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Lifestyle Choices Prevent Learning Disabilities

Preventing LDs with Healthy Lifestyle

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Updated July 13, 2011

Lifestyle Choices Prevent Learning Disabilities

Preventing Learning Disabilities with Wise Lifestyle Choices

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There is no established "safe amount" of drinking during pregnancy and no single type of alcohol is safer than another, so it is best not to drink any type. Maternal alcohol use can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), a birth defect that causes varying degrees of mental disabilities, behavior problems, and physical deformities.

Prevent Learning Disabilities by Stopping Smoking and Avoiding Second-Hand Smoke - When You Smoke, Your Baby Smokes Too

As with alcohol abuse, there is no established "safe amount" of smoking. Smoking can threaten your and your baby's life. Smoking can cause bleeding that can lead to death of the baby and you. Smoking mothers are more likely to have miscarriages and give birth to under-weight babies and infants with birth defects. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) happens more frequently in babies of smoking mothers. Smoking has also been linked to learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral problems later in life.

Infants and children who live in homes where others smoke have more health problems than those who don't. They have more instances of pneumonia, ear, nose, and throat problems, sinus issues, bronchitis, asthma, and lung diseases. Studies have also linked second-hand smoke to cancer in non-smokers.

Children who have frequent illnesses and infections affecting their ears and sinuses are more likely to experience delays in language development, impaired early reading skills, and other learning disorders. This can lead to learning disabilities in reading and writing.

Preventing Learning Disabilities - Know the Dangers of Substance Abuse

Any abuse of drugs can lead to physical deformities, mental disabilities, and learning and behavior problems in infants and childhood. The effects of maternal and paternal drug abuse on children are nearly always disabling to some degree and are sometimes fatal. If you or someone you know is pregnant and abusing drugs, the earlier you seek medical assistance with stopping the abuse and caring for the unborn child, the better.

If you are thinking about becoming pregnant and you abuse drugs, get help now. See a doctor, be forthright about your substance abuse, and follow your doctor's treatment plan before becoming pregnant. Although much of the research and information on substance abuse targets mothers, there is some evidence to suggest that a father's drug abuse may also be linked to birth defects.

See Your Doctor About Recommended Vitamins and Nutritional Needs

A healthy diet and the right vitamins are important in the prevention of disabilities and increasing the chances of having a healthy baby. For example, folic acid, a type of B vitamin, has been shown to help prevent Neural Tube Defects, also called spina bifida. Neural Tube Defects are deformities of the spinal cord that can cause mental and physical disabilities. Scientists estimate that as many as 70% of spina bifida cases are preventable by taking folic acid vitamins.

Screening of Newborns Helps Identify Disabilities for Early Intervention

It is important to have your baby screened for disabilities before discharge from the hospital at birth. Hearing problems are the most common sensory defect. It is estimated that three out of one thousand children are born with hearing difficulties and deafness. Early identification of problems can enable quicker intervention. Early speech and language therapy and intervention for hearing impairments and deafness can dramatically increase the chances of successful learning in regular school environments later in life.

Early Eye Examinations are Important

Full eye examinations, not just vision screenings, are important for preschool aged children. An eye examination involves diagnosis of physical eye problems, not just a child's visual perception. Physical vision problems such as amblyopia can be treated and sometimes reversed through early treatment. Blindness associated with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be prevented with appropriate medication at birth.

Ophthalmologists typically recommend examining children at least at six months and age five. Early intervention for vision problems can help prevent learning problems in school. Naturally, undetected vision problems can affect a child's ability to form important visual concepts, to read, to write, and develop early number concepts.

For children with visual impairments or blindness, it is critical they receive the appropriate early intervention services from a qualified early intervention specialist or special education teacher. Visual impairments and blindness affect all aspects of learning and living. They will require specialized instruction for academics, language, and safe movement and interaction in their environments to increase their future success in school and in life.

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