Can the researchers help foretell an infant’s tendency to develop autism later on in life? New study hints that during the process of breastfeeding, an insulin like growth factor called the IGF is produced, that can help predict whether a baby has a tendency to develop autism later.

The research study

Touro researcher, Gary Steinman, who carried out the research study showed that earlier also many studies, have shown a connection between IGF and various neural and growth functions. According to Steinman, IGF can be passed on in abundant quantities through the process of breast feeding to the baby and has the capability of taking care of any inborn deficiency of this protein or growth factor in newly born babies.

He further stated “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.”

Go for breastfeeding

Steinman felt that more focus is needed in this direction and the hypothesis chalked on needs to be assessed in more detail. For this the doctor felt that they could carry out “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.”

He cleared his study findings further by talking about the next step in the study stating “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.”

The brain function of the child does depend to a large extent on the IGF and Steinman feels that in case the inherent supply of IGF protein in the infant’s body is low it can be supplemented by either breastfeeding or through other simple methods so that the brain development of the child is normal.

So is the IGF a biomarker and will it shows the autistic characteristics later on? In case this is how it is then it is better that the researchers assess the protein levels of the infants through a biomarker blood test.

The research study has been published in the journal Medical Hypotheses.

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