There is very little evidence that suggests that autism can be cured, leave alone prevention. Autism being a psychological disorder, the chances of it developing in a child, at least at this point in time cannot be predicted. However, there are some proven and unproven directions during pregnancy that can possibly help save a child from developing autism spectrum disorders. These include
Prevent Autism during Pregnancy
- Use of Folic Acid during pregnancy
According to a research study lead author Dr. Pal Suren, from the division of epidemiology at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo highlights that taking ample or prescribed amounts of folic acid during pregnancy can reduce the risk of autism in the new born. Folic acid is one of the vitamins which are highly essential during pregnancy as it help in preventing birth defects and aids in the brain development of the foetus. The research team suspects that taking folic early during pregnancy acts as a barrier against any genetic risk and initiates a protective process against autism spectrum disorders. Still, the results are preliminary and hence, no final conclusion can be arrived at from the present data. Hence, taking folic acid as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed, might help in reducing the risk of autism spectrum disorders. (Association Between Maternal Use of Folic Acid Supplements and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children, Issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Feb. 13).
- Say no alcohol, smoking and drugs
Alcohol, smoking and drugs while trying to get pregnant and during pregnancy can have devastating effects on the child. The risk of developing mental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders, mental retardation are very high, thanks to alcohol consumption, smoking and taking drugs. Avoid them completely during while getting pregnant, during pregnancy and after your delivery as well. The ill-effects of them can pass on from you to your baby during breast feed.
- Breastfeeding babies
Breastfeeding is another possible way of preventing autism from developing in babies. Here there is a lot of emphasis on detoxifying of mother’s body to give the best milk. It is said that by detoxifying the body 6 months before delivery and maintaining the same, even after the delivery and 1 year later, would be very beneficial in preventing autism from developing. According to one research, babies who were not breastfed or fed with baby formula without docosahexaenoic acid/arachidonic acid supplementation had higher risks of developing autistic spectrum disorders. Another research points, lack of essential fatty acids such as Omega -3 and Omega -6 fatty acids in the babies’ milk can cause autistic spectrum disorders. This connection has been established because of the fatty acids’ role in early brain development in unborn and newly born babies.
- Limited gluten and casein consumption
Most parents with autistic children at home, keep them away from gluten and casein. But, keeping away from gluten and casein from the early stages of pregnancy itself is believed to be very beneficial. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and oat products. The connection between autism and gluten and casein is that gluten and casein foods increase the amount of peptides in blood and urine which disrupt the flow of biochemical signalling in brain. A study on autistic children with gluten free and casein free diet for a period of 5 months noted an improvement in various parameters.
- Saying no to vaccines with mercury
There are certain arguments that some vaccines given to pregnant women and babies to protect them against viral attacks, contain small amounts of mercury. Mercury is known to be harmful for adults, but it is very dangerous for foetus and babies. Some vaccinations are known to contain mercury and recent studies have shown that pregnant women exposed to these vaccinations had babies with autism spectrum disorders.
Here are some of the unproven but, very popular techniques that many people believe can prevent the development of autism in children. Further research is needed to prove or disprove these points.
- Having organic food
Organic food has been emphasized because of the least amount of pesticide content in them. Along with this, organic food is genetically modified. Along with pesticides, genetically modified food is allegedly bad for the developing foetus.
- Limit cow milk
Cow milk is also not suggested for babies and toddlers. It is also true for growing foetuses as well. It is due to the fact that cow’s milk is not easily digestible by babies. If it is true for babies, then it is also true for foetuses as well. Apart from being responsible for many diseases such as type 1 diabetes, constipation, otitus media, sinus congestion, rhinitis, skin problems, asthma, and many bacterial infections, etc have been noted due to dairy products.
- Over-usage of antibiotics
Antibiotics are another risky factor associated with reported developing autism in kids. As antibiotics destroy all the bacteria in the intestine including friendly and enemy bacteria, the food that we eat is not properly digested. Use of antibiotics must be followed by taking probiotics regularly, at least in children. Unfortunately, there is an over-usage of antibiotics in every possible way, whether it is for cold, cough, etc. This over-usage of antibiotics can have a devastating effect.
Some of the ways to prevent autism can be taken up, but we must agree that these techniques to prevent the development of autism spectrum disorders are only effective to some extent and there are certain other factors which are out of our hands, in the first place. One of the major factors is genetics. Genetics cannot be predicted, at least in the present times and hence, any child could develop autism spectrum disorders.
To have a positive attitude and courage are more important than all the odds in favour and against put together.