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Pilot Study of Maternal Autoantibody–Related Autism



The objective of this study was to investigate the presence of maternal autoantibody-related autism spectrum disorder (MAR-ASD) in 2 geographically distinct DBPNet clinical sites (Pennsylvania and Arkansas). MAR-ASD is a biologically defined subtype of ASD that is defined by the presence of autoantibodies specific to proteins in the fetal brain and present in approximately 20% of a Northern California sample but has not been studied in other states.


Sixty-eight mothers of children with ASD were recruited from 2 DBPNet clinics and provided blood samples. Mothers also completed behavioral questionnaires about their children, and data from the child's clinical diagnostic assessment were abstracted.


The mean age of mothers was 38.5 ± 6.1 years, and the mean age of children was 8.3 ± 2.7 years. MAR-ASD was present in 24% of the sample and similar across sites. Children of +MAR mothers had more severe autism symptoms as measured by Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule comparison scores (W = 3604; p < 0.001) and the Social Communication Questionnaire (W = 4556; p < 0.001). There were no differences in IQ, adaptive function, or aberrant behavior.


MAR-ASD is a subtype of autism that is present in similar frequencies across 3 states and related to autism severity.

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