Can You Prevent Autism?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 12, 2023
1 min read

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 they were 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 increase your odds of having a healthy baby by doing these 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.