Autistic people are more vulnerable to depression and anxiety during pregnancy, reveals a new study. An online survey was conducted with a sample of 524 non-autistic and 417 autistic people about thier experience of pregnancy. People who have given birth previously or were pregnant at the time were eligible to take part in the survey conducted by researchers at the Autism Research Centre.
As per the study, autistic parents were around three times more likely of having experienced prenatal depression and anxiety than non-autistic parents. While only 9 percent of non-autistic parents experienced depression and anxiety, the percentage was 24 percent for autistic parents.
On the pregnancy healthcare front, autistic parents reported lesser satisfaction. Autistic respondents were less likely to trust professionals, feel that professionals took their questions and concerns seriously, feel that professionals treated them respectfully, and be satisfied with how information was presented to them in appointments.
Furthermore, autistic respondents were more likely to experience sensory issues during pregnancy and more likely to feel overwhelmed by the sensory environment of prenatal appointments.
Dr Sarah Hampton, the lead researcher on the study, said, “This study suggests that autistic people are more vulnerable to mental health difficulties during pregnancy. It is imperative that effective mental health screening and support is available for autistic people during pregnancy.” Dr Rosie Holt, a member of the research team, added: “The results also suggest that autistic people may benefit from accommodations to prenatal healthcare. These may include adjustments to the sensory environment of healthcare settings, as well as adjustments to how information is communicated during prenatal appointments.”
Dr Carrie Allison, Deputy Director of the Autism Research Centre and a member of the team, said: “We are grateful to members of the autistic community for providing feedback when we designed this research. It is vital that autistic people with lived experience help shape the research we do, and we keep their priorities as a clear focus.”
(With inputs from ANI)