Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Autism Causes and Blaming Moms

This morning I was sitting upstairs while John was getting dressed for work and we had the news on.  All of the sudden we hear the newscaster say something about a report that could potentially “erase autism”.  We looked at each other like huh?  I proceeded to stay glued to the screen for as long as possible and never heard a word on the Today show about it.  So I decided to Google it.

Big mistake. Have you tried googling the following lately?
Autism, causes
Autism, news,
Autism, pregnancy

First of all, it’s depressing.  Second of all, wow.  The number of theories out there is staggering; the thing that is most obvious is that really no one knows.  Thank goodness the idea of it being mom’s fault for being a “refrigerator mom” aka, unaffectionate, inattentive, etc. has been thrown out the window.   However, here is what is disturbing me- the number of results I found when I googled autism, pregnancy.
Brain changes that relate to autism begin in the womb

Eating healthy fats during pregnancy may reduce the risk of autism

Antibodies during pregnancy linked to autism

Induced labor linked to raised risk of autism:

Mom’s health during pregnancy correlated to autism risk:

Flu/fever in pregnancy linked with autism risk:

Major stress during pregnancy linked to autism:

Lack of folic acid in pregnancy linked with autism:

Study links autism with antidepressant use during pregnancy:

Air pollution exposure during pregnancy linked to autism:

Are ultrasounds during pregnancy causing autism?

Could the timing between pregnancies raise a child’s risk of autism?

Mom’s pregnancy weight may increase risk of autism:

Thyroid functioning during pregnancy linked to autism:

Valproate used during pregnancy linked to increased autism risk:

Wow is right.  I included all of these links lest you thought I was exaggerating.  The refrigerator mom theory may be out, but that doesn’t mean that mom’s today don’t feel as though they are blamed for their children’s challenges.  We all have an innate sense of guilt about this to begin with, so do autism dads.  We all wonder “what did we do wrong?”  And as you can see, all we have to do is consult Google to find out that we did everything wrong, right.

Well let’s review my personal history: both times I was pregnant, I was not obese, I did not have diabetes or hypertension, I took folic acid, my thyroid results were fine, I did not take valproate, I did not have extra ultrasounds, my kids were almost 3 years apart, I didn’t have the flu or a fever, although I did have a stomach bug.  Neither of my labors were induced, in fact, no Pitocin actually entered my body during either delivery, nor did I even have an epidural with my second labor.  I did take an antidepressant, but I switched to the one that is considered “safe” in pregnancy.

That doesn’t change the fact that I still feel guilty about it. Maybe that’s it.  Maybe I caused this.  This still enters my mind, even though there are significant genetic correlations in both my family and John’s, which we were not even aware of when our boys were born.  I can still find a way to blame myself. 

If I could reason with journalists and medical agencies who are releasing this “information”, I would say that by making these likely insignificant “correlations” public, they are making many mothers feel like bad parents.  Mothers who actually need and deserve the exact opposite.  I understand that everyone is searching for answers; I understand that everyone wants to be “the one” who figures this out.  But ouch, is this hurtful.

Here is the most credible resource I have found:

Absolutely love this.  I never did figure out what the “autism eraser” is.  Guess I’ll have to stay tuned.  Maybe I should have avoided drinking water?


  1. Thank you for this post! Ha, yeah maybe I drink too much water too!?

  2. It seems like every time you turn around, there's some new article about how something that you do during pregnancy can affect your child negatively. But we can't get stressed out about it, obviously, because that could affect our unborn children, too. I'm just waiting for the day that they tell women then need to live in a climate-controlled bubble during pregnancy.

  3. Reading is bad for you lol. The amount of conflicting studies I read boggles the mind. But it just goes to show that autism has everyone stumped :( they really have no idea what's going on and are just throwing stuff around hoping it sticks.

  4. Hello, all!
    I read on internet that inducing and stimulation of labor with medications, such as oxitocine and others, during child birth may cause attention deficit, hyperacticity, autusm, cerebral palsy of the baby in his/her future. Because, the medications mentioned may cause sharp oxygen starvation of the brain of an infant being born, which leads to death of part of his/her white brain cells.

  5. I dunno. I think half the fun of it is that every week, there's three new things that "cause Autism". It's like it's designed to drive us all batty...

    I swear - next week, it'll be popcorn that causes Autism. Watch for it.