Monday, June 27, 2022

What Causes Autism In Babies

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Some People Use Other Names For Autism

Understanding Autism Part 1: What Causes Autism?

There are other names for autism used by some people, such as:

  • autism spectrum disorder the medical name for autism
  • autism spectrum condition used instead of ASD by some people
  • Asperger’s used by some people to describe autistic people with average or above average intelligence

Unlike some people with autism, people with Asperger’s do not have a learning disability.

Some people call this “high-functioning” autism.

Doctors do not diagnose people with Asperger’s anymore.

But if you were diagnosed with it before, this will stay as your diagnosis.

Studies Show High Levels Of Toxic Metals In Baby Food

A grim report released by the government earlier this year, titled Baby Foods are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury, warns parents and families of the dangers of heavy metals in baby food sold by some of the biggest and most well-known brands, including

Beech-Nut

Plum Organics

Gerber

Earths Best Organic

Happy Family Organics and HappyBABY

Sprout Organic Foods

Parents Choice

How Do You Know If Your Child Has Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASD can be hard to diagnose. Theres no medical test, like a blood test, to check for ASD. No two children with ASD have the exact same signs or symptoms. Providers diagnose ASD by looking at your childs behavior and development.

Children with ASD usually show signs or symptoms when theyre 12 to 24 months old, but some may have them earlier or later. Some children with ASD develop normally until theyre around 18 to 24 months old, but then they stop gaining new skills or lose the skills they once had. This is called regression.

Babies may show signs of ASD before their first birthday if they have severe developmental delays. Developmental delays are when your child doesnt reach developmental milestones when expected. A developmental milestone is a skill or activity that most children can do at a certain age. Milestones include sitting, walking, talking, having social skills and having thinking skills.

Tell your babys health care provider if she isnt meeting her milestones. Its not unusual for a healthy baby to fall behind in some areas or move ahead in others. But babies who dont meet these milestones need their development checked more closely by a provider:

  • Babbling by 12 months
  • Making gestures by 12 months
  • Using single words by 16 months
  • Using two-word phrases by 24 months
  • Losing language or social skills at any age

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Prenatal Factors That May Contribute To Autism

Taking antidepressants during pregnancy, especially in the first 3 months.

Nutritional deficiencies early in pregnancy, particularly not getting enough folic acid.

The age of the mother and father

Complications at or shortly after birth, including very low birth weight and neonatal anemia

Maternal infections during pregnancy.

Exposure to chemical pollutants, such as metals and pesticides, while pregnant.

More research on these prenatal risk factors is needed, but if youre pregnant or trying to conceive, it cant hurt to take steps now to reduce your babys risk of autism.

Reducing the risk of autism: Tips for expectant mothers

Take a multivitamin. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Its not clear whether this will also help reduce risk of autism, but taking the vitamins cant hurt.

Ask about SSRIs. Women who are taking an SSRI should talk with a clinician about all the risks and benefits of these drugs. Untreated depression in a mother can also affect her childs well-being later on, so this is not a simple decision to make.

Practice prenatal care. Eating nutritious food, trying to avoid infections, and seeing a clinician for regular check-ups can increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy child.

Source: Harvard Health Publications

Social Communication And Interaction Skills

Keyfindings: Using Diagnostic Intruments

Social communication and interaction skills can be challenging for people with ASD.

Examples of social communication and social interaction characteristics related to ASD can include:

  • Avoids or does not keep eye contact
  • Does not respond to name by 9 months of age
  • Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age
  • Does not play simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age
  • Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age
  • Does not share interests with others
  • Does not point or look at what you point to by 18 months of age
  • Does not notice when others are hurt or sad by 24 months of age
  • Does not pretend in play
  • Shows little interest in peers
  • Has trouble understanding other peoples feelings or talking about own feelings at 36 months of age or older
  • Does not play games with turn taking by 60 months of age

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Large Head Size Is A Red Flag

Recent findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that the brains of children with autism develop differently from an early age. Researchers discovered that most infants who were later diagnosed with autism had small head circumferences at birth but had heads and brains much larger than normal by 6 to 14 months. “Some of them went all the way up to the 90th percentile in just a few months,” says study coauthor Natacha Akshoomoff, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. Those who ended up with the most severe form of autism were found to have the most dramatic acceleration of brain growth during infancy.

Pediatricians don’t always measure head circumference at well-baby visits, so it’s wise to request it. However, don’t panic if your baby’s head size is above the norm. Some babies just have big heads. “Rapid head growth is not a way to diagnose autism,” Dr. Akshoomoff points out, “but it means that a child should be watched closely to be sure that she meets speech and behavioral milestones.”

Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Babies And Toddlers

If autism is caught in infancy, treatment can take full advantage of the young brains remarkable plasticity. Although autism is hard to diagnose before 24 months, symptoms often surface between 12 and 18 months. If signs are detected by 18 months of age, intensive treatment may help to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.

The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of typical behaviorsnot the presence of atypical onesso they can be tough to spot. In some cases, the earliest symptoms of autism are even misinterpreted as signs of a good baby, since the infant may seem quiet, independent, and undemanding. However, you can catch warning signs early if you know what to look for.

Some autistic infants dont respond to cuddling, reach out to be picked up, or look at their mothers when being fed.

Also Check: Can Autism Be Passed Down

What Prenatal Factors Increase The Risk Of Autism

Taking the medications thalidomide or valproic acid during pregnancy can raise the risk of autism, according to the CDC. There is some research that antidepressant use during pregnancy increases the risk of autism, but that research is not yet definitive.

Other elements linked to a higher likelihood of developing autism include having an infection, autoimmune disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure during pregnancy. This may be due to the manner in which inflammation and the immune response influence the developing fetus. There also seem to be correlations between autism risk and pregnancies that are less than a year apart.

Some evidence indicates taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid, vitamin B-9, and vitamin D may offer some protection and reduce the likelihood of autism.

Brain Development And Autism

What Causes Autism in Children

The brain develops differently in autistic children compared with typically developing children.

In young children, the brain is developing all the time. Every time a child does something or responds to something, connections in the brain are reinforced and become stronger.

Over time, the connections that arent reinforced disappear theyre pruned away as theyre not needed. This pruning is how the brain makes room for important connections those needed for everyday actions and responses, like walking, talking or understanding emotions.

In autistic children, the brain tends to grow faster than average during early childhood, especially during the first three years of life. The brains of autistic babies appear to have more cells than they need, as well as poor connections between the cells.

Also, pruning doesnt seem to happen as much in autistic children. This means that information might be lost or sent through the wrong connections. The lack of pruning might also explain why the brain seems to be growing faster in autistic children than in typically developing children.

Its not yet clear what causes this difference in brain development.

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Incorrect Theories About The Causes Of Autism

While we don’t know exactly why most autistic people are autistic, we do know that at least some of the theories are flat out wrong. Here is the truth about some of the theories that we know to be incorrect.

  • You can’t catch autism: Some people are nervous about allowing their children to come into contact with autistic peers out of anxiety over contagion. But autism is not an infectious disease it can’t be passed from person to person through a virus, a bacteria, or any other means . Even if your child is constantly in contact with a child on the autism spectrum, he or she cannot “catch” autism. You may notice a typically developing child copying the mannerisms of an autistic peer, but no one can become autistic as a result of physical proximity.
  • Poor nutrition doesn’t cause autism: Many parents have put their children with autism on gluten and casein-free diets . That does not mean that they “caused” their children’s autism by feeding them wheat or dairy . Research suggests that some children with autism have gastrointestinal issues that can cause discomfort, and removing the cause of that discomfort is very likely to improve behavior, attentiveness, and mood. Thus, while a change in diet may improve autistic symptoms, poor nutrition doesn’t cause autism.
  • Early Signs Of Autism In Babies

    Learn about the signs and symptoms of autism in babies from 0 to 12 months.

    Watching your baby grow is an unforgettable experience. But while every child develops at her own level, failing to reach certain milestones could raise red flags. Some parents recognize signs of autism spectrum disorder when their baby is around 6-12 months and maybe even earlier, says Thomas Frazier, PhD, a clinical psychologist, autism researcher, and chief science officer of Autism Speaks. Here are the early signs of autism in babies, and why prompt diagnosis is key to treating the condition.

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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

    What Are The Signs Of Asd In Babies

    The Biggest Misconceptions About Autism Spectrum Disorder

    Diagnosing ASD is challenging. One reason for this is that the condition presents differently in all individuals.

    Babies can reach developmental milestones at slightly different ages, even when they do not have any health conditions. However, some developmental differences indicate that a baby may be autistic. These include:

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    Autism Diagnosis: Speech Problems

    During developmental screening, a doctor will observe how the baby reacts to the parent’s voice, smile, and other stimuli and may ask a few questions about the child’s reactions. The Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scale may also be used to evaluate a child’s communication level and help decide if seeking professional care is necessary. Other tests that determine hearing, speech development, and behaviors may be completed to help distinguish autism from other developmental problems.

    What Are The Different Types Of Autism

    The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition is published by the American Psychiatric Association . Clinicians use it to diagnose a variety of psychiatric disorders.

    The most recent fifth edition of the DSM was released in 2013. The DSM-5 currently recognizes five different ASD subtypes, or specifiers. They are:

    • with or without accompanying intellectual impairment
    • with or without accompanying language impairment
    • associated with a known medical or genetic condition or environmental factor
    • associated with another neurodevelopmental, mental, or behavioral disorder

    Someone can receive a diagnosis of one or more specifiers.

    Before the DSM-5, autistic people may have received a diagnosis of:

    Its important to note that a person who received one of these earlier diagnoses hasnt lost their diagnosis and wont need to be reevaluated.

    Symptoms of ASD typically become clearly evident during early childhood, between 12 and 24 months of age. However, symptoms may also appear earlier or later.

    Early symptoms may include a marked delay in language or social development.

    The DSM-5 divides symptoms of ASD into two categories: problems with communication and social interaction, and restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior or activities.

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    Restricted Or Repetitive Behaviors Or Interests

    People with ASD have behaviors or interests that can seem unusual. These behaviors or interests set ASD apart from conditions defined by only problems with social communication and interaction.

    Examples of restricted or repetitive interests and behaviors related to ASD can include:

    • Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed
    • Repeats words or phrases over and over
    • Plays with toys the same way every time
    • Is focused on parts of objects
    • Gets upset by minor changes
    • Has obsessive interests
    • Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles
    • Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

    Whats The Outlook For Autistic Children

    What Causes Autism?

    Autism is a spectrum of neurological differences that develop during childhood.

    Although there is not a cure for autism, many in the autism community believe these neurological differences dont need to be cured. Theyre just a different way of communicating and interacting with the world.

    Decades of research have shown that early intervention can have a powerful effect on health outcomes for autistic children. When therapies begin in early childhood, autistic children benefit from the incredible adaptability of their growing brain and nervous system.

    Some signs of autism can appear during infancy, such as:

    • limited eye contact

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    They Dont Point Or Gesture

    When children are young, they tend to point at objects or make other gestures to indicate interest. A child with autism spectrum disorder wont point at things they notice, or wont show any interest in objects that are pointed out to them.

    The earlier autism can be detected, the better, as younger brains are more adaptable, and intensive therapy early on can make an impact on development.

    Not every child will show the same symptoms, so its best to get screened by a professional if you think your child may have autism spectrum disorder.

    Signs Of Autism In Babys Second Year

    As some autistic children reach age 2, they may regress or lose language skills. Others may simply have no words by 16 months or no two-word phrases by 2 years of age. Children may only speak the same words repeatedly or they may repeat what they hear verbatim. Other signs of autism are organizing toys in certain ways, as opposed to playing with them. They may also refrain from engaging in make-believe play or engaging with other children. Two-year-olds with autism may also be unable to recognize other people’s feelings or facial expressions.

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    Do Symptoms Of Autism Change Over Time

    For many children, symptoms improve with age and behavioral treatment. During adolescence, some children with ASD may become depressed or experience behavioral problems, and their treatment may need some modification as they transition to adulthood. People with ASD usually continue to need services and supports as they get older, but depending on severity of the disorder, people with ASD may be able to work successfully and live independently or within a supportive environment.

    They Struggle To Communicate

    " I know what causes autism."

    A child with autism spectrum disorder can show a significantly reduced variety of sounds, words and gestures when they try to communicate.

    When theyre struggling with something, they may not call out for assistance as other toddlers tend to do.

    Toddlers with autism may not play with others or show interest or enjoyment in what theyre doing. If you notice your toddler consistently doesnt seek out social interactions with you or other children, it may be worth discussing with your doctor.

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    What Causes Autism: 6 Facts You Need To Know

    There are lots of frightening rumors about what causes autism, a mysterious brain disorder, in children. We asked leading experts across the country to get you answers.

    Nancy Wiseman had a feeling early on that something wasn’t quite right with her daughter. When Sarah was 6 months old, she stopped babbling, and by 10 months, she was silent. By 18 months, the increasingly aloof toddler no longer responded to her name, and she resisted being held, kissed, or touched. “I felt that I was losing my child a little more each day,” says Wiseman, of Merrimac, Massachusetts. When Sarah wasn’t saying any words or even making sounds that resembled words by 20 months, her grandmother, a school psychologist, suspected that the girl might actually be deaf. Instead, Wiseman was devastated to learn that her daughter had autism. “The diagnosis really knocked the wind out of me,” she recalls, “but I was relieved to finally know what was wrong.”

    There are many unanswered questions,” says Alice Kau, Ph.D., an autism expert at the National Institutes of Health, which funded more than $74 million in autism research in 2002, as compared with only $22 million in 1997. Still, researchers are beginning to make progress in unraveling this baffling disorder, and the number of resources available for families is increasing. Here, six facts about autism that every parent should know.

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