Im Pregnant What Can I Do To Avoid Environmental Risks
As researchers discover more environmental risk factors for autism, our community justifiably wonders if any are preventable. First its important to note that when scientists speak of environmental risk factors, theyre talking about more than exposures to toxic chemicals. By environmental, were referring to pretty much any influence beyond inherited genes. Preterm birth with low birth weight, for example, is an environmental risk factor for autism spectrum disorder . Unfortunately, low birth weight often results from unavoidable exposures.
Less clear is the association between autism risk and a mothers exposure to heavy metals and other potentially toxic chemicals during or even before pregnancy. There is reason to be concerned about high levels of exposure to toxic chemicals in our environment. For this reason, Autism Speaks continues to support research to better understand the effects of chemical exposures during pregnancy.
We have preliminary evidence that pesticides may increase risk of autism. But we cannot, at this time, say that avoiding exposure of pesticides or any particular chemical will reduce autism risk in a child or future child.
We want to emphasize that, we cannot say whether reducing exposure to these chemicals will lower the risk of autism in a future child. However, we do know that avoiding exposure to these particular chemicals may improve the overall outcome of the child throughout the entire life.
Maternal Vitamin D Deficiency And Impact On The Offspring
Maternal VD deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of ASD development in infants. The evidence for an elevated prevalence of ASD among children born to mothers with a putative reduction in VD skin synthesis during pregnancy has classically been considered evidence that hypovitaminosis D and ASD development are strictly related . Babies conceived in winter months and those born to dark-skinned women who had immigrated to high-latitude countries were more frequently diagnosed with ASD than those conceived in summer months and those born to light-skinned migrants, respectively . However, the results of these studies remain inconclusive for several reasons and recent studies did not seem to associate season of birth and ASD .
Other studies with highly debatable conclusions include the studies that have tried to demonstrate a link between the VD status of pregnant women and the neuropsychiatric development of their infants. Magnusson et al. , using a register-based total population study , studied the association between ASD with and without intellectual disability and lifetime diagnoses of maternal VD deficiency. The offspring’s risk of ASD with, but not without, intellectual disability was found to be associated with reduced VD concentrations . However, the trends in ASD prevalence in USA are not related to trends in serum 25D3 level, which are little changed compared to changes in ASD prevalence .
How Does Your Health Come Into Play
Researchers know that maternal health during pregnancy has an impact on the unborn child, and ASD is certainly no exception to this rule. “For instance, women who are severely ill and require hospitalization during pregnancy may be more likely to have children who develop autism,” says Dr. Wang. Specifically, studies have shown associations between maternal infections during pregnancy and subsequent risk for their children developing an autism spectrum disorder.
In general, women should do what they can to remain healthy during pregnancy. “This includes optimizing nutrition, taking prenatal vitamins as recommended by their obstetrician, avoiding exposure to unnecessary drugs and medications, and ensuring that their own vaccinations are up to date,” says Dr. Wang. Also, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that gestational diabetes developed by 26 weeks is linked with an increased risk to ASD. Ask your doctor about the right plan for you and then stick with it.
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Study In Rats Suggests Prenatal Microbial Exposures Influence Neurodevelopment
- University of Colorado at Boulder
- Giving beneficial bacteria to stressed mothers during the equivalent of the third trimester of pregnancy prevents an autism-like disorder in their offspring, according to a new animal study.
Giving beneficial bacteria to stressed mothers during the equivalent of the third trimester of pregnancy prevents an autism-like disorder in their offspring, according to a new animal study by University of Colorado Boulder researchers.
The study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, marks the latest in a series of studies in animals and humans suggesting that exposure to certain immune-modulating microbes can dampen inflammation, positively impacting the brain and central nervous system.
It’s among the first studies to suggest that such exposures during pregnancy influence neurodevelopment of a fetus and, while far more research is necessary, could open the door to new prenatal interventions.
“It suggests that you could develop microbial interventions that lower the risk of neurodevelopmental syndromes like autism,” said co-author Christopher Lowry, an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology.
In humans, research has long shown that maternal stress during pregnancy prompts systemic inflammation in both the mother and fetus and is a risk factor for autism, said senior author Daniel Barth, a professor of psychology and neuroscience.
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Vitamin D Deficiency In Animals Causes Brain Structural And Functional Alterations Similar To Those Found In Humans With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Animal studies have indicated that VD performs several functions in the brain . VD is a strong differentiating agent for developing nervous system cells. It controls the number and characteristics of nervous system cells, decreasing the expression of genes that regulate cell proliferation, apoptosis, and neurite formation . VD modulates calcium metabolism through the downregulation of voltage-sensitive L-type calcium channels to protect neuronal cells against excessive calcium influx . VD blocks the uptake of reactive oxygen species and inhibits the production of nitric oxide, thus limiting the damage induced by reactive oxygen species to lipid membranes . Finally, VD modulates a number of neurotrophic factors that are essential for hippocampal neuronal development and maintenance and for primary cortical neurons, and it also induces an anti-inflammatory response through regulation of the immune system .
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Reducing Exposure To Toxins
The scientific community has discovered evidence that environmental factors often play a role in developing autism. One Harvard study found that children born to mothers exposed to high pollution levels had twice the risk of ASD. Pregnant women can limit airborne toxins by wearing masks, filling their gas tank after dark, and staying indoors when air quality is low. Its best to avoid areas with high traffic, especially when exercising. For the duration of pregnancy, women should eliminate alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. Switching to green personal care products is wise to lessen exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Some doctors also suggest avoiding canned foods, plastic water bottles, and excessive cell phone use.
Could Taking Certain Medications Increase Your Risk
Researchers have found potential links between the medication a mother takes while pregnant and autism risk. For instance, use of anti-depressants has shown association with autism across multiple studies, says Dr. Fallin, though it remains unclear whether this link is related specifically to the drugs or to the mother’s depression itself. Also, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that valproate, a medication used to treat epilepsy and other neurological disorders, can increase the risk for autism. It’s crucial that you work with your doctor to determine whether the benefits of any medications you take outweigh the risks. In many cases, they will: “If a mother has epilepsy, it is very important that it be controlled during pregnancy, even if that requires valproate,” explains Dr. Wang. “If the mother has a seizure while pregnant, that is potentially a much bigger risk to the fetus than the drug that controls her seizures.”
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Signs Of Nonverbal Communication Difficulties
- Avoids eye contact.
- Uses facial expressions that dont match what they are saying
- Doesnt pick up on other peoples facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures.
- Makes very few gestures . May come across as cold or robot-like.
- Reacts unusually to sights, smells, textures, and sounds. May be especially sensitive to loud noises. Can also be unresponsive to people entering/leaving, as well as efforts by others to attract the childs attention.
- Atypical posture, clumsiness, or eccentric ways of moving .
Children with autism spectrum disorder have trouble picking up on subtle nonverbal cues and using body language. This makes the give-and-take of social interaction very difficult.
How To Reduce The Risk Of Autism
A higher risk of having a child on the autism spectrum is associated with several pregnancy-related issues. Some of these, such as the use of certain pharmaceuticals during pregnancy, can be managed to reduce the risk. Others, however, are difficult, if not impossible, to change.
Its important to remember that an association is not the same thing as a cause. For example, it’s a fact that preterm babies are more likely to have autism than full-term babies, but it’s not known exactly why. The reasons may actually relate more to genetics or to socioeconomic factors than to the behaviors of the birth parent.
This article will discuss the pregnancy-related risk factors for autism, with a look at which factors are supported by the most evidence, which have weaker associations, and what you can do to reduce the risk.
Increase: The Diet Stinks
Everyone has an opinion on what others eat. Prepackaged food is loaded with unnatural colors, arsenics and chemicals that are not really meant for consumption. There is a lot of chatter about how a child is fed and behavioral problems. There is talk that certain eating habits and chemicals can increase the risk for autism in kids. For pregnant women, the same risk is there. Prepackaged foods can put a womans unborn kiddo at a risk for autism. Of course, we all know the best foods to eat are natural foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. Going with organic is not a bad idea because they are not sprayed with the yucky chemicals that non-organic foods are. It can be hard to know what foods increase the risk of autism, so the best bet is to do thorough research and have the family eat as healthy as possible.
Does Maternal Weight Affect A Child’s Autism Risk
Research from the University of Utah published in the November 2013 issue of Pediatrics suggests a potential link between excess pregnancy pounds and autism risk. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends women gain no more than 35 pounds during pregnancy . In the study, incremental 5-pound increases in weight above ACOG’s recommendation were linked to a slightly higher, yet significant risk for autism.
Previous studies indicate a possible connection to a woman’s pre-pregnancy body mass index , pregnancy weight gain, and a child’s risk of autism. One theory is that excess body fat may change a woman’s hormone levels or cause inflammation that affects fetal brain development. “Obesity rates and autism rates have both gone up over the past decades, yet that doesn’t mean the two are connected,” says Anna Maria Wilms Floet, M.D., a behavioral developmental pediatrician at the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders in Baltimore. The bottom line: “Women should watch their weight gain during pregnancy to prevent problems like diabetes and high blood pressure,” says Dr. Wilms Floet.
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Decrease: Beware Of Chemicals
Maternal exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy seems to increase the risk for ASD. A way mama can eliminate the risk is to avoid certain chemicals. Limiting the intake of processed/prepackaged/ and canned foods, avoiding water bottles made of plastic or aluminum, and steering clear of personal care products that contain fragrance as an ingredient may be beneficial. Avoiding or limiting use of certain household cleaning products and weed killers absolutely cannot hurt as well. Of course, it is impossible to avoid every chemical. There needs to be much further research done on additional chemicals and the correlation to autism, but to be safe, avoiding as much as you can cannot hurt. Avoiding toxic chemicals can be very helpful in the mission to avoid autism.
Should You Space Out Your Pregnancies
A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found that pregnancies spaced between 2 and 5 years apart have the lowest risk of a child developing autism. Researchers found that those children conceived after less than 12 months were 50 percent more likely to end up with a diagnosis as compared with children conceived between that 2-and-5-year time frame, though it’s unclear why.
Meanwhile, those conceived after more than 60 months were 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed. However, keep in mind that autism risk increases with both parents’ ages at conception and that a woman’s fertility declines as she gets older. When it comes to timing, work with your doctor to determine the best plan for you and your family.
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What Causes Autism During Pregnancy
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder. tend to have problems with social interaction and communication and is the name for a range of similar conditions, including Asperger syndrome.
Researchers have not yet found a particular cause of ASD.
ASD can be caused due to some genetic issues or environmental problems or may be due to the combination of both that affects 1 out of 68 children.
If you need more information or you have a question regarding Autism During Pregnancy, you can discuss it with our HearingSol healthcare professionals, just give us a call on +91-9899437202. We are always here to help you.
It has estimated that about 1 in every 100 people in the UK has ASD. More boys have diagnosed with the condition than girls.
In pregnant women, it can either cause before birth or during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. Researchers have found that there are some differences in the brain structure of autism affected children as compared to those who do not have Autism. so, be aware of the conditions which cause Autism during pregnancy.
Is There A Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism
An April 2015 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that mothers-to-be who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes by their 26th week of pregnancy are 63 percent more likely to have a child with autism. That means for every 1,000 women with gestational diabetes, seven of them may have a child with autism. Researchers speculate that in utero exposure to high blood sugar may affect a baby’s brain development and heighten the risk for developmental disorders.
Earlier studies also have shown a possible connection between high blood sugar during pregnancy and autism risk. The key factor may be how high blood sugar levels get. Interestingly, the JAMA study found that babies born to mothers who had type 2 diabetes before getting pregnant didn’t have a higher risk of autism, perhaps because the women were taking medication to control their blood sugar levels.
Gestational diabetes poses a number of problems for infants, including preterm labor, large birth-weight and an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. Moms-to-be have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, preeclampsia and type 2 diabetes, as well. “All expectant women should strive to keep their blood sugar under control, regardless of these study findings,” says Dr. Wilms Floet.
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When Can You Detect Autism
Recent studies outlines that 1 out of 68 children have now been diagnosed with ASD. While this diagnosis is increasing, children aren`t normally diagnosed by a specialist until over the age of 2. Still, there are certain signs which may show your child may experience autism as early as 6 months old.
What To Do If Youre Worried
If your child is developmentally delayed, or if youve observed other red flags for autism, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician right away. In fact, its a good idea to have your child screened by a doctor even if he or she is hitting the developmental milestones on schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive routine developmental screenings, as well as specific screenings for autism at 9, 18, and 30 months of age.
Schedule an autism screening. A number of specialized screening tools have been developed to identify children at risk for autism. Most of these screening tools are quick and straightforward, consisting of yes-or-no questions or a checklist of symptoms. Your pediatrician should also get your feedback regarding your childs behavior.
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Increase: The Baby Comes Too Early
It is hard to know for sure what will happen in utero and that can be really scary. It is believed that women who have birth complications that result in extreme prematurity and/or low birth weight can be putting their baby at risk for autism. It is also believed that multiple pregnancies can be a risk factor for autism as well. There are certain risk factors that affect the maternal fetal environment that may place that fetus at increased risk of ASD. There are some things that are just out of our control, and unfortunately you can be the healthiest person and still have a baby with a low birth weight or be pregnant with twins
Increase: The Body Isn’t At A Healthy Number
Most women do not like discussing their weight, and while pregnant most women gain at least twelve pounds. Researchers claim that going into pregnancy at an unhealthy weight as well as gaining too much weight during pregnancy can both be linked to autism. In fact, for every five pounds of extra baby weight a mama gains she increases her kiddos chance of autism by one percent. This is a very easily avoidable issue. Before trying to conceive it is always a promising idea to meet with the doc to see if your body is healthy enough for pregnancy. Starting a good eating and exercise regimen can set yourself up for an excellent lifestyle during pregnancy. Losing as much weight as recommended before pregnancy is a sure-fire way to avoid your baby becoming autistic. While pregnant, gaining weight slowly and at the recommended amount is also a good idea.