Correlation of opioid-based teratogens and genetic variations as a causative factor for Autism
Author : Tanvi Kamra
Lotus Valley International School, Expressway, Noida, 201305, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is categorized as a neurodevelopmental disorder with multifactorial causes which are either genetic or environmental or a combination of both. While there is a heavy focus on genetic causes of autism, environmental causes are very much prevalent. Drugs such as opioids when consumed during the peri- and pre-natal stages of pregnancy can lead to adverse neurodevelopment of the foetus by in utero transfer of such chemicals. Through this paper, we review the correlation that exists between opioid-based teratogens and genetic modifications, such as epigenetic changes with reference to the causes of ASD. The results of studies and preliminary experiments reviewed in this paper highlight associations between opioid consumption and the odds of having a child with ASD symptoms. The insights gained through the various studies indicate epigenetic change similarities in people who have ASD and in people who consume opioids. The experiments reviewed are in highly controlled settings and lay the groundwork of the possibility existing in such scenarios; however, opioid usage and substance abuse is a highly illicit affair, affecting pregnancies throughout the globe. The future findings should include the study of the fetal brain development in people who are frequent consumers and addicts and also conduct surveys to indicate the consumption timeline pre- and post-conception.