–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.
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.
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.
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.
The latest autism research from the Autism Research Center
Autism Fact Sheet from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Autism Research Institute
Environmental Working Group. See information on toxic chemicals:
by Marilyn Weisberg, MPH
health writer for babyQ