Name of study: Mother's sleep apnea may increase risk of autism-like changes in their male offspring
By who and where: University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
What does it say?
✥ Expecting mothers suffering from obstructive sleep have high chances of having male progeny with behavioural changes associated with autism.
✥ The researchers pinpoint that there is evidence that supports the link between sleep apnea and neuro developmental disorders.
✥ In sleep apnea, breathing is partially or completely interrupted during sleep. Maternal hypoxia, impaired cognitive and social function were noticed in male, but not in female offspring.
Mtr pathway is the key
Dr (Lt Col) Leena N Sreedhar, HOD, Department of Academics and Research, HCMCT Manipal Hospital, Delhi
In the experiments done on pregnant rats, certain cognitive and social functions were found to be abnormal in males. It has been noticed that in cases of autistic babies there has been an increased activity of cell signal pathways, which factors in the increase in the Mtr pathway. So if we can have a drug that can integrate this particular Mtr pathway then whenever there is a decrease in the oxygen levels of the mother when she has sleep apnea, it could prevent injury to the nervous system of the unborn baby.
No conclusive data
Dr Radhamany K, Clinical Professor and Head, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Amrita Hospital, Kochi
Obesity increases the risk of obstructive sleep apnea in pregnant women. Some adverse maternal outcomes noticed include hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and gestational diabetes. Most of the currently available human data were reported in studies that used heterogeneous populations with non-objective tools which are usually inconclusive. In the present study, pregnant rats are subjected to periods of induced hypoxia which would again be a limitation in a human study. Retrospective analysis of few cases in our tertiary centre did not give conclusive evidence.