In ancient days people used to pray for the birth of a boy child as girls were considered to be a burden to the family-as they had to be raised and married off which incurred expenses for the dad. Times have changed and its now evident that parents love to give birth to girl babies! The only thing that they pray for is for the birth of a hale and healthy baby, that’s nowadays become a rarity with the haphazard lifestyles and environmental factors affecting us. Babies are born with physical deformities, jaundice, juvenile diabetes or mental health problems such as autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that disrupts the quality of life of both the child and his/her parents.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be blamed on a combination of both genetic and environmental factors and one genetic factor has surprised researchers dwelling on the root cause of the disorder-DNA mutations originating in father’s sperm. Read more about autism and the effect of environmental influence on it by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com. The disorder was prevalent during earlier times too but has become more prevalent owing to various factors such as improved technology to diagnose the disease and a numerous amount of environmental and genetic changes that have happened for the worse. Experts agree that autism is inherited as observations and research show that it tends to run in the families. Researchers started looking out for “epigenetic tags” that regulates which genes are switched-on or expressed. Basically, they wanted to check out the process that happens before someone is affected by autism.
Sperms are Increasingly Susceptible to Environmental Changes
Its quite easy to acquire a sample of sperms from men in comparison to eggs from women. Also, sperms are easily more affected by environmental changes that could alter the epigenetic tags in their DNA. A study on the effect of epigenetic tags on autism risk showed that several altered epigenetic patterns were found in the brains of individuals with autism showing that these tags could be linked to autism. It concluded that epigenetic changes in the father’s DNA increases the likelihood of the child developing ASD in families where there is already one child with the condition.
We also have studies linking autism risk to changes in DNA that occur in sperms and such mutations cause 10-30% of autism cases. Another risk factor that increase the frequency of mutations is the dad’s age-older the father at the time of conception higher is the chance that the sperm will result in new mutations that can lead to ASD. This made some researchers to find out whether they could match certain disease-causing genetic mutations in the DNA of kids with autism to the same mutations in their dad’s sperm. They matched the changes found in kids to the ones found in dads and concluded that the new mutations were definitely playing some part in contributing to autism. This can help scientists come up with a test to help fathers with an autistic child to know how likelier they are to have another one who could suffer from autism and also tell couples their possibility of giving birth to a child with autism.
We have more than 165 genetic mutations linked to autism and conducting tests on the dad’s sperm for some of these mutations could predict the risk of autism in his child. This could help parents make decisions based on this information-this is not only restricted to autism but also extends to other conditions such as schizophrenia, epilepsy and neurodegenerative diseases.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.