By: Philip G. Wenger
The cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder is shrouded in a cloud of unknowns. Without clear causes to blame for the development of autism, it is difficult to prevent risk with any real certainty. Still, steps can be taken to reduce and eliminate known risks ranging from nutrition to stress reduction. Future mothers should be concerned with maintaining a healthy nutrition habit, lifestyle, and environment. Pregnant women should be careful to maintain autism awareness and the associating risk prevention both before and during pregnancy in order to keep their child’s mind healthier.
It is key that pregnant women eat well, visit the doctor for regular check-ups, and exercise daily. Nutrition is one of the best ways to boost the heath of a baby. These women should seek to receive necessary vitamins, as well as eating fresh produce that is washed to remove pesticides. Folic acid is an important nutrient for ensuring a healthy mind for a baby because it is known to reduce the risk of ASD. A lack of folic acid can be created from a recent birth of an older sibling. Another perhaps obvious strategy for reducing autism risk is avoiding medication, alcohol, and smoking. Anti-depressants especially are linked with increasing a child’s risk for autism. Natural cures and remedies should also be avoided, as alternative ‘natural’ medications may also increase unknown risk. There may be exceptions to these rules, and pregnant women should talk to their doctor about different medications. Sometimes the benefits of the drug outweigh the risk.
All along the lines of eating well, visiting the doctor, and maintaining exercise routines is keeping a healthy lifestyle. Having a healthy lifestyle means reducing stress, as this has been known to increase autism risk. Many soon-to-be mothers get vary stressed over the health of their child, and even about the risk of autism. Being stressed over autism is one of the worst responses, as this stress can actually lead to the disorder’s development. Mothers should not become overwhelmed with trying to reduce risk. Existing health conditions such as celiac disease should be treated before and during pregnancy as well. Children born within a year of an older sibling are at greater risk of ASD, and this may be partially due to the depletion of Folic Acid in the mother, so taking time between pregnancies can help in this area.
The pregnant mother’s life environment can play a big role in determining the mental health of her child, so it is important that parents seek to reduce environmental risks. A large factor of environmental risk is air pollution exposure, as the chemicals of the pollutants can have an adverse effect on the child’s development. To reduce risk associating with air pollution, air quality levels can be tracked online every day. Vehicle gas tanks should be filled after dark, and exercise should take place away from heavy traffic. If possible, it would be best for workouts to take place indoors. Another source of environmental autism causes is toxic chemicals. Certain common products, such as plastics, cosmetics, and metals may be hazardous. Packaged food intake should be kept at a minimum, and pesticides and air pollutants such as particulate matter should be avoided. Pregnant mothers should talk to their mothers about such chemicals.
Despite our apparent blindfolded take on what causes ASD, much can be done to reduce the risk of autism and to provide a child with a healthy start. Seeking healthy nutrition habits, lifestyle, and living environment should be the main defense against autism. We can overcome our ignorance of ASD simply by following these known methods of prevention.
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“What Causes Autism?” Autism Speaks, www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/learn-more-autism/what-causes-autism. Accessed 7 Apr. 2017.
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