According to a new study, autistic persons are more prone to despair and anxiety during pregnancy.
The findings were reported in the journal ‘Autism and Developmental Disorders.’ In the study, 524 non-autistic persons and 417 autistic people answered an online survey about their pregnancy experiences, which was led by experts at the Autism Research Centre. Anyone who was pregnant or had already given birth at the time of answering was eligible to participate.
According to the study, autistic parents were around three times more likely than non-autistic parents to report prenatal sadness and anxiety (9% of non-autistic parents and 24% of autistic parents) (14 per cent of non-autistic parents and 48 per cent of autistic parents).
Autistic individuals were also less satisfied with pregnancy healthcare. Autistic individuals were less likely to trust experts, to believe that professionals took their questions and concerns seriously, to believe that professionals treated them with respect, and to be happy with how information was given to them during consultations. Furthermore, autistic people were more likely to have sensory difficulties during pregnancy and to be overwhelmed by the sensory environment of prenatal sessions.
“This study implies that autistic persons are more prone to mental health concerns during pregnancy,” stated Dr Sarah Hampton, the study’s principal researcher. Effective mental health screening and assistance for autistic persons during pregnancy is critical.”
“The results also show that autistic persons may benefit from adjustments to prenatal healthcare,” said Dr Rosie Holt, a member of the research team. Adjustments to the sensory environment of healthcare settings, as well as changes in how information is delivered during prenatal consultations, may be included.”
“We are thankful to members of the autistic community for offering comments as we developed this research,” said Dr Carrie Allison, Deputy Director of the Autism Research Centre and a member of the team.
It is critical that autistic persons with lived experience contribute define the research we conduct, and that we keep their goals in mind.”