I don’t want my baby to be autistic—what can I do?

Posted by | October 10, 2017 | LENS, Lifestyle, Pregnancy Medicine | No Comments
autism

 –A question from Jasmin in Illinois–

You’re not alone if you worry about having a baby with autism. It is one of the leading and fastest growing developmental disabilities in the U.S., affecting 1 in every 110 children—three times as many little boys as little girls.

As a babyQ member, you will discover ways to reduce your baby’s risk of neurocognitive problems, like autism and ADHD. This is our mission and we are here to help.

Possible causes

Autism is complex and there is no single cure or prevention strategy. The exact cause is unclear. Many different factors are under scrutiny, including:

  •  genetics and family history
  • epigenetic changes that alter gene expression (how genes turn on and off),
  •  exposure to chemical toxins and pollutants
  • unhealthy behaviors and lifestyle factors in pregnancy
  • infections, viruses, allergies, and food sensitivities.

Intervention and research

Early therapeutic interventions can make a difference in how well children with autism do in later childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Ongoing research is critical and, today, there are many doctors and scientists working hard to solve the mysteries behind this perplexing disorder.

Autism spectrum

The autism spectrum includes classic autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and PDD or pervasive developmental disorder. Affected children have a range of problems with behavior, communication, speech, learning, relationships, and independence.

New research

Recent genetic studies underscore some common themes in mild to severe developmental disabilities and neuropsychiatric disorders:

  • Factors in biology and environment can cause gene mutations (changes, mistakes), which can lead to disease.
  • Multiple disruptive events can affect the genes in one individual.
  • A mutation in one gene can create imbalances in multiple genes.
  • A similar mutation can act differently in different individuals.

The best advice

The best advice is to have the healthiest and greenest pregnancy possible–

  • Get your babyQ score up as high as it can go.
  • Follow all of the babyQ messages tailored to you.
  • Do as much as you can to support strong fetal brain, nerve, and blood vessel development.
  • With each successive pregnancy, begin your prenatal vitamins early– while you are planning for a pregnancy.
  • Live a clean, low-stress life with minimal exposure to toxic substances, chemicals, and environmental contaminants.
  • Eat organically grown fruits and vegetables when you can; wash all produce extremely well; choose foods low in pesticides.
  • Encourage your significant other to do the same. His lifestyle, medical history, and genetic profile can also factor into your baby’s risk.

References:

The latest autism research from the Autism Research Center
http://www.autismresearchcentre.com/

Autism Fact Sheet from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm

Autism Research Institute
http://www.autism.com/

Environmental Working Group. See information on toxic chemicals:
http://www.ewg.org/chemindex

by Marilyn Weisberg, MPH
health writer for babyQ

Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”