Pregnant women in U.S. may participate in autism study


Researchers in the EARLI Network will study possible risk factors and biological indicators for ASD during the prenatal, neonatal, and early postnatal time periods. The researchers plan to follow 1,200 mothers of children with ASD at the start of a new pregnancy and document the development of their newborns through 36 months of age. This study will provide a unique opportunity for studying possible ASD environmental risk factors and biomarkers during different developmental windows as well as an opportunity to investigate the interplay of genetic susceptibility and environmental exposure. A number of environmental exposures, ranging from suspected neurotoxicants, like persistent organic pollutants to medications taken during pregnancy, could potentially be investigated with data and samples collected in EARLI. The study will also add considerably to current knowledge of the natural history and progression of ASD.

Where the study is happening:
The four Network field sites include: Southeast Pennsylvania (Drexel University, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and University of Pennsylvania); Northeast Maryland (Johns Hopkins University and Kennedy Krieger Institute); Northern California UC Davis (UC Davis and the M.I.N.D. Institute); and Northern California, Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser PermanenteDivision of Research).

Each of the field sites have clinical collaborators who will oversee the developmental assessments of the siblings born into the study.

The EARLI Network Administrative Center will be based at the Drexel University School of Public Health. A Data Coordinating Center and a Central Lab and Repository will be housed at UC Davis and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, respectively. The Central Lab will store the collected biosamples. Identifying information is separated from the stored biosamples in order to assure that confidentiality is maintained.

How many participants and who they represent:
The goal is to gather information about 1,000 siblings of children with an ASD diagnosis from fetal life through 36 months of age. Data will be collected on the mother, father, the baby born into the study, and the child with an ASD diagnosis.

Who sponsors this study:
The EARLI Study is funded by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) ASD Center of Excellence (ACE) grant and has received supplemental support from Autism Speaks.

To participate in the study and learn more click here

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