A disability is a condition of the body or mind which restricts the participation of an individual in activities of daily living and limits his /her independent functioning of age and appropriate roles. Some of them are low vision, loco-motor disability, intellectual disability, mental illness, dwarfism , autism spectrum disorder, speech disorders, muscular dystrophy, thalassemia, haemophilia & multiple sclerosis. There are various prenatal, peri natal and post natal factors that cause disabilities or exacerbate disabilities and with proper awareness and preventive measures can be averted
Prenatal factors underlying disability
Prenatal factors or ante natal factors are those factors and conditions that occur during gestational period i.e. before birth.
Lack of balanced diet intake by expecting mothers can pose foetus at risk for various forms of disabilities.
Lack of folic acid
Folic acid is the survival fluid for foetus and lack of it can lead to various gestational complications and put a foetus at risk for various developmental disabilities. One of the chief causes is late marriage and poor nutrition. After 30s level of folic acid start declining. It can lead to preterm birth and abortion also.
If an expecting lady has any kind of stress, this can pose both direct and indirect threat to the foetus thereby increasing the risk for having a disability. Stress is linked to diseases like hypertension , diabetes and thyroid which affect normal gestational process and can lead to disabilities like hearing disability, Global development delay (GDD), loco motor disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Down’s syndrome or autism. Stress among expecting mothers disrupts the brain development of foetus.
If a pregnant lady takes prolonged medicines like antibiotics, anti inflammatory drugs, this could pose a threat to foetal development & lead to disabilities.
RH incompatibility is when blood group of mother is (RH ) & foetus has RH (-ve); this may lead to disability as it kills RBCs in blood of foetus.
Maternal infections and trauma:
Various infectious diseases like rubella, measles among expecting mothers especially in 1st trimester can lead to visual impairment or hearing impairment among foetus. Accidents and traumas during pregnancy too can lead to disability depending on the severity and kind of trauma.
Fetal alcohal syndrome
If an expecting mother drinks huge amount of alcohol or takes cigarettes directly or via passive smoking; this could lead to various neurological, psychological and behavioural disorders like intellectual disability, Down’s syndrome and ADHD.
Due to excessive physical work and due to some unknown reasons the placenta or umbilical cord gets coiled around the neck of the foetus, that can lead to hypoxia(lack of enough oxygen supply ) & lack of food supply thereby posing a foetus at risk for physical or neuropsychological disabilities or even death depending upon severity and duration.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) and Genital Herpes
This can cause swelling of the uterus thereby posing foetus at risk.
Immunization is a key to prevent a foetus from disabilities and infections. Improper immunization can put a foetus at risk.
The conditions at the time of birth; i.e. at the time of delivery are known as perinatal factors and any mishandling at the time of delivery can led to disability among a child. Some of the main prenatal factors are:
Proper antenatal checkups, proper nutrition, immunization, stress free gestation; along with proper handling at the time of delivery and during developmental period should be ensured to prevent disabilities. In case a parent notices any deviance he/she should seek early intervention and rehabilitation. Govt & NGOs should conduct awareness programs especially in far flung areas. More and more researches should be conducted to prevent disabilities and to provide better rehabilitation techniques.