Prenatal toxoplasmosis antibody and childhood autism
Spann, M. N., Sourander, A., Surcel, H. M., Hinkka-Yli-Salomaki, S., Brown, A. S.
Autism Research 2017; 10: 769-777
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here is evidence that some maternal infections during the prenatal period are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as childhood autism. However, the association between autism and Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), an intracellular parasite, remains unclear. The authors examined whether serologically confirmed maternal antibodies to T. gondii are associated with odds of childhood autism in offspring. The study is based on a nested case-control design of a large national birth cohort (N=1.2 million) and the national psychiatric registries in Finland. There were 874 cases of childhood autism and controls matched 1: 1 on date of birth, sex, birthplace and residence in Finland. Maternal sera were prospectively assayed from a national biobank for T. gondii IgM and IgG antibodies; IgG avidity analyses were also performed. High maternal T. gondii IgM antibody was associated with a significantly decreased odds of childhood autism. Low maternal T. gondii IgG antibody was associated with increased offspring odds of autism. In women with high T. gondii IgM antibodies, the IgG avidity was high for both cases and controls, with the exception of three controls. The findings suggest that the relationship between maternal T. gondii antibodies and odds of childhood autism may be related to the immune response to this pathogen or the overall activation of the immune system.