Risk Factors for Autism

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.


7 Responses

  1. That is very interesting…

  2. That would certainly explain increased rates in autism over the last generation, wouldn’t it? If it is one of those diseases that is genetic but needs certain environmental factors as well, and one of those factors is decreased fetal oxygen, and pitocin use is up to 97 % in a lot of places…

  3. I’ve started to wonder also about genetics. Some people I know (this is so anecdotal it’s ridiculous) who have autistic or autism spectrum labeled kiddos are very meticulous people in their lives. They are either very intelligent, or very organized. One family I can think of…the father is socially shy but an excellent precise worker. The mother is very well studied and also very organized. I just wonder if autism is one of those things that might be part of genetics that gets more and more focused with each generation until you have a baby who actually has enough characteristics to be identified? There are other conditions like this physically, the families that have hands that eventually become like lobster claws is one I’ve seen. The older generations don’t show very many characteristics, but each generation gets a little bit more and more until you have a baby with fused fingers (I think this was the disorder I saw).

    • When autism was first identified, it was thought to be developmental — that the mothers were cold and remote, and caused their children to develop abnormally. Then it was thought to be genetic — because the affected children were often the offspring of very smart people. However, proponents of the idea that vaccines cause (or play a role in the development of) autism, point out that “very smart people” were often more well-off and either due to their trust in other smart people (doctors and scientists) or due to their finances, were more likely to get vaccines and other things recommended by doctors. They note that as vaccines became more widespread and universal, so did autism.

      There may be a genetic role that autism plays — perhaps “priming the pump” for other factors. There doesn’t seem to be a “silver bullet” for autism — at least, none discovered so far. I’m having a discussion on one forum in which the man declares that there must be prenatal factors for autism. Although what those factors are, is not said. I’m not convinced it’s solely prenatal factors — I think there may be perinatal and postpartum factors as well.

      As far as the “meticulous” nature of some people — it could be genetic, but it could also have a role in immunity. For instance, some people think that they need to keep their kids in a plastic bubble (exaggerated), so that they never get sick. However, if children aren’t exposed to normal germs, they tend to have worse responses when they eventually come into contact with *gasp* germs. This seems to play a role in things like allergies and asthma; it may also be a role for autism. I’m not well-versed enough in all the different theories, counter-theories, science and conspiracy theories to have a hope of knowing for sure, however much I may question, think, and suspect.

      • I just remembered this article about a child whose autism was proven in a federal “vaccine court” to have been caused by a vaccine she received.

        “In its written concession, the government said the child had a pre-existing mitochondrial disorder that was “aggravated” by her shots, and which ultimately resulted in an ASD diagnosis.

        Perhaps it could be said that the mitochondrial disorder was genetic.

  4. Of course, my anecdotal assessment might just be nothing whatsoever…

  5. I think making a leap from bleeding in pregnancy to pitocin use causes autism is a pretty big leap and one we maybe shouldn’t make quite yet.

    Will check out the actual article as it sounds interesting

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