12 Worries Not to Stress Over

Protection and Prevention Fears

"I'm scared my ex-husband will kidnap our child."

More than 200,000 kids in the U. S. are abducted by a family member each year. You can reduce the risk by putting her safety above your hard feelings. "Most family abductions are done out of spite," says Nancy A. McBride, national safety director for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "It can be a huge challenge for a parent to stay calm in the middle of a bitter custody battle, but simply being fair about visitation rights and child support can head off a lot of problems."

A little preparation can also help you feel more in control of the situation. As soon as your child is old enough (usually around age 4), teach her your phone number and address. Notify her school or child-care center if you're dealing with a contentious divorce, and specify who is allowed to pick her up. Register any custody orders with the court of jurisdiction, and see if your local police station has child-identification kits. If one is not available, create your own: Place a recent photo, a fingerprint ink strip, and a physical description of your child in an envelope, and update it regularly.

"I'm worried my baby son will develop autism."

It's true that the incidence of autism spectrum disorders has risen to about 1 in 70 boys (who are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls are). But it's mainly the result of heightened awareness of the syndrome among doctors and broadened diagnostic criteria, according to Ari Brown, M.D., a Parents advisor and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Parents Advisory Board. Chances are your child will be fine. Still, experts agree the risk is somewhat greater if you or your spouse has a family history of autism or if your baby was a preemie. If your child doesn't babble, coo, point, or wave by 12 months, says no words by 16 months or no two-word phrases by 24 months, or seems to lose previously acquired language skills, see your pediatrician right away. "Early intervention, before age 3, can make a huge difference for a child with autism," says Dr. Brown. "Still, it's critical to seek help as soon as a child is diagnosed, regardless of his age." One thing you don't have to worry about is having your child get shots. Multiple studies have shown no link between vaccines and autism.

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