It has been demonstrated that following a natural or manmade disaster, the rates of ADHD and autism increase. That’s because of the stress that pregnant women suffer during such crises.
What’s happening is that the increase in stress changes the way the placenta barrier between mother and child operates. This causes the infant to experience a change in the nutrient blood flow from his or her mother. This impacts how the infant’s brain develops. It also reprograms the infant’s “set points” that govern his or her biological functions after birth.
It is common in the press to talk about the ADHD/autism epidemic. But very few people have related it to the 9/11 disaster. Women’s lives changed forever that day when New York and Washington were attacked. And then, the wars came, and pregnant women suffered stress when their partners were sent to fight. This had an impact on their developing infants. Meanwhile, the stress of daily life increased for everyone. That was due to the recession which was caused, in part, by the disaster, the wars, and the spending spree that followed.
This is why I’m calling the current surge in developmental disorders the 9/11 ADHD-autism syndrome. If you have children born after 9/11 who have developmental problems, I’d like her hear from you. Write to me at Contact Dr. Billy Kidd. Also, if you have any other insights into this syndrome please tell me about them.
I fully understand that there are multiple causes of the long-term increase in the rates of ADHD and autism, and that the surge appears to have started in the 1980s. But remember, prenatal stress of any kind can affect the development of your child’s brain. Stress is also a primary cause of spontaneous abortion and premature birth.
This is why in my book, Low Stress Romance, I discussed how it is important to have a low stress romantic relationship if you are expecting to have children. Stress in romantic relationships and home environments are a common risk factor for ADHD and autism, as well as other disorders such as depression and schizophrenia.
Regardless of what future investigations eventually show about 9/11, my point here is to get the discussion rolling concerning developmental disorders. We need more information about how stressors impact infant brain development. We also need to move faster than we did in the past. It was well over two hundred years ago that it was noted during London’s Gin Craze that the stress caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy caused fetal alcohol syndrome. And like the warnings about smoking during pregnancy, that information took a long time to get out.
So let’s start a new discussion now: How does stress during pregnancy impact developing infants? And let’s offer more help to women during national crises like 9/11 and at other times when they are dealing with stress. Please join me in this conversation.
-Dr Billy Kidd