We're hearing a lot about autism these days. New studies are linking dramatically increased autism rates with genetic mutations. Another study links autism with antidepressants and still more studies link it to environmental factors. At the same time, the FDA refuses to ban BPA, a chemical used in food packaging that's linked to autism and other serious diseases. There's still a strong camp focused on the supposed link between vaccinations and autism, even while we're experiencing dramatically increased rates of whooping cough (Pertussis) in some parts of the country. Wow, that's a lot to worry about.
Read more: BPA Alert
Here are my five tips for what to do:
1. Dial down the fear factor - Yes, 1 in 88 is a daunting statistic. But, It also means 87 out of 88 babies will not develop autism. Even if your baby does fall "on the spectrum," that doesn't necessarily mean disability. It might mean your child will be a genius or incredibly sensitive, artistic, scientific, musical, or otherwise gifted (like Albert Einstein or Jane Austen - both suspected of being autistic). Will you love your child? That's one thing we can guarantee.
2. Do some emotional housework- Stress and depression run rampant in our society, especially among women. We thought we'd fixed that with antidepressants, but now we've discovered they're not so great when combined with pregnancy. Should you give up antidepressants? That's between you and your doctor. Some women need them to survive. They really, really need them.
3. Change your environment - We may not be able to immediately change the environment outside our front door, but we can take steps today to change our environment at home. Throw out your plastic food storage containers and cups and cut back on food packaging. Clean with non-toxic, non-chemically laden cleaners. Turn back time and clean like your great-grandma did with products that didn't pollute.
4. Change your diet - You really are what you eat. I'm serious. Read it.
5. Practice gratitude - yeah, I know that sounds oh-so-Oprah, but the lady knows what she's talking about.
Oh, and about those vaccinations and the whooping cough epidemic - if you're worried about the vaccine-autism connection, there seems to be enough evidence now to indicate they're not at fault.
Still, if the traditional approach to vaccination worries you, talk to your pediatrician about your concerns and the possibility of an alternate vaccination schedule. And for God's sake, if you do no other early infancy vaccinations, get a Pertussis vaccination for your baby, your self and anyone else who comes in contact with your child. Whooping cough can kill and disable babies by robbing them of oxygen. Don't take that risk. The odds are too great.