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Breastfeeding May Prevent Autism

Update Date: Nov 08, 2013 07:11 AM EST
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A call for the testing of umbilical cord blood for levels of a growth protein has been made by experts. They suspect that it could predict an infant’s propensity to develop autism at later stage.

The article was published in Medical Hypotheses by a New York-based physician and researcher from the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The study is based on the analysis of findings of the previous published studies. One of such studies were performed by Dr. Steinman who pointed that breastfeeding as a relatively abundant source of protein. In his studies he mentioned that IGF delivered via breastfeeding is likely to compensate for any inborn deficiency of growth factors in the newborn child.

“By assessing our own research, along with dozens of other relevant studies, there is a strong case to be made that IGF – known to be deeply involved in the normal growth and development of babies’ brain cells – also serves a biomarker for autism,” said Dr. Steinman in a press release.

"This leads to two conclusions. First, we need to more deeply assess this hypothesis by conducting umbilical cord blood tests that measure neonatal levels of this growth factor, and then match those results against future autism occurrence in the maturing child.

“Second, those who embrace the hypothesis that IGF is indeed an autism biomarker should advocate and encourage breastfeeding as a highly accessible means of supplementing an infant’s natural levels of the protein.”

In case there is scarcity in the natural supply of IGF in a newborn they could receive supplemental amounts of protein. It could be via breastfeeding or through any other mean. As a result the baby develops into an active child. Subsequently it contributes to more-effective brain function.

Breastfeeding is a natural source of IGF. However this could also be delivered through bovine milk or even added as a supplement to various potable liquids.

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