Scientists at the University of Melbourne have shown for the first time that stress can trigger the development of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
Dr D. Michael Bailey from the Centre for Mind, Brain and Social Development at the university’s School of Psychology and the Centre of Excellence for Autism Research, and colleagues conducted a large-scale longitudinal study of a large cohort of children in a rural community in Australia.
The study included 826 children aged from three to six years old, with a median age of 12 years.
In their study, they recorded how much each child was stressed, their socio-economic status, their family life, their social behaviours and their general health.
Their findings showed that children with ASDs were more likely to have been exposed to a large number of stressful events in their lifetime, and that this exposure was linked to a higher prevalence of autism.
The researchers found that children who experienced a lot of stress experienced a higher risk of developing ASDs.
This increased risk was related to the number of people with ASD who had a history of stressful experiences.
These included exposure to a high level of stress at home, the lack of social support, a lack of friends, and the social isolation.
These events are all linked to higher levels of stress.
The study also found that the number and severity of the stressful events were linked to the likelihood of developing ASD.
The findings were published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
This research is the first to show that stress is directly linked to ASD risk, and highlights the importance of early intervention and the need for interventions to prevent the development and spread of ASDs, the researchers said.
The risk of ASD is also higher in children with a family history of ASD, the study found.
This was confirmed by other studies, including those by Dr Bailey’s team that showed that autism was more common in those with a parent with a medical condition linked to ASDs such as Asperger’s syndrome.
Dr Bailey said the findings were “quite unexpected”.
“This is an unexpected finding, but it does mean that more and more children are being diagnosed with autism as a result of stress,” he said.
“There are also other environmental factors that can be linked to autism, such as lack of family support, poor nutrition and poor hygiene, which all can play a role in the development.”
These factors may also play a key role in shaping a child’s experience of stress, and this could also contribute to the development or spread of autism.
“The team also discovered that stress was linked with an increased risk of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
In schizophrenia, the child with a history is diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression.
In bipolar disorder, the disorder causes a loss of insight and can lead to delusions and suicidal thoughts.
These can be extremely distressing experiences for children with ASD, especially in children who have not experienced trauma or loss in their lives.
The team said there were two types of ASD, and there was “an increasing consensus” that the severity of autism and the stress level contributed to both.”
The idea that these two conditions can be so closely linked is exciting, but the science is still not completely there yet.””
For bipolar disorder there is also a clear link between stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms.”
The idea that these two conditions can be so closely linked is exciting, but the science is still not completely there yet.
“Topics:diseases-and-disorders,psychiatry,mental-health,autism,children,health,science-and_technology,sustainability,research,psychology,southern-australia,vic,auFirst posted April 09, 2020 13:22:11Contact Adam RobertsMore stories from Victoria