Zebrafish study: Taking migraine meds while pregnant linked to autism in children
02/11/2018 // Jhoanna Robinson // Views

A research study conducted at the Oregon State University and Wenzhou Medical University showed that exposure to a compound used to treat migraines and seizures causes symptoms related to autism. The researchers used zebrafish as a model to conduct a study on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their causes.

“The main thing we want to emphasize is the usefulness of this model. We can very quickly look at genetic and environmental factors associated with autism that are very difficult to understand in humans. The ease and speed of the genetic analysis in this model make it very attractive compared to a rodent model,” said co-author Courtney Roper, a postdoctoral fellow in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

ASD consists of five related neurodevelopmental diseases that are defined by extreme impairments in social interactions, inability to have proper modes of verbal and nonverbal communications, repetitive behavioral patterns, and weird sensitivity to sensory stimulation.

The causes of autism are not known, but it has been linked with both genetic and environmental components, including prenatal exposure to two drugs: thalidomide, a sedative linked to severe birth defects, and valproic acid, which is used to prevent migraine headaches. (Related: Autism, mercury, aluminum and vaccine-induced encephalopathy)

Autism diagnoses have been rising since the 1990s. About one child in 68, will be classified as having autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


ASD affects all ethnic, socioeconomic, and racial groups but is around 4.5 times more common among boys (one in 42) than girls (one in 189).

Zebrafish are small freshwater species that go from a tiny cell to a swimming fish in just five days. They reproduce at a fast rate and are essential for studying the genetic components of vertebrates, including the effects of environmental contaminants and pharmaceuticals on early embryonic development.

Zebrafish have an uncanny likeness to humans at the genetic, cellular, and molecular levels; this means that the implications of findings associated with zebrafish are extremely relevant to humans.

Studies on embryonic zebrafish are particularly important, for embryonic zebrafish develop quickly, are transparent, and can easily thrive even in small amounts of water.

The research's findings concluded that treating zebrafish embryos with valproic acid starting eight hours after fertilization results in a significant rise in the ASD macrocephalic phenotype, that is, an enlarged head.

It also caused hyperactivity in embryos and larvae.

“In addition to the ASD-like characteristics, we observed an overgrowth of mature newborn neurons and neural stem cells in the developing brain after VPA exposure. Next, now that we have models for behavior established, is to start looking at the genetic and environmental interactions, examining some of the potential factors that might be driving autism in humans,” Roper said.

The findings were published in the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology. The National Natural Science Foundation of China supported the conduct of this research.

More on autism spectrum disorder

Some of the behavioral and medical conditions that are associated with autism spectrum disorder include anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, gastrointestinal problems, depression, epilepsy, and sleep disturbances.

According to the CDC, children with autism are:

  • 1.8 times more likely than children without developmental illnesses to have asthma
  • 1.8 times more likely to have eczema
  • 1.8 times more likely to have food allergies
  • 2.2 times more likely to have chronic headaches
  • 3.5 times more likely to have chronic diarrhea

For more stories on disorders of the mind and behavior, visit Mind.news.


Sources include:




Take Action:
Support Natural News by linking to this article from your website.
Permalink to this article:
Embed article link:
Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use is permitted with credit to NaturalNews.com (including a clickable link).
Please contact us for more information.
Free Email Alerts
Get independent news alerts on natural cures, food lab tests, cannabis medicine, science, robotics, drones, privacy and more.
App Store
Android App
eTrust Pro Certified

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2022 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

This site uses cookies
Natural News uses cookies to improve your experience on our site. By using this site, you agree to our privacy policy.
Learn More
Get 100% real, uncensored news delivered straight to your inbox
You can unsubscribe at any time. Your email privacy is completely protected.