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Factors that may Increase the Risk of Autism

Autism is a neural development disorder characterized by difficulty in social interaction and other similar challenging behaviors. Autism is usually diagnosed before the age of three and is bound to heavily impact a person’s entire life. Autism affects millions of people worldwide and is considered as among the most common developmental disorders.

Despite the advances in medical technology, scientists and researchers are yet to find a cure for autism and they are still clueless with regards to the main causes of autism. However, there are several known risk factors that are believed to increase the risk of autism.

Closely-Spaced Pregnancy

Various research studies suggest that a higher risk of autism is expected to occur in mothers who give birth 36 months apart. It is said that closely-spaced pregnancies deplete the essential nutrients in a mother’s womb, necessary to facilitate the normal growth and development of the unborn baby. A mother loses substantial amount of folate and iron during pregnancy which somehow increases the risk of autism.

Bleeding During Pregnancy

Bleeding during pregnancy can result into the condition of foetal hypoxia – a prenatal condition in which lack of oxygen in the unborn child’s brain is observed. Similarly, the lack of oxygen can result into genetic abnormalities and therefore increases the risk of giving birth to a child with autism.

Viral Infections

Viral infections particularly rubella or the so-called German measles also increases the risk of autism. Mothers who were infected with such disease primarily during the first three months of pregnancy display a greater risk of giving birth to a child with autism.

Medical History of Parents

Another contributing risk factor of autism is the parent’s medical history specifically medical history concerning psychoses such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. Studies show that a greater number of autism cases are found in children with parents having a history of psychoses disorders.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes, a rare form of diabetes caused by high levels of glucose during pregnancy, is also believed to increase the risk of autism. Mothers who have a history of gestational diabetes are more likely to give birth to a child with autism.

Other Risk Factors

Various research studies also associate the risk of having autism to several other factors including the birth order of a baby, prenatal medications and the use of other drugs, both parents’ age and stress caused by change in environment during pregnancy among others.