Autism linked to salt in the nerves at birth

Scientists at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research have found a tentative link between salt levels in neurons during birth and autism.

The full article which appeared in The Independent on January 11, cites the research conducted by Dr Yehzeckel Ben-Ami and his team.

They looked at the relationship between the love hormone, Oxytocin and the levels of Chloride, a composite chemical in natural salt, during the birthing process.

Autism Daily Newscast reported the benefits of Oxytocin in 2013. It is basically the bonding hormone between mother and baby after the birth, which effectively make child and mother fall in love with each other.

Chloride acts as an inhibitor in the nervous system, physically inhibiting the natural flow of Oxytocin in the child, which can lead to autistic spectrum traits in early childhood.

Chloride ions are high during gestation of the foetus in the womb, but decrease dramatically during the birthing process allowing the rush of Oxytocin into the system of the newborn.

They tested he theory in a number of laboratory mice genetically depositioned to have the animal form of autistic behaviour. Researchers gave the mice an anti diuretic medicine which lowered the amount of chloride ions they possessed, which inhibited the autistic traits from making themselves apparent in their offspring.

The results coincide with a trial of fifty autistic children in 2012, who were given an anti diuretic to improve their autistic symptoms.

Dr Ben-Ali said:

“We have proven the concept that in autism chloride is elevated and perhaps our diuretic acts by reducing that. The evidence was lacking until now. These data validate our treatment strategy, and suggest that oxytocin, by acting on the chloride levels during delivery modulates [and] controls the expression of autism spectrum disorder.

“We showed that if you deliver diuretic to the mother before birth and delivery, then the offspring have so to speak been cured… whereas if you block oxytocin, you get autism. I think that an early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, coupled with a [diuretic] drug such as bumetanide or other regulators acting to reduce aberrant brain activities that perturb neuronal activities, are likely future therapies “