Why are we still unable to prevent Developmental Disabilities?

New Horizons Un-Limited’s mission in writing this article is to support the collection of data related to birth, in the hope of developing research to determine preventable causes of Developmental Disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Cerebral Palsy (CP).

When a child is diagnosed with a Developmental Disability, the first thing we ask is, “What is the cause?” What happened for this to occur? Is it genetic? Was there an infection? Were there risk factors involved? Were there complications at birth? Could the parent or doctor have done anything to prevent the condition of the newborn?

How will we answer these questions, if we have not taken and do not begin to take, specific data at birth? How will we answer these questions, if we do not try to research the long term effects of medications, obstetric procedures, fertility interventions, etc. from birth on the developing fetal brain?

Each time a child is born with a disability, we ask ourselves, “With all our amazing medical advances, why are we still unable to prevent lifelong, incurable, devastating, Developmental Disabilities?

We cannot begin to prevent Developmental Disabilities, because, as reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a lack of data and research regarding conditions responsible for the increasing prevalence in the past decade of disability and what is needed to identify these causes. (1)

While the prevention of Developmental Disabilities appears to have been ignored, there has been an overwhelming legislative, financial and medical effort to prevent birth defects.

NHU invites you to visit our  Spring 2015 Report on the Prevention of Disabilities  at www.new-horizons.org/pdf/pr0315.pdf which focuses on the prevention of Developmental Disabilities, with special emphasis on the prevention of the causes of birth anomaly or injury. It is also a call for an open and honest dialog between medical professionals, government sponsored support and research and the individuals affected by Developmental Disability and their families.

Our Report is a Call to Action for leadership in protecting newborns, their parents and society from avoidable, devastating, lifelong, Developmental Disabilities, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Cerebral Palsy (CP), to establish a more comprehensive data collection before birth, through the birth process, and directly after birth. This is a call to review, improve and broaden the scope of data collected through the U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth. This update of data systems is necessary to more effectively meet current research needs for the purpose of preventing Developmental Disabilities.


(1) Why Are Autism Spectrum Disorders Increasing? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) <http://www.cdc.gov/Features/AutismPrevalence/>  (10/21/2014) (CDC link no longer available).

2 thoughts on “Why are we still unable to prevent Developmental Disabilities?

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  1. I’m not sure it’s possible to prevent genetic conditions like Autism, it’s part of peoples DNA cell structure, and has probably been around for thousands of years along with skin colour and racial traits. Perhaps society just needs to except that some people have genetic conditions and change their attitude rather than trying to eradicate the genes we don’t like.

    1. Thanks for your comment Ed. We agree we need to accept people with genetic conditions and bring awareness of our attitudes toward them so we appreciate your post.
      In our article we are bringing awareness to the fact that many causes of Developmental Disabilities are yet unknown and that fact is acknowledged by the CDC and research. Our intent is not to answer, but promote the question. Where is the research? When we think we know the answers, but do not have the research to back it up, we block research efforts. In the 1950’s and 1960’s our country spent millions of dollars to find the virus that causes cancer. Unfortunately very few cancers are caused by virus. Research efforts were blocked to find all the other causes of cancer for decades. We are bringing awareness to the unknown and promoting valid, scientific research. We hope you visit our report at http://www.new-horizons.org/pdf/pr0315.pdf

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