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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‘a Bit Of A Holy Grail’ In Child Health
The international research team, which included WA’s Child and Adolescent Health Service, La Trobe University, University, the University of Western Australia and the University of Manchester, was led by Telethon Kids Institute Professor Andrew Whitehouse, who described the findings as a true breakthrough moment.
“This is a bit of a holy grail in the area of child health,” Professor Whitehouse said.
“What we have found is providing a new clinical model, identifying children as early as possible in life, providing supportive intervention to help them be who they want to be, we can actually reduce the clinical criteria for autism by two-thirds.
“The potential for what this means for our society is quite staggering.
“When we think about 53 per cent of all children within the NDIS have a diagnosis of autism, we start to understand how significant this finding could be.”
Typically children are diagnosed with autism at about the age of three, which is when therapies usually start.
Professor Whitehouse said this meant nothing was happening in the first couple of years after a child’s birth when the brain was developing rapidly and therapies may have more effect.
School Services End At Age 22
The moment a person with a disability turns 22, they’re no longer covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act . School is an entitlement, meaning schools are required to provide a free and appropriate education. Adult services, however, are not entitlements. You may or may not qualify for services and, even if you are qualified, the service providers may or may not be funded.
In practice, however, anyone with a significant disability will qualify for and receive at least some adult services. To make this happen, though, you’ll need to know how the transition works in your community, what options are available in your state, and how to qualify for the services you may need.
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Early Baby Therapy Could Reduce Autism Diagnoses
Training parents how to respond to babies showing early signs of autism could reduce by two-thirds the number of three-year-olds meeting the criteria for diagnosis, a small study suggests.
Improvement on this scale has never been shown before, the UK and Australian researchers say.
The first two years are critical for brain development – but most autism diagnoses are made at the age of three.
Longer-term research on more children is needed to see if the effects last.
This study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, followed 103 nine- to 14-month-olds, in Melbourne and Perth, with early signs of autism.
Over five months, the parents of about half of them were taught to:
- interact with their baby even if there was no eye contact
- play with them in a sensitive way that helped their development
And at the age of three, while they still had developmental difficulties, their social engagement had improved, they had fewer sensory issues and repetitive behaviours and only 7% met the criteria for a diagnosis of autism.
This compared with 20% of the other children given standard care.
Prof Jonathan Green, from the University of Manchester, who designed the video-based programme used in the trial, said: “Many therapies for autism have tried previously to replace developmental differences with more ‘typical’ behaviours.
“In contrast, this works with each child’s unique differences and creates a social environment around the child that helps them learn in a way that was best for them.”
How To Recognize Reactions
Just as it’s challenging to predict the response of an autistic person, it can also be difficult to interpret autistic reactions to difficult emotions as these reactions may take different forms.
In some cases, reactions take the form of major temper tantrums, but other reactions can look very different. For example, they might take the form of:
- Screeching or other noise-making
- Bolting or eloping
- Intensive self-stimulation
- Aggression toward others
- Sensory avoidance
- Sensory seeking behavior
- Refusal to engage
- Compulsive behaviors such as touching the same objects in the same order over and over again
Some of these behaviors are actually attempts to self-calm. Others are simply physical manifestations of internal upset.
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Techniques For Calming An Upset Child
While it’s great to simply avoid getting upset, real-life can make it impossible. When that happens, these tips for calming may help:
- Recognize signs. Very often, children with autism show signs of distress before they “meltdown” or become very upset. Check to see if your child seems frustrated, angry, anxious, or just over-excited. If she can communicate effectively, she may be able to simply tell you what you need to know.
- Look for environmental issues that could be causing your child’s discomfort. If it’s easy to do so, resolve any problems. For example, close a door, turn off a light, turn down music, etc.
- Leave the space. Often, it’s possible to simply leave the situation for a period of time, allowing your child time and space to calm down. Just walk out the door with your child, staying calm and ensuring their safety.
- Have a “bag of tricks” handy to share with your child. Chewy or sensory toys, favorite books or videos can all defuse a potentially difficult situation. While it’s never ideal to use TV as a babysitter, there are situations in which a favorite video on a smartphone can be a lifesaver.
- Travel with a weighted vest or blanket. If your child does well with these calming tools, bring an extra in the car at all times. If you don’t have weighted items, you might want to consider rolling your child up in a blanket like a burrito. For some autistic children, the pressure can be very calming.
Tip : Find Help And Support
Caring for a child with ASD can demand a lot of energy and time. There may be days when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or discouraged. Parenting isnt ever easy, and raising a child with special needs is even more challenging. In order to be the best parent you can be, its essential that you take care of yourself.
Dont try to do everything on your own. You dont have to! There are many places that families of children with ASD can turn to for advice, a helping hand, advocacy, and support:
ADS support groups Joining an ASD support group is a great way to meet other families dealing with the same challenges you are. Parents can share information, get advice, and lean on each other for emotional support. Just being around others in the same boat and sharing their experience can go a long way toward reducing the isolation many parents feel after receiving a childs diagnosis.
Respite care Every parent needs a break now and again. And for parents coping with the added stress of ASD, this is especially true. In respite care, another caregiver takes over temporarily, giving you a break for a few hours, days, or even weeks.
Affordable Online Therapy for Help and Support
Get professional help from BetterHelps network of licensed therapists.
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Can Folic Acid Lower Autism Risk
A 2011 Epidemiology study found that taking prenatal vitamins three months before conception and during at least the first month of pregnancy halves a child’s autism risk. Women with a strong genetic link to the disorder who didn’t take vitamins were up to seven times more likely to have a child with autism. Additional studies suggest high levels of folic acid, a B vitamin important for brain development, are key.
All women of childbearing age should get between 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid every day. Most women get about 150 mcg of daily folic acid from fortified foods such as breads and cereal.
A 2012 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study suggests that women need at least four times that amount — 600 mcg — to lower autism risk. Check your vitamin’s nutrient label, and if necessary, discuss upping your folic acid intake with your doctor, and add more foods rich in folate to your diet.
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How Does Autism Affect Kids
Autistic children may not reach the same developmental milestones as their peers, or they may demonstrate the loss of previously developed social or language skills.
For instance, a 2-year-old without autism may show interest in simple games of make-believe. A 4-year-old without autism may enjoy engaging in activities with other children. An autistic child may have trouble interacting with others or dislike it altogether.
Autistic children may also engage in repetitive behaviors, have difficulty sleeping, or compulsively eat nonfood items. They may find it hard to thrive without a structured environment or consistent routine.
If your child is autistic, you may have to work closely with their teachers to ensure they succeed in the classroom.
Many resources are available to help autistic children as well as their loved ones. Local support groups can be found through the national nonprofit the Autism Society of America.
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Reducing Risk Of Autism During Pregnancy And Birth
Based on the research, there are several steps a birth parent can take to reduce the risk that their child will have autism. They include:
- Having children after the age of 21 and before the age of 35 and choosing a male genetic parent in the same age range
- Working with a doctor to choose safer medications for specific issues, such as epilepsy
- Avoiding activities such as smoking or being around known toxins
- Making regular prenatal visits to the doctor and following up on any potential physical issues, such as emerging gestational diabetes
- Closely following any medical advice regarding bed rest and stress avoidance
According to studies, your baby may also benefit from consistent and appropriate use of specific supplements. Taking supplements such as folate , omega-3s, and vitamin D3, correcting vitamin deficiencies, boosting your immune system, and prolonging breastfeeding are all mentioned in research findings as possible ways to reduce the risk of autism .
Increase: Starting Too Young
Getting pregnant at a young age can be a risk factor for an autistic child as well. Scientists believe that teen moms may not have access or the desire to get proper prenatal care and make the appropriate decisions when it comes to their pregnancy. Certain decisions can be detrimental and can increase the risk of ASD in unborn kiddos. Teen moms have an 18% higher chance of their baby being born with Autism while those moms in their 20s have less of a risk. There are moms who have babies in their teen years who do not have kiddos with autism, but the risk is there. Some teenage pregnancies are an accident while others are planned. The best way to avoid this issue is to wait until your 20s to conceive, but if that is not a possibility the best bet is to try to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
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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 Asperger’s 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 isn’t 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 doesn’t. That means that there must be some non-genetic factors.”
David Cox researches neuropsychiatric disorders at Cambridge University, focusing on drug discovery and diagnosis
Taking The Opposite Approach
The researchers wanted to test if they could provide therapy in those early years to better support the child’s development and reduce the likelihood or intensity of disabilities.
They worked with WA’s Child and Adolescent Health Service to identify children at risk of autism, whose siblings may have autism or who had early behavioural signs of autism.
It was a four-year clinical trial with 89 infants aged from 9-14 months. Over five months, half received the intervention and half did not.
Professor Whitehouse said most therapies or interventions for autism tried to replace or shape the developmental differences in children with more “typical” behaviours.
They took the opposite approach.
“What we wanted to do was to identify the unique behaviours of each and every baby and use those strengths as a foundation for future development,” Professor Whitehouse said.
They videotaped the parents and children playing and interacting and then gave them feedback on the unique way their child was communicating, to help the parents interact with their children.
They wanted to boost the back-and-forth communications between the parent and the child as the building blocks for brain development.
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Things That Dont Cause Autism
Everything from vaccines to vitamins has been blamed for causing autism so what do we believe? Here are four things that do not cause autism.
Everything from vaccines to vitamins has been blamed for causing autism but with all the myths flying around, how do we know what to believe?
Despite the common misconceptions, these four things that current research has shown do not cause autism.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. The term spectrum refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment that people with ASD can have.
ASD affects people in different ways and can range from mild to severe. People with ASD share some symptoms, such as difficulties with social interaction, but there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are, the number of symptoms, and whether other problems are present. The symptoms and their severity can change over time.
The behavioral signs of ASD often appear early in development. Many children show symptoms by 12 months to 18 months of age or earlier.
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Autism Employment Choices Should Be Self
Some autistic adults know exactly what kind of work they want. Others are flexible, and others have no idea. But just like everyone else, adults with autism have both the responsibility and the right to direct their own lives. Even if a person has limited verbal skills, it’s important to know that the work they are doing suits their interests, abilities, and sense of purpose.
To help determine an individual’s best career choices, school counselors and agency personnel can use tools such as vocational and aptitude tests. A student’s vision is then made part of the transition plan which, in turn, makes it easier to plan for training, internships, and vocational opportunities.
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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Helping Your Child With Autism Thrive Tip : Provide Structure And Safety
Learning all you can about autism and getting involved in treatment will go a long way toward helping your child. Additionally, the following tips will make daily home life easier for both you and your child with ASD:
Be consistent. Children with ASD have a hard time applying what theyve learned in one setting to others, including the home. For example, your child may use sign language at school to communicate, but never think to do so at home. Creating consistency in your childs environment is the best way to reinforce learning. Find out what your childs therapists are doing and continue their techniques at home. Explore the possibility of having therapy take place in more than one place in order to encourage your child to transfer what he or she has learned from one environment to another. Its also important to be consistent in the way you interact with your child and deal with challenging behaviors.
Stick to a schedule. Children with ASD tend to do best when they have a highly-structured schedule or routine. Again, this goes back to the consistency they both need and crave. Set up a schedule for your child, with regular times for meals, therapy, school, and bedtime. Try to keep disruptions to this routine to a minimum. If there is an unavoidable schedule change, prepare your child for it in advance.