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If you were prescribed an SSRI medication during pregnancy and your baby suffered from any of the associated birth defects, contact an experienced attorney today to discuss your legal rights. Pharmaceutical companies have a legal and ethical obligation to develop safe and effective products that have been properly tested. When a company markets a dangerous drug without adequately warning the public, they must be held liable for any injuries that it causes.
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Diagnosis Of Autism: What We Do Know
Autistic children benefit from early diagnosis, preferably in the first two years of life. Early diagnosis allows behavioral therapy or other treatments to begin early when it seems to be most effective. If you are concerned about your child, talk to your doctor about a referral to see a specialist who can help determine if follow-up is needed. Signs of autism may include symptoms such as:
- no babbling or pointing by age 1
- no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
- no response to name
- loss of language or social skills
- poor eye contact
What Is Joint Attention
Problems with joint attention are one of the most early and common signs of ASD. Joint attention is when your child looks back and forth between an object and a person. When a child does this to share interest and interact with another person, he develops skills that help him connect with other people. Most children with ASD have delays in joint attention skills, or they dont have any joint attention skills.
These are examples of how children with ASD may show different joint attention skills:
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How Is Asd Diagnosed
ASD symptoms can vary greatly from person to person depending on the severity of the disorder. Symptoms may even go unrecognized for young children who have mild ASD or less debilitating handicaps.
Autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed by clinicians based on symptoms, signs, and testing according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders. Children should be screened for developmental delays during periodic checkups and specifically for autism at 18- and 24-month well-child visits.
Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:
- no babbling or pointing by age 1
- no single words by age 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
- no response to name
- excessive lining up of toys or objects
- no smiling or social responsiveness
Later indicators include:
- impaired ability to make friends with peers
- impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
- absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
- repetitive or unusual use of language
- abnormally intense or focused interest
- preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
- inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals
Children Exposed To Complications At Birth At Risk Of Autism Study Finds
- Kaiser Permanente
- Children who were exposed to complications shortly before or during birth, including birth asphyxia and preeclampsia, were more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder, according to a study.
Children who were exposed to complications shortly before or during birth, including birth asphyxia and preeclampsia, were more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published in the American Journal of Perinatology.
For this retrospective study, researchers examined the electronic health records of 594,638 children born in Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California between 1991 and 2009. During this time, 6,255 of these children were diagnosed with ASD, 37 percent of whom experienced perinatal complications. Researchers found that children exposed to complications during birth were at a 10 percent increased risk of developing ASD, compared to children who did not experience perinatal complications.
That number rose to a 22 percent increased risk of developing ASD for children exposed to complications before labor began. The study also showed that children exposed to complications both before and during birth had a 44 percent greater risk of developing ASD than children who did not experience perinatal complications.
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How Are Birth Defects Diagnosed In A Child
Many birth defects can be diagnosed before birth with tests. Chromosome problems such as Down syndrome can be diagnosed before birth by looking at cells in the amniotic fluid or from the placenta. Or they can be found by looking at the babys DNA in the mothers blood . These tests are very accurate.
Fetal ultrasound during pregnancy can also show the possibility of certain birth defects. But ultrasound is not 100% accurate. Some babies with birth defects may look the same on ultrasound as those without problems.
Tests that can be done while a baby is in the uterus include the following.
Identification Of Candidate Asd Risk Genes
Following the classification of autism by Kanner, research efforts were undertaken to determine the disease etiology. Though it was initially assumed to be of environmental origin, an improved understanding of the role of genetics in human health soon suggested otherwise. In 1977, Folstein and Rutter conducted twin studies upon the observation that incidence among siblings was 50× higher than average. They found that monozygotic twins were more likely to share a diagnosis than dizygotic twins, suggesting a genetic influence. Bailey et al. supported this finding, documenting 60% concordance for monozygotic twins versus no concordant dizygotic pairs. In addition, risk of a child having ASD was found to be proportional to the percentage of the genome they shared with an affected sibling or parent . By the turn of the century, ASD was established to have some genetic component, though which genes were involved remained a mystery.
Somatic Mosaicism and ASD Risk
CNVs Contribute to ASD Susceptibility
Epigenetic Regulation and ASD
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How Plastics Cause Autism Diabetes Cancer Birth Defects
Chukwuma Muanya, Assistant Editor
KILLER PLASTICS The invisible chemical cause neurological and behavioral disorders like autism and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder . They also affect IQ. And they manipulate hormones in a way that can cause cancer, diabetes, male infertility, and endometriosis. PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.viewzone.com/plastic-header.jpg
*Paternal ageing linked to neurodevelopmental disorders
Recent studies have associated the rise in autism, diabetes, cancer and birth defects to increase in the use of plastics in making everyday containers, toys and baby teethers or pacifiers.
A new study warned that the most popular teething rings contain hormone-disrupting chemicals, which are banned from use in products for children.
However, no studies have ever tested plastic teethers for the presence of toxins commonly found in plastic that have been linked to increased risk of cancer, heart disease and obesity.
Now a study by the American Chemical Society warns that 100 percent of pacifiers tested contained Bisphenol A , Bisphenol S or Bisephenol F so-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Most also contained parabens, and antimicrobials such as triclosan and triclocarban.
And they manipulate hormones in a way that can cause cancer, diabetes, male infertility, and endometriosis.
The study also showed that the compounds leached out of the products surfaces into water.
Cdc Study Links Ssri Use During Pregnancy To Increased Birth
A 2015 study by the CDC published in the British Medical Journal found that birth defects occur 2 to 3.5 times more frequently among newborns of women treated with Paxil and Prozac early in pregnancy.
It did not find similar results for women treated with Zoloft. The study analyzed 17,952 mothers of infants with birth defects and 9,857 mothers of infants without birth defects.
The CDC study reassessed 12 years of data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, one of the largest collaborative case-control studies focused on factors that increase birth defects.
Using statistical analysis, researchers analyzed pregnant women taking SSRIs between 1997 and 2009 at 10 sites in the U.S., comparing women who had a baby with a birth defect to those who did not.
Researchers confirmed links between Prozac and two types of birth defects. They also confirmed links between Paxil and five types of birth defects.
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How Can I Help My Child Live With A Birth Defect
If your baby is born with a birth defect, you can do certain things to take care of yourself and your baby:
Keep all appointments with your babys healthcare provider.
Talk with your healthcare provider about other providers who will be included in your childs care. Your child may receive care from a multidisciplinary team. This team may include counselors, social workers, clergy, genetic counselors, dietitians, physical therapists, and speech therapists. Your childs care team will depend on your babys condition.
Think about having genetic testing and counseling to understand your risk.
Tell others of your babys condition. Work with your childs healthcare provider to create a treatment plan.
Ask for support from local community services. This may include your faith community and organizations that specialize in birth defects, such as the March of Dimes.
Dangers Of Discontinuing Antidepressants During Pregnancy
Anyone taking SSRIs or other antidepressants should never stop taking the drugs abruptly. This can result in serious withdrawal symptoms and side effects that include severe depression and increased risk of suicide.
Patients who wish to stop taking antidepressants should always talk to their doctor about the safest way to gradually lower the dosage over days or even weeks.
Even switching from one antidepressant to another can cause complications and should be carried out cautiously under the close observation of a doctor.
Other complications of stopping antidepressant use can include flu-like symptoms, sleep problems, anxiety, irritability, headache, stomach cramps and dizziness.
In a 2006 study, 68 percent of women who discontinued use of SSRIs experienced a relapse of major depression, compared to 26 percent of pregnant women who maintained their medication throughout their pregnancy.
Pregnant women stopping antidepressant therapy may experience thoughts of terminating a previously desired pregnancy.
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant and use SSRIs, it is important to consult with your doctor to understand and carefully weigh the benefits against the potential risks of the medications.
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What Doesnt Cause Autism
There was a bleak period in history from the 1950s to 1970s when autism was believed to be a psychological disorder, and blamed on cold, uncaring parents, usually the mothers.
Fortunately, the myth of the ârefrigerator motherâ has been debunked by science, and autism is now recognised as a disorder of brain development with genetic links. Nothing you said or did as a parent caused your child to develop autism, so please donât listen to anyone who suggests otherwise.
Scores of scientific studies have effectively ruled out vaccines as a cause of autism. Concerns originally arose around two issues of Mercury and the MMR Vaccine
In 2014, a meta-analysis, combining the result of 10 studies and over 1.2 million children, found no link between vaccines and autism. The World Health Organization, the European Medicines Agency, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading international health groups have also concluded thereâs no link. Unfortunately, the belief persists among anti-vaccination campaigners, who are very vocal on the Internet. If you remain concerned about vaccines, arrange a time to talk your paediatrician or GP. Remember, Vaccines Save Lives!
Autisms Genetic Risk Factors
Research tells us that autism tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child will develop autism. If a parent carries one or more of these gene changes, they may get passed to a child . Other times, these genetic changes arise spontaneously in an early embryo or the sperm and/or egg that combine to create the embryo. Again, the majority of these gene changes do not cause autism by themselves. They simply increase risk for the disorder
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What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning.
The term spectrum refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability in functioning that can occur in people with ASD. Some children and adults with ASD are fully able to perform all activities of daily living while others require substantial support to perform basic activities. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders includes Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified as part of ASD rather than as separate disorders. A diagnosis of ASD includes an assessment of intellectual disability and language impairment.
ASD occurs in every racial and ethnic group, and across all socioeconomic levels. However, boys are significantly more likely to develop ASD than girls. The latest analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children has ASD.
Ssris And Birth Defects
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that between 14 and 23 percent of pregnant women struggle with some symptoms of depression. Untreated depression in pregnant women can pose serious risks for their babies. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can be used to treat depression in pregnant women. However, SSRIs may increase the risk of heart, abdominal, respiratory and other birth defects.
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that SSRIs account for more than 84 percent of antidepressants prescribed to pregnant women. SSRIs work by preventing receptors in the brain from reabsorbing already released serotonin, a neurotransmitter thought to be a contributor to feelings of happiness and well-being.
Paxil , Zoloft and Prozac are among the most common SSRI antidepressants prescribed to pregnant women to treat depression or anxiety disorders. Studies suggest women who take SSRIs while pregnant are at higher risk of having a baby born with several types of physical birth defects as well as autism or developmental disorders.
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How Are Birth Defects Treated In A Child
There is no cure for birth defects. But children can often be treated to help reduce problems. Treatment will depend on your childs symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Children may benefit from surgery, medicines, physical or occupational therapy, education intervention, and other types of help. Talk with your childs healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all treatments.
Can Autism Be Caused By Birth Trauma
Expectant parents have natural concerns about the possibility of birth defects. The celebration of the birth of a child may be disrupted by a range of difficult considerations and decisions that have to be made if a birth injury occurs. In these situations, knowing whether a birth injury may have been caused by a doctors negligence can help parents decide the next steps.
Autism is a developmental disorder that may be linked to birth injuries. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , children with autism spectrum disorder can experience behavioral, communication, and social challenges.
If a child sustains a birth injury, it may lead to autism. Although researchers are still looking at the possibility that autism could be caused by birth trauma, parents should be aware of the potential connection.
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Examining The Causes Of Autism
Autism is a broad, complex, and increasingly important brain disorder. New data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that one in sixty-eight children is born with some degree of autism. Autism is also more common in males by a four to one ratio. Making it especially difficult to discuss in finite, conclusive terms is the fact that there is no biological test for autism diagnosis is based on behavior, and the only verified treatment is intensive behavior therapy. Our author, one of the nations foremost researchers on autism, examines the prenatal factors that contribute to the disorder.
Illustration by William Hogan
As an autism researcher, I often try to put myself in the shoes of parents who have just been told that their child has autism. More and more families in the United States and around the world are facing this difficult news. The families that Ive seen go through this often respond emotionally at first. Some go through denial others are sad or furious. But emotions soon give way to questions. What caused my childs autism? Was I to blame? Which treatments will help? And what does the future hold?
What Causes Autism And Why Are More And More Kids Being Diagnosed With It
Does a friend or family member have a child with autism? Autism rates seem to be skyrocketing. Among children who are 8 years old, autism has nearly doubled from 1 in 150 to 1 in 68 for children born in 2002.
Autism is part of a larger group of related conditions, called autism spectrum disorders , all of which usually involve delayed verbal communication and difficulties in social interactions. Studies suggest that children with autism tend to have other problems with how their brain functions, with as many as 20-30% developing seizures or epilepsy.
Behavior And Communication Approaches
According to reports by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Research Council, behavior and communication approaches that help children with ASD are those that provide structure, direction, and organization for the child in addition to family participation .
Applied Behavior Analysis A notable treatment approach for people with ASD is called applied behavior analysis . ABA has become widely accepted among healthcare professionals and used in many schools and treatment clinics. ABA encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors to improve a variety of skills. The childs progress is tracked and measured.
There are different types of ABA. Here are some examples:
- Discrete Trial Training DTT is a style of teaching that uses a series of trials to teach each step of a desired behavior or response. Lessons are broken down into their simplest parts, and positive reinforcement is used to reward correct answers and behaviors. Incorrect answers are ignored.
- Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention This is a type of ABA for very young children with ASD, usually younger than 5 and often younger than 3. EIBI uses a highly structured teaching approach to build positive behaviors and reduce unwanted behaviors . EIBI takes place in a one-on-one adult-to-child environment under the supervision of a trained professional.
- Early Start Denver Model
There are other therapies that can be part of a complete treatment program for a child with ASD: