What are disabilities?
Disabilities are conditions in which a person is unable to perform some activities considered “normal” for human beings. This condition is caused by some physical, motor, visual, auditory, or mental limitations.
Why prevent disabilities?
Disabilities change the lives of those who are carriers and also those around them. When a person has a disability, he or she needs adaptations or help to be able to accomplish what is normally done by people without disabilities. And for this to happen, it demands time and financial cost from families and public health.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that one billion people live with disabilities, one in seven people in the world, yet the WHO brings that 70% of disabilities could have been avoided. This information shows the importance of prevention and that it is necessary to transmit this knowledge to everyone.
What are the main causes of disabilities?
- Disabilities: Hereditary or congenital: appear due to genetic factors in the fetus;
- Disabilities: Lack of assistance or inadequate assistance to women during pregnancy and childbirth;
- Disabilities: Malnutrition: both from the mother during pregnancy and after the child;
- Disabilities: Communicable diseases: rubella, meningitis, measles, toxoplasmosis, Zika virus, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs);
- Disabilities: Chronic diseases and events: high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, cerebrovascular accident (CVA);
- Disabilities: Psychiatric disorders;
- Disabilities: Trauma and injuries.
Since these diseases above, when occurring during pregnancy, normally affect and cause changes in the fetus.
After I’ve introduced you to a little bit about disability, I’m going to give you some important guidance on how we can prevent disabilities.
Main care BEFORE getting pregnant: Preconception
It is essential to start prevention before becoming pregnant, when the couple decides to have a child, they need to seek guidance and follow some precautions, as it is in the first weeks that deficiencies usually occur.
The couple should look for the doctor, who will guide them and should order some tests, which the couple should perform: Blood count, Diabetes, Syphilis, Blood Type, and the presence of the RH fact, Toxoplasmosis, Hepatitis, Rubella, and Tetanus. I remember that it is important that the man also take the exams (having some specific for him).
The woman must be vaccinated against rubella, as this disease affects the baby in formation, causing malformations such as blindness, hearing loss, among other changes.
Folic acid is important for women and men
At least three months before becoming pregnant, it is important and fundamental that women and men take folic acid, which is a vitamin present in some vegetables, being necessary for the formation of the fetal neural tube, and the lack of this vitamin can bring changes such as myelomeningocele and cleft lip and palate. And when a man takes folic acid, it protects against the production of sperm with abnormalities in their chromosomes.
The couple can seek a genetic counseling service, to map out what their risks are, which is very important in cases where there is a deficiency in the family or in a marriage between relatives.
Main care DURING pregnancy: Prenatal
When the long-awaited moment arrives, when a woman discovers she is pregnant and her heart is filled with joy, it is important to remember that she is now carrying life and that some choices can directly affect her baby. Nowadays, one hears a lot “I’m pregnant and not sick”, it is correct that you are not sick, but during this period some care is needed that when you are not pregnant you do not need to have.
See an obstetrician monthly; do control exams; only take the medicine that the doctor prescribes for you; control high blood pressure, diabetes, and infections; have a healthy and balanced diet; do not expose yourself to X-rays or other types of radiation; avoid contact with people contaminated by infectious diseases; participate in a course for pregnant women.
I still want to emphasize the importance of pregnant women to avoid the consumption of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, and other drugs, as these cause many deficiencies and changes in the baby’s organs. And I still want to leave a message for the mothers-to-be who were taken by surprise and don’t feel ready to be a mother, don’t want to have this baby, and are thinking about an abortion: Abortion attempts can make the baby disabled and can lead to the mother’s death.
Main care at the time of delivery: Peri-Natal
It’s time to go to the maternity ward , your child is coming, what care should we take?
Have your child in a prepared environment, hospitals are usually better prepared with equipment and a complete team to receive your baby, so if there is any problem, help is at hand. There must be an obstetrician and a pediatrician in the delivery room. Ideally, the woman has a natural birth and breastfeeds her baby as soon as possible. And demand that preventive tests be carried out, such as APGAR, which provides a diagnosis of the newborn’s life condition.
It is important that the mother has a companion, someone who knows what she wants and what her decisions are, and who stays with her, encouraging and helping in whatever way possible.
Main care AFTER birth: Postnatal
Finally, I want to talk about care from the moment you are holding your child in your arms.
Right after birth, the newborn needs to take some tests that detect if your baby has any disability or difficulty, (mandatory, it is performed at the Basic Health Unit), Little Ear Test (mandatory), Tongue Test (mandatory), Little Eye Test, Hip Test and Blood Type (mandatory). There is still the Little Heart Test that is not offered by the public network and among the tests above, the mandatory ones do maternity, the others often have to be requested by the parents.
Breastfeed your child and provide him with good nutrition, do not give medication without medical advice, have your child’s vaccinations up to date, take him monthly to the pediatrician during his first year of life.
Take proper care of your child, providing emotional support and an environment conducive to their development. Avoid home accidents, keep children away from fire, alcohol, sharp objects, electrical outlets, or anything that poses a danger to the child.
Don’t forget the fundamentals: LOVE your child, lack of affection affects his development. Children are gifts from God placed in your life, and you must teach and show them the way they should go, letting them take their steps so they can grow.
And if your child is unable to follow the neuropsychomotor development, has delays and difficulties, seek help and guidance in a Specialized Care Center, ask for an assessment with a multidisciplinary team, they can show you how to help your child, thus preventing a possible disability.