How To Prevent Autism: Can Autism Be Prevented?

Autism cannot be entirely prevented, but there are habits to form that can help reduce the chances of your child being born with autism.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
September 20, 2023
min read

Can Autism Be Prevented?

Autism cannot be entirely prevented or cured, but there are ways that a woman can reduce the chances of their child being diagnosed.

Although no cure exists at the moment, researchers have found that specific actions can greatly reduce the likelihood of it showing up after a woman gives birth.

Autism spectrum disorder is a disability that develops in the brain. It causes delays in development, particularly regarding social functionality.

About 1 out of every 44 kids in the U.S. has autism. Women that are planning on getting pregnant, or are in their prenatal period already, can look into plans to not only reduce ASD showing up but deliver an overall healthy baby.

Some of the actions taken that could increase the chances of an autism diagnosis in a child might also raise the risk for other neurological disorders, or even chromosomal, like Down syndrome.

As such, medical experts have learned that issues with brain growth can be seen very early during pregnancy, even during a woman's second trimester. Beginning when the baby's conceived, what a woman eats, takes, and even the way they feel can have an impact on their child.

How To Prevent Autism

Although psychologists aren't entirely sure what causes autism, they do know what actions can raise the possibility of diagnosis later in a child's life.

Genes play a big part in it. In some exceptional instances, a child can be born with birth imperfections if the mother came into contact with specific chemicals during the time that they were pregnant.

Some chemicals that are known to cause birth defects, or even autism, are paint thinners, spray paint, and other heavy-duty products that are sold in aerosol cans.

Here are some additional ways the risk of autism showing up in a child can be reduced:

1. No smoking, no drinking, no drugs

Drugs such as tobacco and alcohol are known strains on an adult body. They can lead to heart problems, hypertension or high blood pressure, liver problems, and lung damage.

For a child still in their fetal stage, these substances act as a poison and can result in birth defects of many kinds, heart problems for the child, and autism.

Other hard drugs can have the same effect or even end in a stillbirth.

This applies to medication also, so women are advised to speak to their doctor and inform them about any drugs they take, or want to take, while they're pregnant. Gynecologists can give good advice on what women should take in those nine months.

2. Eat well

Women should eat a healthy, balanced diet that doesn't have too many unhealthy foods, fats, and sugars.

Although there's no specific food known to cause autism, pregnant women can lower the likelihood of it appearing by maintaining a diet that's vitamin-rich and contains a good amount of vegetables and fiber.

Still, speaking with a doctor about any vitamins is necessary since too much could hurt a woman's baby.

3. Vaccinations

Some vaccines, such as MMR, have been studied for their association with autism. Women should ask their physician whether any vaccinations should be taken before they conceive or immediately after finding out about an upcoming pregnancy.

4. Getting existing conditions treated

Women with diseases should speak with their doctors to ensure that any medication they take won't have any bad effects on their children. Additionally, medications that are relied upon must be noted and possibly halted if it's likely to harm the child's neurodevelopment.

5. Stay away from airborne chemicals

Unfortunately, pollution is a big problem for people in general, but especially pregnant women. Airborne particles are sometimes difficult to detect since some chemicals considered poisonous have no smell or taste.

In some regions, pregnant women might be exposed to more chemicals outside, such as those living near a busy intersection, highway, or industrial area where chemicals are manufactured.

Car exhaust has many of the same poisonous chemicals that are found in tobacco smoke. Breathing in enough of it may lead to poor or deficient neurodevelopment in a fetus.

6. Staying away from others who smoke

Secondhand smoke is proven to be just as harmful to the health of those around it. The smoke that smokers exhale can have high levels of carbon monoxide and other toxic substances.

Women that are pregnant should tell others who smoke to do it in a place that's away from where they are. Furthermore, other smokers should never be in the same room as someone pregnant, or even with small children, for that matter.

7. Use caution when cleaning

Many cleaning products shouldn't be used when pregnant women are around.

Mild dishwashing liquid and distilled vinegar are safe. However, most bleaches, tile cleaners, heavy-duty degreasers, and oven cleaners have a whole host of chemicals that are dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn children.

This also includes air freshers in aerosol cans. Couples should exercise caution and avoid cleaning with any chemical that releases gas and strong odor.

Women that are pregnant and concerned about being exposed to dangerous substances should do the following when in close contact:

  • Walk away from the source of the chemical, if possible
  • Wear a facial covering, such as an N-95 mask
  • Stay indoors when alerts are issued or when there are noticeably high levels of smog
  • Avoid walking around areas where there are large amounts of vehicular traffic, such as intersections, highways, and truck stops
  • Drink clean water, possibly bottled water if the local waterworks has a poor reputation
  • Avoid drinking water with heavy metals
  • Inform others in their presence to avoid engaging in any activities that could produce toxins in the air, such as smoking and cleaning with heavy-duty chemicals

8. Maintain a relaxed environment

Studies indicate the environmental factors that cause stress in pregnant women could increase the chances of autism. Women that are pregnant should avoid fighting and putting themselves in positions that are likely to cause stress and anxiety.

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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