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Polygence Scholar2023
Joseph Song's profile

Joseph Song

Whittier Christian High SchoolClass of 2023La Habra Heights, CA


Howdy! Name's Joseph and I'm interested in learning about the biological and chemical basis of autism and mental illness.


  • "What are the implications of environmental maternal stress factors and the biological mechanism behind their positive correlation with autism?" with mentor Eric (Mar. 21, 2023)

Joseph's Symposium Presentation

Project Portfolio

What are the implications of environmental maternal stress factors and the biological mechanism behind their positive correlation with autism?

Started Aug. 15, 2022

Abstract or project description

Prenatal environmental maternal stress has been positively correlated with social and emotional development of the infant, which creates the foundation for future mental and emotional health. These stress factors have also been implicated with increased rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. Autism has also been linked to these environmental stress factors. Specifically, maternal stress has been shown to possibly alter the DNA methylation of genes, which links to autism. One particular gene that has been linked to changes in mental health is NR3C1. NR3C1, usually associated with long-term development of anxiety and depression, is a glucocorticoid receptor whose activity may also be correlated with autism. Furthermore, the DNA methylation of NR3C1 has hereditary properties with a higher correlation with infants of the male sex. This coincides with the higher rates of autism in males than females. Other genes are likely involved in the biological mechanism behind the connection between maternal stress and development of autism.

There are numerous explanations behind maternal stress that emphasize societal norms. For example, an increased risk of abuse and societal expectations of womanhood/motherhood may generate different kinds of stress, such as traumatic stress. These explanations are bolstered by the higher rates of post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicide ideation in women. These potential explanations establish a link between autism and existing social constructs, suggesting that reform in societal norms may reduce the risk of autism development in future infants. In this review paper, I will utilize primary research articles and literature. Specifically, I intend to gather research and reviews from both medical and non-medical publication sources. (265 words)