Author: Maureen Salamon
Published: April 7, 2016
In this report by HealthDay, a new large research review suggests that short gaps between pregnancies may increase the risk of autism in children. Likewise, after examining current researches involving over 1.1 million children, scientists discovered longer pregnancy gaps of over five years might increase the risks of NDD*, too.
In a study published in the journal, Pediatrics, author Dr. Agustin Conde-Agudelo suggests that the perfect IPI* is two to five years to reduce the risk of autism. He works as a researcher for the World Health Organization Collaborating Center in Human Reproduction of the University of Valle in Cali, Columbia. He said the link between short IPI and autism and other NDDs are yet unknown but noted that experts believe nutrition and other causes may play a role, too.
To find the link, Dr. Conde-Agudelo and his team reviewed seven large studies. He found that children born to women with below 12 months IPI were almost twice more likely to develop autism than those with three years IPI or longer. Three studies stated as well a major link between long pregnancy spacing and autism, such as Asperger’s syndrome and PDD*.
The findings likewise link shorter pregnancy spacing to increased risk of developmental delays and cerebral palsy that can affect body movement, muscle coordination, and balance.
Dr. Conde-Agudelo said he and his team thinks the mother’s low folic acid level due to short IPI may play a role in the increased risk of autism. Vitamin B folic acid is basic for the proper brain and spinal cord development of the fetus. With this, most doctors tell pregnant patients to take folic acid supplements.
With longer pregnancy gaps, they assumed problems such as infertility, unplanned pregnancy, and maternal inflammation levels could affect the risk of autism.
In their notes, the researchers likewise said a complex mix of issues might cause most NDDs, plus autism. These include genetics, environment, parental health and behaviors during pregnancy, and birth complications. This suggests that experts should research further to understand how these issues affect fetal growth.
The content is helpful but not convincing. Maureen Salamon, the author, needs to cite more resources that will pique her readers’ interest. Her report is formal yet conversational; thus, allowing the readers to digest it with ease. Its sentences are long, but such is common in health-related topics. She even explained the jargons well. As a whole, the write-up serves as a helpful reminder to parents, more so to mothers, to take care of their health and plan their pregnancy.
*Neurodevelopmental Disorder (NDD) – defined as a precise genetic or acquired biological brain disorder or condition that is responsible for childhood-onset brain dysfunction.
*Inter-pregnancy Interval (IPI) – defined as the period between delivery of the previous infant and conception of the current pregnancy, excluding miscarriage as a preceding event.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests, and behavior.
Asperger’s Syndrome – is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, process information, and relates to other people.
*Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs) – refers to a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills. Most notable among them are the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination.