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A Possible Link between Pregnancy, Car Accidents, and Autism

Posted on in Car Accidents

Wisconsin personal injury attorney, Wisconsin car crash lawyerSerious car accidents can be traumatic and difficult for any person involved. They can lead to severe injuries, as well as emotional harm. However, new research suggests that unborn children may be particularly at risk if their mothers are involved in a car accident. A new study by researchers at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and recently published in the academic journal Neuron reveals that traumatic brain injuries to the child during the second or third trimester of the pregnancy may make children more prone to autism spectrum disorders. More specifically, the cause may be related to damage to a region of the brain known as the cerebellum.

What the Cerebellum Does

The cerebellum is a lower portion of the brain, sitting just above and behind a person's brain stem. The cerebellum is the portion of the brain responsible for sensory processing and motor control. It does not initiate a person's movement, but it coordinates the movement's timing and precision based on signals coming in from the outside world. Despite this somewhat limited role, the new research suggests that the cerebellum may also play an important role in a child's development. In fact, in the paper's review of children with injuries to their cerebellum at birth, the authors report a statistically significant increase in the instances of autism and other autism spectrum disorders.

How This May Cause Autism

The paper's authors report that these cerebellar injuries, such as those that could be sustained during a car accident, may increase a child's risk for autism because of the coordinating function that the cerebellum plays and how that function may impact a child's development. The theory is that the cerebellum, which processes sensory information, may be responsible for coordinating that sensory information to develop an understanding of social cues.

One example that the paper provides is that of a parent's smile. Smiles are just an expression, and nothing about them would inherently trigger the reward center in the child's brain. However, as time goes on, the cerebellum may begin to associate the visual input of the parent's smile with being fed or other rewards. This would form a social cue in the child's mind that smiles are associated with good things or happiness. If the cerebellum sustained an injury, like a bruising during a traffic accident, then it could fail to draw those connections, which would stunt a child's social development and possibly leave them at greater risk for autism.

If you or one of your loved ones has recently been involved in a traffic accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Milwaukee traffic accident attorney today. Our team of dedicated professionals is here to fight for your rights and to help answer any questions you may have about the process.
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