During my internship I have met and interacted with a lot of special children and their parents. These children, because of their condition, have then become my patients. As part of providing an affective management for them, it is important for me to know the congenital history of their condition. Thus, I am required to ask their parents, usually their moms, regarding the details of their pregnancy. Most of the children’s conditions such as autism, cleft of the lip or palate, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment and mental retardation are congenital in origin and thus can be related to the events that had occurred during their conception. A number of previous researches have indicated that most women who get pregnant beyond the age of 35 may have a higher risk of having children who have mental retardation or have Down’s Syndrome. Some studies also show that exposure of pregnant women to teratogens such as rubella virus and radiation, has caused their children to have hearing impairment or cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, most of the mothers I have talked to are not aware of the risks they encounter during pregnancy as well as the various effects of these risks on their babies.
Congenital problems of children may be caused by various factors or the interaction of those factors. Some problems such as mental retardation and congenital malformations may have compounding causes, while some conditions, like autism, may not even have a definite, proven cause. Most parents I have talked to, especially those that have not yet consulted with any doctor, are surprised to learn that their children’s conditions are a consequence of something that they had done or had taken (in cases of medication in-take) during their pregnancy. Some of them even mentioned that they had hoped to have known earlier about the risks of being pregnant, back when they can still do something to prevent it from affecting their children. Other, on the other hand, have expressed their fear of having another child with the looming possibility of their next baby having the same condition.
I felt that as part of my profession it is my responsibility to help inform parents, especially mothers or soon to be mothers, about the risks they face during pregnancy and what they can do about it. I have identified three most common risks; namely, stress, in-take of medications, and smoking and alcoholic drink in-take, that may adversely affect the congenital development of infants. I have also included some options that pregnant women can choose to follow to avoid the said risks and their effects.
Stress During Pregnancy
Researchers have been contending about stress among pregnant women and its effects to infants. A previous research has claimed that stress during pregnancy does not affect the condition of the baby in any way. However, recent studies show that this can actually cause pre-term labor among women and low birth weight of infants. The feeling of being stressed may be due to different reasons. Among pregnant women this may be attributed to hormonal and physical changes they experience as well as changes in their lifestyle.