Autism and Pregnancy - Riva Ritvo, PHD, OTR/L

This article was written by Dr. Riva Ritvo PHD, OTR/L

Several scientific studies have failed to connect events during pregnancy and autism. The only factors we know to be associated with secondary autism are Rubella or viruses like it during pregnancy. If a couple already has a child with autism, the possibility of having another one is approximately 8 percent. This chance is higher if the child with autism is a girl. A pregnant woman should use normal caution and follow her OB's orders with regard to diet, exercise, prenatal vitamins and activity level. Autism results most likely from a misprogramming of the brain. A pregnant woman cannot cause autism in her child by exercising too much, or eating the wrong foods. Currently, doctors recommend eating tuna and other fish in moderate amounts because of high mercury content. While this is true, and you should follow your doctor's dietary guidelines, the notion that mercury toxicity is responsible specifically for autism has no scientific support. Of course common sense dictates that from the moment a woman is aware that she is pregnant, she should consult with her physician about taking any medication including over the counter medications.

There is hype out there about an epidemic of autism. That is frightening to pregnant women. Let me assure you that we are diagnosing better and earlier and that we are diagnosing cases that are so mild, they escaped medical attention before. There is no true epidemic, we are just more familiar with it, so relax and enjoy your pregnancy. The chances of getting in a car accident are much higher than that of having a child with autism if there is no history of autism in your family.

Finally, you must be hearing a lot about vaccines and autism. You probably have been warned about vaccinating that yet to be born baby. You must protect your new upcoming baby. There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism. Trimersol (the accused culprit) has been removed from the vaccines. Please discuss this with your pediatrician. Failure to vaccinate your new born baby may end up in disaster. Some of the diseases we vaccinate against can cause brain damage in an unprotected infant. I urge you to talk to your doctor about your concerns and not form an opinion based on internet information.

By Riva Ariella Ritvo, PhD
Dr. Riva Ritvo PHD is based in Los Angeles, California


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