Along with being the big month to go-green for St. Patrick’s Day, it’s alsoDevelopmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Expecting and new moms have a lot to worry about, as motherhood can be daunting.
Prenatal months, (meaning the stage before conception and birth), can be nerve-wracking especially if you're trying to conceive. Then once you do conceive, it seems the worry never quite goes away. As last month wasInternational Prenatal Infection Prevention Month, it’s a reminder that babies are vulnerable during pregnancy and after birth.Preventing prenatal infectionis important and in some cases, can reduce the risk of developmental disabilities.
Types of Developmental Disabilities & Causes
Infectious diseases can sometimes cause developmental disabilities. However, there are several different types and causes. Unfortunately, some disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, can't be diagnosed in-utero, which is a Latin term for “in the womb.” Meanwhile, intellectual disabilities such as Down Syndrome, along with otherbirth defects can be detected through genetic testing as early as ten weeks into the pregnancy.
According to theCenter for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developmental disabilities are defined as the following:
“Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.”
There are five types of disabilities:
According tomedical experts, developmental disabilities in children are often hereditary and genetically passed down. Some causes can also be accidental such as near drowning or a brain injury post birth. Other causes for developmental disabilities can be exposure to lead poisoning, malnutrition, metabolic disorder, and intrauterine infection. Mothers who use drugs can place an unborn fetus at risk for developmental disabilities and heavy alcohol use can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome.
Older moms are at a higher risk of having a baby with developmental disabilities as aging eggs are prone to genetic defects. This is because women are born with the total number of eggs they will have for their entire life, the older the mother, the older the eggs.
Expecting mothers are suggested to take folic acid and prenatal vitamins to encourage a healthy pregnancy. Women trying to conceive should get genetically tested if they have concerns. Expectant mothers with theMTHFR genetic mutation are essentially unable to absorb folic acid which can lead to miscarriage and other potential developmental disabilities in her unborn fetus.
Expecting mothers with MTHFR mutation are highly recommended to takeL-methylfolate (folate) which her body can absorb.
Trying To Conceive? See Your Doctor!
If you're trying to conceive and are concerned about developmental disabilities and congenital disorders that might be hereditary, see your doctor and make an appointment with a genetic counselor to determine the best course of action.
Medical Disclaimer:Articles are intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. Ask your medical professional if you have any health-related questions or concerns.