This article intrigued me — a review of 64 studies of prenatal risk factors for autism.
Over 50 prenatal factors were examined. The researchers found that the factors most strongly associated with an increased autism risk are:
– Being born to an older mother or father.
– Having a mother who was born abroad.
– Having a mother who experienced bleeding during pregnancy.
– Having a mother who experienced gestational diabetes.
– Having a mother who used medication during pregnancy.
– Being the first born – or later born in families where there are three or more children.
The researchers said there was “insufficient evidence” to point to any one prenatal factor as being particularly significant. However, writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry, they said: “There is some evidence to suggest that exposure to pregnancy complications in general may increase the risk of autism.”
I’ll have to look and see if I can find the study — even the abstract — but thought this article worth mentioning. What is interesting to me is that they point to “bleeding during pregnancy” as a possible risk factor or cause for autism, because it may cause fetal hypoxia — lack of oxygen. Which makes me wonder if intrapartum fetal hypoxia may also cause or lead to autism. While it is possible for hypoxia and anoxia to happen during a normal labor, it’s more common to happen during a labor that is induced or augmented with Pitocin, because of the stronger, longer, and more frequent contractions Pitocin can cause. That’s the reason Pit is given; unfortunately, the side effect of increased contractions can be not enough oxygen to the baby.
I know there is a study currently underway that is looking at women who already have one child with autism, since there seems to be a family or sibling trait for autism — if you have one child with autism, you’re more likely to have a second child with autism, than someone who has no autistic children. They’re studying these women in detail — what they eat, what they drink, perfumes they wear, shampoos and clothes detergents they use — trying to figure out commonalities during pregnancy or the child’s early life that may lead to autism. I’m eager to see the results of the study, although I daresay it will be another 5 years before it’s published. A study like this will take years to get from pregnancy to autism diagnosis, and then probably a few more years as they comb through the massive amounts of data.