The Arguments Against: Why We Shouldnt Have Screening For Autism
In recent years, large embryo banks have started screening for autism, which has opened up theinevitable debate, and strong feelings on both sides. Should we test for autism? If the test comes back positive, will parents terminate their pregnancy?
The statistics around Down Syndrome screening indicates that yes, parents will to a large extent, take the opportunity to terminate a pregnancy that shows a high risk of autism.
Studies show that when screening comes back positive for Down Syndrome, parents are choosing to terminate pregnancies in around 90% of cases.
While many parents would welcome the existence of autism screening tests, the ability to screen in such a fashion could be called eugenicist, which is any scientific or medical advances that advocate improving a populations gene pool. This sort of advancement can be considered negative by large groups in the community.
What Is Hand Flapping Autism
When a person with autism engages in self-stimulatory behaviors such as rocking, pacing, aligning or spinning objects, or hand flapping, people around him may be confused, offended, or even frightened. Also known as stimming, these behaviors are often characterized by rigid, repetitive movements and/or vocal sounds.
When Does Diagnosis Occur Now
Diagnosis for autism can occur at a variety of ages. Children as young as 12 months can show behaviours that are synonymous with the disorder .
Usually children with autism will have missed certain developmental milestones by the time they are 18 months to 24 months old .
People on the high functioning end of the spectrum may not be confirmed as autistic until later in childhood, in their teens, or even into adulthood. Some may never be diagnosed.
For a checklist to help with diagnosis in young children see:
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How Can You Prevent Autism In Babies
While you cant prevent having a child with an autistic disorder, you can increase your odds of having a healthy baby by doing these lifestyle changes: Live healthy. Have regular check-ups, eat well-balanced meals, and exercise. Make sure you have good prenatal care, and take all recommended vitamins and supplements.
There Currently Arent Screening Tests In Either Pregnant Women Or Through Ivf That Can Test For Autism At This Time
Autism cant be diagnosed in the womb or embryos yet because experts dont know exactly what causes it. It is a genetic condition, but there are many different combinations of genes that may result in a diagnosis of ASD.
Environmental factors may also play a part. It is not something specific that shows up in the mothers blood or the foetus cells, it is usually only characterised by early behaviour.
Experts and opponents consider that it will only be a matter of time, however.
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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.”
Why Autism Begins Before Birth: The Contributing Factors
Researchers have cited gene mutations and environmental factors to be jointly responsible for advent of autism in the womb. Abnormal gene activities lead to excessive number of brain cell formation in the brain’s pre-frontal cortex. This is located right behind the forehead. This, according to experts, damages the normal emotional, communication and social function skills of brain, leading to autism.
Environmental factors like excessive exposure to pollution and radioactive and toxic chemicals can also cause abnormalities in brain development, say experts. Highlighting late complications in pregnancy to be responsible for autism to begin in the womb, they pointed out that infants exposed to high maternal blood pressure during pregnancy and lack of adequate oxygen at birth or any other delivery related challenges are at higher risk to develop autism even before birth.
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Supplements And Asd Investigated
The current research team was headed up by Stephen Z. Levine, Ph.D., of the University of Haifa, Israel. Data were taken from 45,300 Israeli children born 20032007 who were followed up until 2015.
The scientists gathered information about any prescription supplements taken by the mothers before pregnancy and during pregnancy .
Of the 45,300 children born to 26,702 mothers, 572 were diagnosed with ASD.
The authors concluded that there was a decreased risk of the offspring developing ASD if the mothers took folic acid, multivitamin supplements, or both either before pregnancy, during pregnancy, or both before and during.
To reiterate, supplements taken before pregnancy began, during pregnancy, or both before and during appeared to reduce the risk of ASD in the offspring.
This positive effect remained significant after a range of confounding variables were accounted for. The protective effect was measured in both male and female offspring, but the authors note that the low number of ASD diagnoses in females makes this conclusion less firm.
Among the children of women with psychiatric conditions, the risk of ASD did not diminish with supplementation, although, again, the sample size was relatively small.
Additionally, information regarding supplement use came from prescription records. It is therefore possible that some mothers bought over-the-counter supplements, which would not have been included in the analysis.
What Do The Experts Say
Professor Andrew Whitehead, an authority on childhood health research had this to say:
It is without question that a persons life would be improved if they were free from intellectual disability, if they had the facility to communicate more freely, and if they had the capacity to live independently.
To want a person to live without disability does not diminish in any way our love for people in these circumstances, nor their irreplaceable importance in our lives.
Only a minority of our community know the challenges of raising a child with significant disability. It is just plain wrong for people who have never been in this position to judge the wants and desires of those who have.
People and families with autism, as well as medical experts, would need to be involved in decisions around whether screening for ASD is a good idea or has negative genetic consequences.
We cant screen for it yet, but the consensus is that science will soon be able to find a way, and the problem will move from whether or not we can to whether or we should.
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Genetic Defects Occurred In Focal Patches Of Brain Tissue
Building a babys brain during pregnancy involves creating a cortex that contains six layers, says researcher Eric Courchesne, PhD. He continues:
We discovered focal patches of disrupted development of these cortical layers in the majority of children with autism. This defect indicates that the crucial early developmental step of creating six distinct layers with specific types of brain cells something that begins in prenatal life had been disrupted.
But equally as important as the evidence of developmental disruption in children with autism, the team believes, is that these defects appeared in focal patches, particularly around the frontal and temporal cortex. This suggests that this defect does not apply equally to all areas of the brain and may explain why different functional systems are affected in people who have autism.
The fact that we were able to find these patches is remarkable, given that the cortex is roughly the size of the surface of a basketball, and we only examined pieces of tissue the size of a pencil eraser, says researcher Ed S. Lein, PhD, of the Allen Institute for Brain Science. This suggests that these abnormalities are quite pervasive across the surface of the cortex.
The finding that these defects occur in patches rather than across the entirety of cortex gives hope as well as insight about the nature of autism, adds Dr. Courchesne.
Are We Ready For A Prenatal Screening Test For Autism
Autism was formally described for the first time 71 years ago. The medical notes for Case one, a 10-year-old from Mississippi, US, referred to as Donald T, describe a perplexing condition that was different from anything reported so far. In 1943, when Donald Triplett was diagnosed, autism was considered extremely rare and treatment consisted of institutionalisation and all too often isolation.
Today we know autism disorder as one of a number of autism spectrum disorders alongside Aspergers syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder and single gene disorders such as Rett syndrome. But of all neuropsychiatric conditions, autism remains one of the least understood.
We now know that genetics almost certainly plays a key role, with researchers finding that if a family has one child with autism, then the likelihood of a future child having the condition is as high as 25%. But to what extent autism is defined by genes remains a mystery.
Everyone recognises that genes are part of the story but autism isnt 100% genetic, says Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. Even if you have identical twins who share all their genes, you can find that one has autism and one doesnt. That means that there must be some non-genetic factors.
David Cox researches neuropsychiatric disorders at Cambridge University, focusing on drug discovery and diagnosis
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Maintaining A Nutritious Diet
Pregnant women can lower the risk for autism by eating a colorful, organic diet rich in green vegetables and fruits containing antioxidants. At least 80 grams of protein per day from lean sources like turkey, chicken, and nuts is recommended. Many health experts support reducing white foods, including bread and sugar. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggest soon-to-be mothers take 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid. Increasing intake of Vitamin D has been linked to better neurological development in fetuses. Pregnant women should also drink eight glasses of filtered water, limit mercury levels from fish, and increase omega-3s. A modest weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy is optimal.
Avoid Any Chemical Exposure During Pregnancy
Chemicals like drugs, serotonin, alcohols and seizure medicines like valproic acid contain the potential cause of Autism. So, try avoiding the use of these chemicals during pregnancy unless your doctor specially prescribes them. The valproic acid is for the treatment of convulsions, seizures, migraine headache, and bipolar disorder so, avoid these drugs during pregnancy if you have any of the above disorder.
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Being Able To Screen For Autism Is Problematic For A Number Of Reasons
Firstly, autism is a spectrum, and the question arises, at what point on the spectrum is considered the point where you would terminate the pregnancy? If testing only showed that your child was likely to be on the autistic spectrum, but if later you found out it was at the very high functioning end, would or should you not terminate?
What happens when we remove autistic people from the world? While parents and teachers raising children with autism might see some relief in the daily difficulties of this, people with autism are individuals with worth, personality and love who have a place to play in the world.
Some people with autism may have had the most incredible impact on science, art and society, including possibly Einstein, Mozart, Michelangelo, Darwin, Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson, Andy Warhol and Stanley Kubrick.
More significant in recent times, it is speculated that both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates could be identified as on the autism spectrum. While these are speculative guesses only, it is without a doubt that autistic people have lived and positively affected others lives throughout time.
Changing Lifestyle To Prevent Autism
A healthcare professional will not be able to tell whether your child will be autistic or not. So, is there nothing to prevent Autism? Well, its true that you couldnt stop autism but can try adopting healthy habits to reduce its chances to occur. You can adopt a healthy lifestyle to prevent autism and some of them are,
1) Eat healthily, live healthily
Schedule your diet with well-balanced meals with lots of protein, vitamins, and fiber during pregnancy. Have regular check-ups and exercise along with prescribed supplements. This will help you to keep track of your own body as well as the child body. Each and every healthy habit adopted by the mother during pregnancy will eventually result in the childs brain development.
2) Reduce exposure to Air pollution
Air pollution doubles the risk of Autism in the child within the trimester of pregnancy which is concluded by the Harvard school of public health. So, the less exposure to air pollution or staying at home in the polluted area will help to prevent Autism.
3) Regular intake of Folic acid
Every pregnant woman is recommended to consume 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid per day with the doctors prescription. The researchers believe that women consuming less folic acid can lead their child developing Autism symptoms when born.
4) Follow family planning
5) Avoid Alcohol During Pregnancy
6) Stress and anxiety involve the potential risk of Autism
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What Is The Biggest Risk Factor For Autism
Risk factors Your childs sex. Boys are about four times more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder than girls are. Family history. Families who have one child with autism spectrum disorder have an increased risk of having another child with the disorder. Other disorders. Extremely preterm babies. Parents ages.
Can Autism Go Away
Summary: Research in the past several years has shown that children can outgrow a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder , once considered a lifelong condition. In a new study, researchers have found that the vast majority of such children still have difficulties that require therapeutic and educational support.
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Prepare For Pregnancy Through Wise Nutrition
In the past, women were encouraged to “eat for two” during pregnancy however, now this is held to be detrimental to the health of both mother and child. Autism Research Institute recommends a woman should spend up to a year preparing for pregnancy. It endorses important dietary and lifestyle choices to ensure she is at her optimal fitness level when she conceives. Among these choices are organically grown vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and lean proteins.
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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Exposure To Radiations Is A Big No
Radiation exposure during pregnancy tops the list of causes of autism in womb. Electromagnetic pollution from electrical appliances and gadgets at home and workplace can inflict great damage to your infants brain. So, have a check on the use of electronic and wireless devices during pregnancy to keep your childs brain cells intact.
Avoid All Forms Of Toxic Chemicals
Maternal exposure to toxic chemicals like traffic related pollutants, certain metals, pesticides and phthalates during pregnancy increases the risk of autism in the womb. Consult your doctor and get a list of toxic chemicals you need to stay away from. You may also have to limit your intake of canned foods and avoid water bottles made of plastic or aluminum. Also say not to cosmetics and other personal care products containing chemicals.
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Autism Begins In The Womb According To A New Study
A new study claims to show for the first time that autism begins in the womb, while another examines possible environmental influences on autism development.
The origins of autism have been passionately debated by many scientists and commentators. What is known about autism is that it is a physical condition, which is linked to abnormal biology and brain chemistry.
Genes seem to play an important part in the development of autism identical twins, for instance, are much more likely to both have autism than non-identical siblings. But there has not been any clear consensus in medical opinion about what other contributing causes there may be.
Some things that have been suspected as being linked to autism but which have not been proven include diet, changes in the digestive tract, mercury poisoning, problems with the body processing vitamins and minerals, and vaccines.
A recent, large study in the journal PLoS Computational Biology suggests that environmental pollution could be a contributing factor to autism risk, but the study was unable to name any specific toxins that might be responsible.
That study assessed 100 million US health insurance claims to look at rates of autism on a county-by-county basis. It also used genital malformations in boys micropenis, undescended testicles and cases where the urethral opening is on the underside of the penis as indicators of environmental pollution.