Preventing autism in your baby during pregnancy

The cause of autism has not been clearly explained, genes are believed to make the greatest contribution to whether a child is born autistic or not.

It is, though rare, also believed that if the mother was exposed to specific chemicals while pregnant, the baby is likely to be born with birth defects.

Some scientists, on the other hand, say autism can be the consequence of both genetic and environmental factors.

Unfortunately, doctors are as yet still unable to ascertain during pregnancy whether a baby will have autism.

Even though autism cannot totally be prevented, there still exists ways for the mother to try and lower the risk.

Eat healthy

You should have your health checked regularly to rule out your and your baby’s health risks.

Make sure you eat healthy, well-balanced meals. You can ask your obstetrician for advice on how to optimise your nutritional intake and supplement your health with prenatal vitamins.

Avoid using drugs during pregnancy, or at the very least seek your doctor’s advice before taking any. Avoid alcoholic beverages at all costs.

If you are diagnosed with a health condition such as celiac disease or PKU, strictly follow your doctor’s advice to keep your condition under control.

Avoid exposure to air pollution

There is a link between exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and autism risks.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health discovered that children whose mothers were exposed to high levels of pollution faced double the risk, especially in the third trimester.

The more air pollution an expecting mother is exposed to, the more significant the risk of her baby being born with autism.

There are many ways you can shield yourself from inhaling polluted air.

When exercising, you should avoid peak hours of the day, and keep away from congested areas. If you notice pollution levels increasing, exercise indoors.

Stay away from toxic chemicals

Exposure to specific chemicals during pregnancy can increase the risk of autism spectrum disorders in your baby.

A study recently discovered a connection between autism and environmental exposures, particularly some metals, pesticides, insecticides, and traffic-related pollutants.

Finding out the exact chemicals which you should avoid may be bewildering, so you are advised to consult your doctor on what is good for you and your baby, and what is not.

You should also cut consumption of canned foods, avoid personal products consisting of “fragrance”, and limit the use of water bottles made from aluminium or plastic.

This article first appeared in and was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.