Pregnant women, listen up! Prenatal factors are linked to increased risk of autism

Updated on:13 January 2020, 19:14pm IST
The risk of autism is associated with several prenatal factors. Hence, pregnant woman should steer clear of these environmental components.
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex condition.

Bringing a life into the world is a wonderful and miraculous thing. However, having a child who suffers from autism is not an easy situation to deal with. Not only does the child face a host of societal issues, it is also stressful for a parent.

While experts are still unsure as to what really contributes to autism in children, a survey, published in Centre of Disease Control (CDC), found that there is a 16% rise in cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children.

Here’s what contributes to autism in children
There are a few studies that claim changes during pregnancy could lead to cases of autism in children. A research, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, points towards genetic make-up and a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association cites environmental factors and genetic factors each contributing to 50% of the risk for the disorder.

And even though genetic factors cannot be altered, one can definitely alter the mother’s experience during pregnancy and her exposure to external factors linked to autism spectrum disorder.

Pregnancy complications and autism
Several studies have suggested that a host of complications during pregnancy such as high blood pressure, abnormal bleeding and complications during birth may contribute to autism risk.

These could be a result of medications that the mother is taking or pre-birth stress that she faces from external sources.

Also read: Make these 6 expert-backed tips your Bible to avoid unnecessary weight gain during pregnancy

Medications, infection and risk of autism
Unfortunately, a lot of time pregnant women notice a sea-change in their body, which may cause serious physical pains.

risk of autism
From feet to your breasts–pregnancy can change everything. GIF courtesy: GIPHY

Pregnant women, who used pain relievers like Tylenol, have been found to have a greater chance of having a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or ASD. The same was determined by researchers from Johns Hopkins University.

Another study, published in the journal Autism Research, found that women who had an infection during the second trimester of pregnancy accompanied by a fever are more likely to have children with ASD.

Morning sickness and how it adds to risk of ASD

Morning sickness, which is common during pregnancy, could be a warning bell as well. Children whose mothers suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness during pregnancy, were 53% more likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, found a research published in the American Journal of Perinatology.

How increase in intake of iron could help keep autism away

Experts are of the opinion that a healthy intake of iron during pregnancy through iron-rich food like meats, seafood, spinach, broccoli and lentils could help keep autism away.

A study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that mothers who were iron deficient were five more times likely to have children with autism.

Also read: Hear it from an ob-gyn: The dos and don’ts of exercising during pregnancy

risk of autism
Don’t let the weighing scale move too much during pregnancy.
Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In conclusion

A number of physical and mental factors contribute to the prevalence of ASD in children. Researches have shown that bleeding and infection during pregnancy is associated with 81% higher risk of autism.

A study by Israel’s Hebrew University found that excess circulation of stress hormones alter the programming of foetal neurons and may result in ASD among children.

Be it genetic or environmental, would-be-mothers need to be aware of their mental and physical health and abstain from overdependence to medication to reduce the risk of autism before the birth of their child.

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