What Can Parents Do?
The major focus of research in autismhas mostly been on uncovering the underlying genetic causes with lessemphasis on potential environmental causes. However,these recent findings show the significant influence of the baby’s environment orexperiences before birth that may be risk factors to the development of a pervasive developmental disorder.
Parents, especially pregnant mothers, must be educated on matters that may affect their pregnancy and delivery because many of these factors may be affected by lifestyle and health habits. For instance, a mother must ensure she follows the recommended diet and exercise for pregnant women and must avoid certain medications, food and activities that may put her baby at risk for the disease.
Regular visits to the obstetrician’s office are advisable during the pregnancy. If you are suffering from any health disorders, such as diabetes or hypertension, you should seek out specialized medical advice.
Although some of these non-genetic factors are unpredictable or non-modifiable, modern technologies and advanced medical knowledge now allow mothers and physicians to be more educated on what can be done to decrease the chances of unwanted birth complications.
More research must be done to explore not only genetic links to autism spectrum disorders, but to identify environmental and lifestyle factors that may increase the risk for the disorders. Lay advocacy groups must also encourage more funding for research, education of parents and finding treatments for children with these problems.