Attilio D'Alberto
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Preventing autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Over the last two decades there has been a tremendous growth in the number of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). It has moved from a relatively rare condition (1 in 10 000) to 1 in 68 in the United States. There is great controversy over the causes of Autism.

Autism is commonly seen more in boys than in girls. Current media interest places the focus on vaccinations. However, there are several other causes that research has shown increase the risk of children developing Autism. They include:

  • A lack of maternal folic acid
  • A lack of maternal vitamin D
  • A viral infection during pregnancy (MIA)
  • Air pollutants (cars and industry)
  • Anticonvulsants and other psychotropic medications
  • Both parents having autistic traits
  • Excessive ultrasounds in the first trimester
  • Exposure to high levels of mercury
  • High fat diet during pregnancy
  • High testosterone levels in pregnant mothers
  • ICSI
  • Low levels of oxytocin
  • Maternal grandmother smoking
  • Mothers with PCOS prior to pregnancy
  • Mothers who take paracetamol (acetaminophen) during pregnancy
  • Overweight and obese mothers
  • Pesticides
  • Plasticizers
  • The use of clomid before pregnancy
  • The use of antidepressants (SSRIs) during pregnancy

A novel way of seeing if your child is more likely to be Autistic, is to measure the 2nd (index) and 4th (ring finger) digit finger of the father's hand. Men tend to have longer ring fingers relative to women. If the 4th finger digit is longer than the 2nd, then it indicates higher than normal levels of testosterone, which can lead to Autism. Other more medical based research have shown that children at high risk of developing Autism have an increase in levels of extra-axial cerebrospinal fluid at the age of 6 months.

You can reduce the risk of your baby developing Autism by eating no more than 10% of fat in your diet a day during pregnancy and by taking a probiotic that contains lactobacillus reuteri, which can increase levels of oxytocin that reduces anxiety behavior and aids social bonding. New research has shown a link between taking paracetamol (acetaminophen) in pregnancy and an increase in Autism in male babies. Whilst other research has shown having ultrasounds in the first trimester may lead to Autism if there is a genetic tendency in the child (CNVs).

In a study of over 2 million children growing up in Sweden, researchers found that obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) were linked to several factors experienced by the fetus during pregnancy, including the mother smoking whilst pregnant, breech presentation, delivery by cesarean section, preterm birth, low birth weight and being large for gestational age.