Can You Prevent Autism?

Doctors don’t know what causes autism, but they believe genes play the biggest part in whether a child is born with it.

In rare cases, doctors also say, a baby can be born with birth defects if the mother was exposed to certain chemicals while she was pregnant. But doctors can’t find out, during your pregnancy, if your baby will have autism.

While you can’t prevent having a child with an autistic disorder, you can lower some of your risk if you try the following lifestyle changes:

Live healthy. Have regular check-ups, eat well-balanced meals, and exercise. Make sure you have good prenatal care, and take all recommended vitamins and supplements.

Don’t take drugs during pregnancy. Ask your doctor before you take any medication. This is especially true for some anti-seizure drugs.

Avoid alcohol. Say “no” to that glass of wine -- and any kind of alcoholic beverage -- while you’re pregnant.

Seek treatment for existing health conditions. If you've been diagnosed with celiac disease or PKU, follow your doctor’s advice for keeping them under control.

Get vaccinated. Make sure you get the German measles (rubella) vaccine before you get pregnant. It can prevent rubella-associated autism.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on November 09, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Parker, S., Zuckerman, B., and Augustyn, M. (editors). Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics: A Handbook for Primary Care, Lippincott, 2005.

Autism Research Institute: “Minimizing Risks.”

Mayo Clinic: “Autism Spectrum Disorder Prevention.”

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