passed from fathers to their children, we should be able to detect them in sperm.
In an unrelated story, autism symptoms in child were improved with antibiotics for strep throat. Molecular biologist John Rodakis has called on researchers to begin studies and find out how certain antibiotics could be used for treatment of autism symptoms.