Twist The Wrong Way
December 5, 2016 · Posted in Parenting, Pregnancy · Permalink · Comments (2)

pexels-photo-25199Last week in yoga class, my mat was next to a pregnant woman. She moved like an experienced practitioner, not a newbie, so I was distracted and surprised that the teacher had to come over repeatedly to remind her not to twist in the direction of everyone else but twist the opposite way, so as not to crowd the baby. The woman was obviously pushing herself intensely, and it upset me.  I found myself judging. “Is she crazy? Can’t she stop herself? She’s not taking care of that baby…” It was preoccupying me and I  was having a very hard time focusing on my own practice.

Yoga teaches you to notice your flow of thoughts and to stop them. To note the thoughts and judgments that pass through the mind and then gently bring yourself back to a centered place. So, I started to observe my thinking rather than being lead by it. I noticed I was worrying about the baby in her belly. I was identified with the baby. Caught up in judging this woman for her inability to override herself and do what was right for her baby.  Then I thought about all the times, not in yoga,  but in life as a mother, that I “twisted the wrong way”.

  • The snarky comment I made the ‘nano’ second after I told myself not to say anything.
  • The lecture I gave when I knew I should be listening
  • My impatience when I knew that one of my daughters needed calm and comfort more than anything.

The times when I knew what to do but somehow “chose” to twist the wrong way, and not care for one of my children in a way my higher self knew I should. As we moved on through poses on the mat, I started to feel empathy sliding in to replace judgement. Pushed by fear or worry (for her, maybe about her weight, or her changing body) we all do things that hurt our children. I began to feel connected to this pregnant woman, instead of separate from, or better than. I noticed the relief I felt that I when I was pregnant, it was fine to just take it easy and eat and wear big clothes. Now, with so much pressure to be a skinny, sexy, pregnant person, who knows if I would be able to fight the urge to push too hard instead of taking good care of myself, or my growing baby. I felt grateful for the freedom that came with being pregnant in a very different time.

I let go of my focus on her and got back into my own body, enjoying the ability to move-the exertion and the relaxation. When I noticed her again at the end of class, I wanted to say, “Welcome to motherhood, where we often twist the wrong way.”

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Winter Conception Linked to Autism
May 24, 2011 · Posted in Autism, Parenting, Pregnancy, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off on Winter Conception Linked to Autism

A study in the journal, Epidemiology,  reports that babies conceived during winter had a significantly greater risk of autism.  The study examined the birth records of more than six million children born in California during the 1990s and early 2000s.

The risk of having a child with an autism spectrum disorder grew progressively throughout the fall and winter to early spring with children conceived in March having a 16 percent greater risk of later autism diagnoses, when compared with July conceptions.

The researchers said the finding suggests that environmental factors, for example, exposure to seasonal viruses like influenza, might play a role in the greater risk they found of children conceived during the winter having autism.

“The study finding was pronounced even after adjusting for factors such as maternal education, race/ethnicity, and the child’s year of conception,” said lead study author Ousseny Zerbo, a fifth-year doctoral student in the graduate group in epidemiology in the Department of Public Health Sciences in the UC Davis School of Medicine.

The study found that the overall risk of having a child with autism increased from month to month during the winter through the month of March. For the study, winter was considered the months of December, January and February. Each month was compared with July with an 8 percent higher incidence in December, increasing to 16 percent higher in March.

Earlier studies’ findings about autism risk and month of conception or birth have had varied results. Some, such as ones conducted in Israel, Sweden, and Denmark, have found an increased risk of autism for children born in March. Studies conducted in Canada, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom identified an increased risk of autism for children born in the spring. However, these studies were far smaller, most having a few hundred cases of autism, when compared with the large number in California.

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Autism and Spacing Babies
April 14, 2011 · Posted in Autism, Parenting, Pregnancy · Permalink · Comments Off on Autism and Spacing Babies

A recent study conducted gives important data on the relationship between autism and spacing out the births of your children. Here is Dr. Nestor Lopez-Duran of Child Psychology Research Blog’s summary of the research.

A team from Columbia University was interested in examining the link between Inter Pregnancy Interval (e.g., time between pregnancies; IPI) and autism. IPI is important because short intervals between pregnancies (e.g., having kids too close together) is associated with specific physiological factors that have been linked to developmental problems, such as low birth weight, prematurity, etc.

For the study, the researchers examined all births in California from 1992 to 2002. They were able to identify 662,730 sibling pairs for which they had information about the timing of the pregnancies. That is, they identified the number of months between the births of the first and the second sibling. They then obtained a large number of demographic and clinical information such as race/ethnicity, gestational age of the pregnancies, paternal age, etc. They were also able to gather information about the autism diagnosis of these children from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) records.

A total of 3,137 second-born siblings with autism were identified. An important characteristic of this study is that the DDS does not provide services to children with only PDD-NOS or Asperger’s. Therefore the results are specific to the presence of full autism.

The authors then calculated whether the probability of having autism among second-born siblings changed as a function of the number of months that lapsed since the birth of the first-born sibling.

The probability that the second-born child had autism was very high if the time between pregnancies was under 12 months. In contrast, the probability was lower if the time between pregnancies was longer than 24 months.

The numbers below give you an even better picture. Once you control for a number of factors such as child’s sex, parental age, etc etc, having pregnancies close together greatly increased the risk for autism in the second-born child. Specifically:

– Children born less than 12 months after their siblings were close to 300% more likely to have autism when compared to second-born children born 48 months after the first sibling.

– Children born between 12 and 23 months after their siblings were 110% more likely to have autism when compared to second-born children born 48 months after the first sibling.

– Children born between 24 and 35 months after their siblings were 42% more likely to have autism when compared to second-born children born 48 months after the first sibling.

The risk finally stabilized at 36 months. Specifically, being born 36 months after their siblings did not increase or decrease the chance of autism as compared to kids born 48 months after their siblings. Likewise, being born many many months after their siblings (for example more than 84 months) did not reduce the chance of having autism as compared to those born 36 months after their siblings.

This suggests that waiting 36 months between pregnancies would reduce the risk of autism but waiting longer provides no added benefit.

Now the really interesting question is why. What is the mechanism that could explain this finding?

The authors suggest that a likely cause may be folate depletion. Short time between pregnancies is associated with nutritional depletion and folate depletion in particular. Folate is a critical nutrient needed during pregnancy for DNA synthesis and levels of maternal folate decline drastically during the 12 months after having a child.

Here is an useful article from the National Institutes of Health about folate

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